We’ve seen variations on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ tales of Tarzan many times over the years, from the classic Johnny Weissmuller serials of the ‘40s, to 1984’s Graystoke: The Legend of Tarzan starring Christopher Lambert, to Disney’s 1999 animated version. The trailer above for a new version of this story follows the normal pattern: a young boy, raised in the jungle by apes. A beautiful girl named Jane. The incursion of civilization into Tarzan’s untouched wilderness home. And, of course, aliens.
Yes, this new Tarzan trailer takes a sharp left turn into whatthehellsville about halfway through when suddenly there are crashing asteroids and greedy corporations looking to exploit alien technology and Tarzan barefoot surfing down a snowy mountain. I have to give the folks behind this new flick some credit. It’s been a long damn time since a trailer truly surprised me, but this one left me gobsmacked. They found my gob, and then they unleashed a coordinated campaign to smack it as hard as possible. Somebody string up the “Mission Accomplished” banner and let’s all go get a drink.
It’s worth saying that the alien elements don’t necessarily look bad, just out-of-nowhere crazy. Then again, since this is a story we’ve seen a thousand times before, why not add some new elements to freshen it up? I’m not sure it ever would have occurred to me that we needed a Tarzan/sci-fi mash-up, but if they’ve come up with a good story and can pull it off, more power to them.
The screenwriters’ past credits include The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, so I’m neither immediately won over nor overly skeptical. It certainly has my attention more than yet another rote retelling of Tarzan’s origin story would. And it’s not like Burroughs was a stranger to science fiction or science fantasy — this’ll be Tarzan with just a dose of John Carter of Mars or Carson Napier of Venus (that guy never gets the credit he deserves).
If nothing else, Tarzan looks like it’ll be visually stunning in 3D, so I may be
dragging the kids letting the kids drag me to this one.
Tarzan premiered in Germany last month, and is set to open elsewhere in May 2014.