Kam on Film: ‘The Legend Of Tarzan,’ ‘Vigilante Diaries,’ What’s New In Theaters and More

—by , July 6, 2016

The Legend Of Tarzan

Warner Brothers Pictures

Rated PG-13 for action, violence, sensuality and brief crude dialogue

Alexander Skarsgard Stars As Legendary King Of The Jungle

Tarzan became a sensation soon after his initial introduction to the world via pulp magazines published in 1912. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the character proved to be such an enduring cultural icon that he would become the subject of a series of best-selling novels, 200+ movies and a long line of consumer products.

According to the lore spun by Burroughs, Tarzan, aka John Clayton, was the son of a couple of British aristocrats who perished in Africa while the boy was still an infant. The baby was subsequently raised by apes in the wild where he became so in tune with nature that he learned to speak the language of all the beasts residing there.

Moreover, as the legendary “Lord of the Jungle,” he not only exercised dominion over the animal kingdom but over cannibalistic tribes eager to rape white women and to boil missionaries in a big pot. Such insensitive portrayals of Africans as evil and uncivilized eventually became controversial in more enlightened times. And after decades of uncritical appeal, Tarzan finally witnessed a sharp decline in popularity.

Now, for the first time this millennium, he’s been brought back to the big screen. Directed by David Yates (Harry Potter 5, 6, 7 and 8), The Legend Of Tarzan features a more politically-correct version of the controversial character.

Set in 1884, the film stars Alexander Skarsgard in the title role as well as Samuel L. Jackson as his sophisticated sidekick, Dr. George Washington Williams. The American doctor was ostensibly shoehorned into the story to offset the relatively-primitive image of the indigenous black folks.

At the point of departure, we find Tarzan and wife Jane (Margot Robbie) living in the lap of luxury in London as Lord and Lady Greystoke. It’s apparently been ages since Tarzan has even set foot on the dark continent.

He leaps at the chance to return to the Congo, when invited by Parliament to serve as a trade emissary. What Tarzan doesn’t know is that he is merely a pawn in a plot masterminded by Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), a diabolical villain dealing in blood diamonds.     Upon arriving, it doesn’t take long for Tarzan to revert from a proper gent to a feral vine swinger who can summon a thundering herd of elephants with that distinctive yell. Aaaaaaaargh… Aaaaaaaaarghaaaah… Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Running time: 109 minutes

 

 

Vigilante Diaries

Anchor Bay Entertainment

Rated R for sexuality, nudity, graphic violence and pervasive profanity

Ex-Black Op Agents Go Rogue In High Body-Count Revenge Thriller  

Vigilante Diaries is a movie that’s hard to pigeonhole only because it doesn’t have a coherent plotline. What I can say with confidence is that this balls-out action flick features a high attrition-rate as well a measure of eroticized violence for folks who like to be titillated while satiating their bloodlust.

At the picture’s point of departure in 2005, we find members of a Special-Ops team already embroiled in a deadly shootout overseas with Armenian mobsters. They accomplish the dangerous mission, namely, freeing a mysterious figure known as The Vigilante (Paul Sloan), leaving bodies strewn all over the place in the process.

Fast-forward to the present and we find Mike Hanover (Jason Mewes) now searching for the psychos who killed his brother, namely, The Vigilante and his sidekick, The Kid (Kevin L. Walker). What ensues might best be described as a gruesome snuff flick with a good sense of humor.

There’s an abundance of excellent acting by guys who know how to die on screen. One gunshot victim is more concerned about his ruined suit than his wounds, yelling, “Yo, mother-[expletive], this is Gucci!” at his attacker.

Without any logic or explanation, the revenge theme eventually morphs into a terrorist scenario. Suddenly, we have a character called Barrington (Michael Jai White) talking about somebody being offered a billion dollars to set off nuclear IED’s all over L.A.

Despite the fact that this high-octane thriller never made any sense, I must confess that it held me in its thrall from start to finish purely on the strength of the over-stimulation of its incessant visual capture.

 

Good (2 stars)

In English and Armenian with subtitles

Running time: 108 minutes

 

 

Kam’s Kapsules

For movies opening July 8, 2016

 

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (R for crude sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use and pervasive profanity) Romantic comedy revolving around slacker siblings (Zac Efron and Adam Devine) who find a couple of party animals (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) to take to their sister’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding in Hawaii after advertising for dates. With Wendy Williams, Stephen Root and Chloe Bridges.

 

The Secret Life of Pets (PG for action and some rude humor) Animated comedy about a pampered terrier (Louis C.K.) whose life is turned upside-down when his owner (Ellie Kemper) brings home a big, sloppy mongrel (Eric Songstreet) found at the dog pound. Voice cast includes Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell and Bobby Moynihan.

 

At the Fork (Unrated) Agri-business documentary examining the mechanization of the processes involved in the raising and harvesting of farm animals for human consumption.

 

Captain Fantastic (R for profanity and brief graphic nudity) Viggo Mortensen stars in the title role of this survivalist saga as a widower raising a half-dozen kids off the grid in the forest of the Pacific Northwest until they are forced by circumstances to rejoin mainstream civilization. With George MacKay, Samantha Isler and Annalise Basso.

 

Fathers and Daughters (R for sexuality) Character-driven drama about a Pulitzer Prize-winning widower’s (Russell Crowe) struggle with parenting issues following a mental breakdown. Ensemble cast includes Amanda Seyfried, Quvenzhane Wallis, Jane Fonda, Octavia Spencer, Diane Kruger and Bruce Greenwood.

 

Indian Pont (Unrated) Investigative exposé exploring whether New York’s aging nuclear power plant at Indian Point is still safe.

 

Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (Unrated) Reverential retrospective revisiting the career of one of the most successful television producers of all time, including such groundbreaking shows as All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Featuring commentary by George Clooney, Bill Moyers, John Amos and Jay Leno.

 

Our Little Sister (PG for mature themes and brief mild epithets) Dysfunctional family dramedy about three sisters (Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa and Kaho) living in their late grandmother’s home who invite a half-sibling (Suzu Hirose) they meet at their father’s funeral to move in with them. Cast includes Ryo Kase, Ryohei Suzuki and Takafumi Ikeda. (In Japanese with subtitles)

 

Under the Sun (Unrated) Bamboo curtain documentary chronicling a year in the life of an ordinary North Korean family from Pyongyang. (In Korean with subtitles)

 

Zero Days (PG-13 for profanity) Malware documentary detailing the blowback visited on the internet after the deployment of the Stuxnet virus against Iran by the U.S. and Israel in order to cripple the country’s nuclear enrichment program.


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