(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)
Yeah, so for this movie Disney pioneered a new technique called “Deep Canvas” to allow two dimensional animated characters to interact with 3D environments. And sweet Jiminy Cricket but it is gorgeous. In fact, everything about this first sequence is pretty much flawless film-making. We cut back and forth between Tarzan’s family as they begin a new life in the jungle, and the family of Kerchak (Lance Henrikson) and Kala (Glenn Close), two gorillas who are raising their own child. In a few quick scenes, these six characters are efficiently and effectively drawn. Little moments are used to show us their relationship, like the smile they give each other as they build their house in the treetops, or the way Kala gleefully tosses her baby into the air, only to cut to Tarzan being caught in the exact same way by his mother. Oh…and then Kala’s baby gets eaten by a leopard.
It’s horribly sudden, shocking and utterly traumatising. My God. Walt Disney would be so proud.
As the song continues a heartbroken Kala is following the rest of the gorilla troupe when she hears a baby crying and runs off to find it. The sound leads her to the house Tarzan’s parents have built. She cautiously explores and finds the place wrecked with blood and pawprints everywhere. She finds baby Tarzan, and realises that his parents were killed by Sabor the leopard, just like her baby.
Unfortunately, Sabor just decided to kick back after murdering Tarzan’s parents and she’s still in the treehouse. We get an absolutely phenomenal sequence of Sabor chasing Kala through the treehouse while trying to protect the baby. It alternates between terrifying peril and fantastic physical comedy and finally ends with Kala leaving Sabor trapped in the treehouse and snarling defiance at her as Phil Collins kicks in again. It’s just awesome, and what’s even more remarkable is that we’re almost eight minutes into this movie and not a single line of dialogue has been uttered.
Kala brings Tarzan back to the troupe and tells the other gorillas that she’s going to raise this hairless mutant herself. Kerchak isn’t happy about this, telling her to leave Tarzan back where she found him. Kerchak, to me, is like the Anti-Mufasa. He has all the power and gravitas, but none of the warmth and tenderness. I think Kerchak is what Mufasa might have been like if Simba had died in the stampede instead of him. He’s been hurt in the worst way anyone can be, he lost his child. All that love has to go somewhere. Kala has dealt with it by transferring her love to another child, but Kerchak can’t do that and instead has just burnt it all to the ground. His inability to love Tarzan as a son will prove to have grave consequences for both him and Tarzan, whereas Kala’s love for Tarzan will eventually save her. And if it seems like I’m giving this movie heavier analysis than usual, it’s that kind of movie. Kerchak finally agrees to let Tarzan stay when Kala tells him that his family is dead and there were no other humans. Kala tells Kerchak that Tarzan will make a good son, and Kerchak snarls “I said he could stay. That doesn’t make him my son.” And I recommend watching this scene for anyone under the illusion that Lance Henrikson is not a scary motherfucker. Kala sings a lullaby to Tarzan to get him to sleep, and I have to give the animators props on some absolutely superb infant animation. The baby is cartoonishly adorable, but moves so realisically I’m not entirely convinced they didn’t just get a real baby and dip it in paint.
We skip ahead a few years and Tarzan has grown into a sprightly moppet voiced by recovering Nice Young Gentleman Who’s Doing the Best He Can; Alex Pruitt.
Nah, fair’s fair. He’s been in some crap but he’s fine in this. Tarzan is beloved by his adopted mother, but the other gorillas look on him as a freak. It’s kind of like Hercules, except I give a stuttering rat’s ass. Oh, and Kerchak really doesn’t like him. In fact, when Tarzan accidentally runs into Kerchak, Terk (Rosie O’Donnell) has to rescue him. Terk was originally supposed to be male (he’s a male in the book, but he’s Tarzan’s enemy, not a friend) but none of the actors Disney brought in were able to make the character work. Finally Rosie O’Donnell read for the part and they liked her so much they gender flipped the character. Terk ditches Tarzan to meet up with her friends at the elephant watering hole spaldadlalala…
But Tarzan manages to keep up. Terk’s friends want her to get rid of him, so she tells him that to join the group he has to pluck a hair from an elephant’s tail. Terk thinks Tarzan will back off, but instead he leaps into the watering hole, belly flops and gets rescued by a friendly hippopotamus.
We now meet Tantor the baby elephant and his family. Tantor is kind of a hypochondriac, asking his mother if the water is sanitary and worrying about bacteria. He then sees Tarzan swimming towards the herd and shouts out a warning that there’s a piranha in the water. His mother tells him that there are no piranhas in Africa, and then one of the other elephants corrects her, and then a third elephant corrects him that they are indeed native only to South America and whoah whoah whoah…
How do these elephants know about bacteria, piranhas and frickin’ South America?! Do they have a subscription to the National Geographic?! Well anyhow, the elephants start to panic when Tarzan grabs a hair from one of them and he sets off a stampede.
The elephants storm through the gorillas nesting grounds, and Kerchak has to save one of the infant gorillas from being trampled. Which he does. Like an absolute boss. Terk pulls Tarzan from the water, but he’s not breathing. Tantor warns Terk away from Tarzan, yelling “Don’t you know a piranha can strip your flesh in seconds!?”
NO! SHE DOESN’T KNOW THAT! HOW DO YOU?!
Anyway, the other gorillas show up and Kerchak is pissed (understandable, almost seeing another baby die has got to open up old wounds) and tells Kala that Tarzan will never learn to be one of them. Tarzan runs off but Kala finds him. We get a…oh man, this scene is just beautiful. Kala shows him all the things they have in common, (two eyes, hands, heartbeat, love of delicious, delicious bananas) and says that they’re basically the same. Tarzan resolves to prove himself to Kerchak and become the best ape ever.
This takes us into the next song, Son of Man which acts as a montage showing Tarzan becoming stronger and more adept at living in the jungle, learning to climb trees, using tools and learning to swim with the help of friendly hippos.
Okay that’s it. Stop. Sorry. This is a real pet peeve of mine. Why the fuck do hippos get a free pass? Why do we still labour under this misguided delusion that hippos are our friends? Hippos are not our friends. Hippos are our worst enemies (and that’s saying something, human beings have a larger and more impressive rogues gallery than Batman). We treat sharks like they’re Satan with a mohawk and yet how do we depict literally the most dangerous animal in all of Africa?
We make little boardgames of them swallowing marbles and stick them on cereal boxes. Why? Because they look like sentient leather couches? In conclusion: Fuck hippos.
We also see Tarzan learning his signature move, swinging from the trees like a Shia LaBeouf in its native habitat. Tarzan now grows into an adult, voiced by Tony Goldwyn. Tarzan is probably one of the most taciturn of all the Disney leads but Goldwyn does a great job with the relatively few lines he’s given. He’s got a really deep voice, almost like a gorilla’s grunt. I also have to give props to Tarzan’s animator, the great Glen Keane for creating a character that looks and moves like nothing else in the Disney canon. Watching the Making Of for this movie, one of the points that gets made over and over again is that this is the first screen depiction of Tarzan where he actually moves the way he’s described as moving in Burrough’s original novels.
Tarzan’s now twenty and has become an asset to the troupe. And Tantor. Who now just…hangs around with the gorillas. Tantor makes my head hurt. Oh yeah, also he’s now voiced by Wayne Knight.
Sabor suddenly attacks and Kerchak tries to fight her off but is injured. And then Tarzan swings in with a spear to show Sabor how we do things at the top of the food chain.
A kick ass fight scene that kicks ass ensues, and ends with Tarzan lifting Sabor’s broken corpse over his head and hollering vowels.
The other gorillas treat Tarzan like a hero, but Tarzan lays Sobar’s body at Kerchak’s feet and it looks like Kerchak might, just might, be about to show Tarzan something like affection when they hear a gunshot in the distance.
Kerchak orders the troupe to move out, but Tarzan sneaks off to investigate. It’s now that Tarzan sees one of his own species for the first time: Clayton.
Alright, so let’s get this out of the way. Clayton, to me, is by far the weakest element of this movie. He’s a very generic Disney villain in the same way Ratcliffe was, but without David Ogden Stiers excellent voicework to help carry the character. The casting is also off, because they decided that the villain of this movie should be voiced by BRIAN BLESSED. Look, I love BRIAN BLESSED, he’s a big hammy teddybear. He’s like Santa Claus’s randy brother. But, and I’m sorry for uttering such a controversial statement…he’s not the most subtle performer.
And a good Disney villain needs subtlety. You gotta have some strings with the brass. But BRIAN BLESSED doesn’t do subtly, he’s just a big loud trumpet. This is not how you use your BRIAN BLESSED. What else? Well, the design doesn’t really do anything for me. And to top it off he’s boring! He just wants to capture some gorillas for cash. I mean, that can work as a motivation for a character (Jesus, McLeach was terrifying) but you need something more. If they’d kept the back story from the book (Clayton is Tarzan’s cousin who usurps his inheritance) that could have been interesting. Or if they’d gotten an actor who could bring some gravitas and menace to the character like…who else were they considering? Oh you are kidding me…
Yeah, apparently this is around the five hundredth Disney movie that they considered Patrick Stewart for and he turned them down. He was also offered Triton, Zazu, Zeus, Jafar…just tell me he finally got to do something with Disney, please?
Mr. Woolensworth in Chicken Little.
Fuck. Every. Damn. Thing.
Oh, we also meet Jane, of “Me Tarzan, you…” fame. How do I feel about this character? Okay, the design is fantastic and also kinda dishy.
Scratch that; really dishy.
Scratch that; *low animal growl of primal lust*.
And I love the character as written; a hilarious, nerdy, flighty fish out of water. It’s just…I don’t like Minnie Driver’s performance. Sorry. It’s not bad exactly, it just doesn’t gel with the character onscreen. It just sounds like a bad fit, it’s hard to describe. We also meet her dad, Professor Porter (Nigel Hawthorne) and learn that the two of them have come to Africa to study gorillas and that Clayton is their jungle guide. The three proceed through the jungle with Tarzan watching them until Jane comes across a small monkey.
She sketches him in her notebook, and he likes the picture so much he snatches it from her and runs off into the jungle. Jane manages to wrest it back off him so he starts crying. Which attracts the attention of his family. A mob of vicious killer baboons.
They chase her through the jungle and Tarzan swoops down and rescues her, leading the baboons on a mad chase through the vines and the animation in this scene is just flawless. It’s fluid, thrilling and absolutely hilarious, just a great, great sequence. So anyway, Tarzan gives the baboons back the drawing and Jane finds herself trapped in a tree with “a man who talks to monkeys”. Jane is clearly frightened of Tarzan because he really doesn’t get personal boundaries and he’s all up in her personal space. Oh, and then we get an absolutely beautiful piece of animation where he gently pulls her glove off and realises that they’re the same species. It’s just…this movie is so gorgeous…I…MOVIE, MARRY ME!
Terk and and the gorillas start messing around with the camps possessions and creating different sounds and we get the only wholly non-diegetic song in the entire movie; Trashin’ The Camp. Trashin’ the Camp is kind of a tough one to rate. It was written because Rosie O’Donnell would only voice Terk on the condition that she got a song and it kind of shows. It doesn’t advance the plot like the other songs, and it doesn’t even really have lyrics other than “Zooby zo doo wop” style scat. And frankly Phil Collins, that’s just not good enough. I mean, when you’re writing songs for a Disney movie you’ve got to be mindful of the great songwriters who have gone before you. You’d never see the Sherman brothers filling their songs with meaningless nonsense words!
Ahem. Objection withdrawn.
Tarzan and Jane arrive back at the camp to see that Terk and the other gorillas have trashed it in the name of artistic expression. Jane sees Tarzan talking with Terk and realises that the gorillas think he’s one of them. Kerchak arrives and for a moment it lookes like he’s going to re-enact the end of King Kong with Jane (only this time, it will be the Beast that killed Beauty) but he spares her and orders the rest of the gorillas and Tarzan to move out. Porter and Clayton arrive back at the wrecked camp and Jane tells them everything that’s happened.
But then one day Tarzan arrives at the camp to see sailors dismantling the site and saying things like “Get it movin’ ye bilge rats!”
Jane explains that the boat has arrived to take them back to England and she asks Tarzan to come with them. Tarzan instead begs Jane to stay with him in the jungle and you can see she’s really torn. On the one hand, there’s her entire life, friends and family back in England. On the other hand there’s…
Tormented by the thought of not having those abs to wash her clothes on (this is pre-washing machine, don’t forget) she runs off in tears. Well, Clayton may be a poor excuse for a Disney villain but he’s still mastered emotional manipulation 101 so he tells Tarzan that if he can lead them to the gorillas, Jane can stay. Tarzan agrees, and Clayton tells one of the sailors, Snipes, to round up some men.
Tarzan asks Terk to distract Kerchak long enough for Jane and the other humans to visit the gorillas and at first she’s dead against it. Terk is hurt because Tarzan’s been ignoring her since Jane arrived, but you get the feeling that it’s not because Terk is in love with Tarzan or anything. It’s more of a “stupid girl stole my best buddy” kinda thing which I really like. Tarzan finally convinces Terk by asking her as a friend and making a face like a lolcat.
Cut to Terk, dressed in Jane’s clothes, and Tantor, with his trunk made up to look like Porter, being chased through the jungle by a furious Kerchak. I like Kerchak too much to believe that he’d be such a dumbass as to actually think that humans typically have elephants coming out of their asses, so I’m just gonna go ahead and assume that he knows it’s them and is going to beat the shit out of them for for thinking he’d fall for that.
Tarzan takes Jane, Porter and Clayton to the gorillas nesting grounds and after a little trepidation, the gorillas warm to Jane. Jane asks Tarzan to teach her some gorilla, and they make “Ooo oo chee” noises at each other for a bit. It should be a sweet scene, but I can’t really enjoy it because it triggers flashbacks to those damn Monkey Kombat levels from Monkey Island 4.
But the tranquil is broken when Kerchak arrives and sees Clayton’s gun and goes himshit insane. Tarzan wrestles Kerchak to the ground to allow Jane, Porter and Clayton to escape and actually ends up wounding Kerchak. Ashamed at what he’s done, Tarzan runs off into the forest. Kala finds him, and takes him to where she first found him all those years ago.
Tarzan explores the treehouse his parents built, now overgrown with vines ivy. He smells the blanket that he was wrapped in as a child and finds a picture of his parents on the floor.
Kala tells him that she just wants him to be happy, no matter what he decides. She waits outside, and when Tarzan emerges from the house, he’s wearing one of his father’s suits (still in pretty good condition, he just had to shake some bones out of the sleeves). Tarzan tells her that she will always be his mother, and leaves for the ship.
Tarzan boards the ship and Jane tells him that everyone will want to meet him, including Darwin and Kipling. Which, considering this movie is probably set in around 1890 would be a very interesting meeting indeed.
But when they board the ship, Clayton’s staged a mutiny and Tarzan, Jane, Porter and the Captain are thrown in the hold and whoah whoah whoah whoah…
Clayton, you moronic sack of shit. Let’s go through the plan here, shall we? You capture the gorillas. You take them back to England and sell them for £300 pound a head. What part of your plan gives you immunity from prosecution for hi-jacking a fucking ship? I’m pretty sure they’re still hanging people for that in this time period. So what’s the back up plan? You just become a pirate, roaming the African coast looking for plunder with your crew of trained gorilla buccaneers?
Which sounds fucking awesome, yes, go do that.
Anyway, Tarzan tries to fight them off but he’s not so hot at climbing when he’s wearing shoes and he gets captured. He gives a roar so loud that Tantor and Terk hear him back on land. Terk is bitter that Tarzan left her but Tantor says “I’m sick of your emotional constipation” and insists they go save Tarzan. Tantor and Terk leap into the ocean and swim towards the ship, with Tantor using his trunk as a periscope.
Fuckin’ Tantor, man. Everything I think I know, he just turns upside down. He’s like the god of chaos. Or Stephen Fry.
Anyway, Tantor and Terk climb aboard, beat up some sailors and spring Tarzan and the rest from the hold. Clayton and his men attack the nesting grounds and Kerchak is caught in a net and about to get shot when Tarzan arrives, bringing all the creatures of the jungle with him to drive off the invaders wait just a damn minute here!
Tarzan frees Kerchak who says in disbelief “You came back?” and Tarzan replies “I came home.” Jane and Tarzan save Kala from being carried off but then Clayton takes aim and shoots at both of them. Kerchak roars and lungs at Clayton who shoots him dead.
Furious, Tarzan pursues Clayton up into the forest canopy and manages to get his gun off him. Clayton mocks him saying “Go ahead. Shoot me. Be a man.” He hears a gunshot and thinks Tarzan pulled the trigger, but Tarzan just mimicked the sound of the gun to dick with Clayton and says “Not a man like you!” and smashes the gun to pieces. Because Tarzan knows a real man doesn’t need to use a gun. Not when he can beat you to death with his bare hands. Clayton lunges at Tarzan with a knife and gets entangled in some vines. Which leads us to probably one of the most infamous Disney villain deaths in the entire canon. Clayton slashes at the vines, unaware that one has wrapped itself around his neck so that when he falls the vine snaps his neck, thus becoming the first Disney villain to die by hanging.
The battle’s over, but Kerchak’s dying and Tarzan rushes to his side to hear his last words.
No, of course not. Kerchak asks Tarzan’s forgiveness, tells him to lead the troupe after he’s gone and finally calls him “my son”. Kerchak dies, and Tarzan assumes leadership of the gorillas.
Later, on the beach, Tarzan and Jane say their goodbyes. As the rowboat makes its way back to the ship however, Porter convinces Jane that she belongs with Tarzan and she swims back to him and they kiss on the beach. And the movie ends with a triumphant reprise of Two Worlds with Tarzan and Jane swinging through the jungle together with Tarzan giving the iconic “AAAAAAEEEEEAAAAAEAAAAA!” Funnily enough, that was not performed by Tony Goldwyn, but by BRIAN BLESSED, who the filmakers decided was much better at random shouting.
This movie has So much going for it; peErless animation, a seriously heavyweight cast, faNtastic music and a great story well tolD. It also improves vastly on the source material, turning Edgar Rice BurrougH’s badly written mishmash of sExist and racist tropes into an epic with reaL emotional heft and heart. It’s a beautiful, deePly rewarding film and honestly, if it wasn’t for the lacklustre villain I’d be Putting it near the top spot. This movie deserves a bigger folLowing and a bEtter reputAtion that it’S gotten to datE!
Well, that’s it for me. I’ll see you next in TIME AND LOCATION REDACTED. HAIL CROW!
FINAL SCORE: 78%
NEXT TIME: The day of reckoning has finally arrived as Mouse and Comrade Crow face off for control of the blog. And they’ll review Fantasia 2000 if they can squeeze it in.
NEXT UPDATE: 03 October 2013.
Neil Sharpson AKA The Unshaved Mouse, is a playwright, comic book writer and blogger living in Dublin. The blog updates every second Thursday. Thanks for reading!
Avast ye swabs! It be the holy nineteenth, so let all comments downwind o’ mine be in yer heartiest pirate talk! Mr Animation Commendation, secure the rigging! Ms Swanpride chart our course and be quick about it or I’ll pluck yer feathers to stuff me pillow! Reverend Sempai, sacrifice a cabin boy to appease the Dark Gods of the deep! Ms Amelia! Grog, damn yer eyes! Mr Daniel and Mr Knight, check the powder’s dry for the Redcoats will surely seek repayment for our good work in Port Royal if the devil will our paths should cross again! Mr Brahms, strike up a shanty and if there be any more talk of mutiny I swear I’ll break the cat upon your knavey backs and if not call me a Turkman!
Set sail, lads! To Barbados or to the Devil hisself!
Am I too late to sacrifice a cabin boy? D:
Yeah, on any other day they call it “murder”. Fucking liberals.
hmph. Thanks, OBAMA.
(Question, can one speak like Charles Laughton’s Captain Kidd with just a British accent or do we need to go the Robert Newton “Treasure Island” way with an exaggerated British accent and “piratisms”? …. Piratisms it is, then!)
Arr, well I be the first to say that this here film be an amazing piece of work. Worth more than three treasure chests of doubloons, Blackbeard’s beard, and a woman in every port! I can’t be even understandin how this film be not remembered much in times like these.
(Everyone’s shaking their heads in sorrow of my horrible piratey accent)
But if I be at the helms of this film, I’d commit mutiny with a loyal crew to make sure no gallivanting Phil Collins sings. The shanties o’ his writing make no imprint in this foul mind of mine, and I’d be a happy Jack if the film was musical-like.
(Everyone’s digging holes to hide from my horrible piratey voice)
One final thing, Captain Mouse, well, two to be precise-like. One: Are you too being a fan of QI since you mentioned the devillish witchcraft of confoundation concocted by the famous Stephen Fry of Britannia? And two: Are you being really unshaved, Captain Mouse, or is that just a yarn o’lies spun by ye?
(Everyone’s buried in their holes lying peacefully away from the clamor and cacophony that is my horrible piratey vocalization).
Curse your insolence sir! Young Master Collins shanties are as the singin’ of the angels themselves. And what’s this talk of me unshavedness? Name the hour and I’ll show ye stubble that could keelhaul a man.
Pirate talk? Alright, i’ll try.
Argh, fantastic review chap. I agree bout dis flick ben undarated urgh. (I am sorry, I am really trying). Driva’s parfarmance ded need some used to, but it’ll iight. D’animaiton is booyuful, and da charctas are fantastic. I’m sorry, I can’t do anymore.
I really like the characters in this film except for Clayton who is less interesting then wall drying. The music is good, but for some reason a lot of people hate Phil Collins. When people say that this film is bad, they really don’t have a reason.
As you can see, there is an issue about the later Renaissance films being bad and performing poorly, which really was not the case, especially because ALL did better than Mermaid. I don’t see how all of those four are better and all of the 5 films in the later Renaissance.
Da blog ave ma laughing m’ass off chap. Ooh, ya at da Post-Renssaince era now……… good luck la (yull need it). Dere some BAD films dere.
Oh yes and everyone, I just posted my Over the Hedge review of the DreamWorks review on my blog (click m’username). Comment if yall want to.
Oh yeah, I just voted 4 u and u r now 15th place.
Thankee kindly Mr Jayden. I neglected to give ye yer orders in the first post as ye were below decks, sick with dengue.
“The music is good, but for some reason a lot of people hate Phil Collins.”
I don’t get the Phil Collins hate either. My mom is a huge fan of his and I’ve only ever had good memories attached to him.
Maybe it is because he broke the musical code or that he used the album to promote himself and to make it poppy. Maybe?
I remember in an earlier post, unshavedmouse was saying that the best Disney movie is yet to come, and somehow I thought that this was it. But I guess it isn’t. What could it be then? Tangled? Meet the Robinsons? Lilo and Stitch? I pray it’s not Chicken Little (even though I like that movie)
So fun fact time. I live in Tarzana CA (when I’m not at school), which is apparently the only city in the United States that is named for a fictional character. Why is the city named after Tarzan? Because Tarzana is situated right on what used to be Edgar Rice Burrough’s ranch. Really. His house was right down the street from me. His grandkids (or great-grandkids, not sure) kept sheep there for a while before they sold the place (it’s now a small housing development). Our local library has what amounts to a shrine to ERB at the entrance. So that’s pretty cool.
Tarzan rocks. I had the VHS of this growing up and I wore it out pretty hard. I actually put in that VHS tape back in the spring to watch the movie and the film was pretty scratchy and stuff because the tape was so worn out. Still a fun rewatch though. I really enjoy Jane’s character, they got her so right which is awesome because if she’d been just a generic love interest, the movie’s narrative really would have suffered. You really feel the chemistry between her and Tarzan so everything he does for her (and she for him) is totally believable. If that hadn’t been the case, we’d probably all be watching this movie and thinking to ourselves “Why is Tarzan doing all this for this dumb bitch? SHE’S NOT WORTH IT YOU MORON” but instead we totally understand why he is willing to bring her to the nesting grounds.
As far as Clayton goes, I kind of like him. I find Brian Blessed’s performance to be reasonably charming though, as you said, somewhat overdone. His final fight with Tarzan and his death redeem him a lot though. It’s some fantastic animation.
So yeah, Tarzan is awesome and deserves more recognition. Last time I’ll be typing those words for a while (though Atlantis may be somewhat deserving of them)
Ah, there’s still a few classics left.
Definitely, but not for a little while. Granted, I don’t remember much of Fantasia 2000 so maybe it’s great, but until we hit Princess and the Frog, the only ones that I would say are great or come close are Lilo and Stitch (which is great) and Atlantis (which comes close)
What about groove and Bolt?
Yep…Treasure Planet, Lilo and Stitch, Tangled and Wreck it Ralph are my clear favourites. Followed by Emperor’s new groove and Fantasia 2000.
I would say Lilo and Stitch, PatF, Tangled, and WiR. Bolt is pretty good too, but there are some BAD ones that you would rather watch Pocahontas over.
Groove and Bolt are both good but neither approach great. Groove is very funny but can be rather annoying at times. Bolt is just solid but never really rises above that.
And to those of you throwing out Treasure Island: no. Just, no. It wasn’t bad by any means but it was not good either. Especially when you start comparing it to the OTHER family friendly adaptation of Treasure Island that came out just a few years prior: Muppet Treasure Island. That movie is infinitely more enjoyable
And more shallow…sorry, I get the love for the Muppets, but this movie is basically a spoof of the book. It is always easier to spoof something than to tell a meaningful story. Those two movies are totally different. They address a different audience (Muppets is meant for younger children and Muppet fans while Treasure Planet is meant for all ages), they have different goals (Muppets makes fun of the story and Treasure Island tries to retell it from a new angle by expanding the character of Jim Hawkins) and a different approach (starting with the fact that the Muppet version is a Musical while the Disney version isn’t)
Just because movies are different doesn’t mean you can’t compare them. They tell the same basic story and frankly, I think the Muppets told it better. I didn’t care at all for the relationship between Jim and Silver in TP but I loved their relationship in MTI. And MTI doesn’t have the ungodly annoyance that is Ben, or a truly awful out of nowhere ending (the planet exploding, seriously?). TP isn’t bad, it’s just not very good while MTI is VERY good and can be enjoyed by anyone, whether they’re a Muppet fan or not. The humor is great, the music is great, and Tim Curry is so much fun to watch.
Well, I’m not a Muppet fan, but I’m a Treasure Island fan, and I consider the adaptation as “I watched it once, it was okay, but the pirate song is great”, so no, it can’t be enjoyed by everyone. In fact, the “stupid native tripe” subplot is one I particularly hate. And I don’t see much of a relationship between Jim and Silver in this movie.
If you ask me, the best adaptation of Treasure Island is the one with Orson Welles, because he rocks in the role of Long John Silver. Treasure Planet and Der Schatz im All is up there, too. The Muppet version is good in what it is trying to do, but as an adaptation, it is mediocre in my eyes.
(clears throat<Like Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Carribean) Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum!
Arr, me matey, there be a few questions that need chartin', or i'll be sending someone to Davey Jones locker or my name isn't Keelhaul Knight.
Firstly, matey, was it me ye were referring to, when ye were saying, "hello Knight". Ye should be keelhauled for ye slander of calling me so respectablea being. He reminds me of meself, but absent me terrible anger
Secondly, I think ye be needing to be paying fer use of my services at an earlier battle. Jus' sen me a boon that I may call on, if I ever be in need of yer services, ye landlubbin bilge mouse.
an before I go, I leave you with a final shot across the bow of your fine ship. I be wondering if ye ever heard of a fine young lass by name of Laura Ingalls Wilder. She once fixed me a fine heaping of a dish called chicken pot pie, ah, now that was a dish for the captain and master of his ship. When I asked the lass where she got the chicken, as we hadn't looted any chickens since we made port at Isla Mujeras. She says to me, "it be blackbird pie."
In truth, I have a blackbird in need of piein’.
Then I be sendin ye a courier soon wit the way charted to make a blackbird pie. I hav them ther charts somewhere in me private quarters.
oh, and I be sendin ye the lass who knows the secret to the pie’n. She’ll make you a pie so sweet an tasty you’ll think you done tried to drown your sorrows in grog
Really weirdly, a female friend showed up at my house with fish pie last night.
Was it good?
“Someone on the Confused Matthew boards said that if I mentioned Bahia one more time they’d reach through the screen and punch me in the face. So maybe I shouldn’t mention Bahia so much. I do say Bahia a lot. Bahia.”
I must confess, the grog had muddled me. Twas not the Confused Matthew board but some other wretched den of knaves and sea rats.
Project AFTER, perchance?
Beggin ye pardon, cap’n, but the great Patrick Stewart did the voice of the Great Prince in Bambi 2, one of the VERY few sequels that does not completely deserve to be thrown in Davy Jones’s locker. He was a great mix of being the stoic beast in the original, and feeling like a real father. Like Bambi, it doesn’t really have a plot, just follows Bambi’s life in the aftermath of his loss, but tis a fine film all the same. A very worthy successor.
And make the bastard on the Confused Matthew boards walk the plank! Bahia is my favorite joke on the whole blog! Argh!
By God sir! Speak in favour of the sequels on my ship again and it’s YOU who’ll be for the plank!
We’ll keelhaul the bilge rat later capn. would you care for a side of cured venison culled from the shores of the new world of the Americas?
It was a blessed fight he put up, but we got the stag as it stood over a field on a heap of rocks, like the land lubbin captain of a prarie schooner he was, but we gots em all the same.
Tonight, we dine in style my mateys.
Speaking of sequels, who saw Tarzan & Jane? My verdict: Not as mind-numbingly awful as Cinderella II or as rage-inducingly horrible as Mulan II, but just bland and a bit disappointing…there were some ideas worth exploring that they just couldn’t do justice to, since they committed to making it episodic instead of a feature-length film.
I believe Tarzan & Jane, though not great, is a MUCH more worthy sequel than Tarzan II, which wasn’t even a sequel at all! It was the start of Disney misnaming their movies, so it will always leave a bad taste in my mouth. Story was not great at all either, and Tarzan was voiced by Boots in Dora the Explorer (ugh..). Plus, Tarzan & Jane ALREADY came out YEARS before Tarzan ii, so what was the point??
Anyways, even though Tarzan & Jane basically put 3 episodes of the Legend of Tarzan together (good show but wish they had been a bit more creative than that with the movie), I still enjoyed it. It does what Tarzan II did not, which was take place AFTER the events of the first movie.
“A prince. Does not. ‘WOO-HOO.'”
“Hmm,” says I to meself, “Cap’n Mousebeard must be near dead on his feet, judging by the load o’ typos in the final parag-… OH.”
In compliance with yer orders, I be sendin’ five bottles o’ grog.
Make sure ye don’t smoke while drinkin’ ’em, should an ember fall in and ignite the rum, causing a goodly explosion o’ hellish glass and fire, and possibly woundin’ or killin’ any sorry sons o’ manatees who happens to be near ye at the time.
And don’t ye be lettin’ the bottles break. In particular, don’t break off the bottom in such a way as would let ye hold the neck o’ the bottle and stab a matey with the jagged end.
Here be a tale ter entertain ye in the dread crow’s brig: when the dread gods made this sorry ball o’ dirt we call a planet, hippos were intended for me very own native New Holland. Why not keep the most horrifyin’ beasts of land, sea and air neatly filed in the one spot? But the continent itself overdosed on nightmares and spat ’em onto Africa like a seasick dog. I swear on me m̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶’̶s̶ ̶g̶r̶a̶n̶d̶m̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶’̶s̶ pet cockerel’s grave it be true.
I hear crows be partial to a drop o’ grog as well, if all else be failin’.
It still be the 19th here in New World, Captain!
So that be why Rosie O’Donnell — and a stranger beast I never did see! — played Terk. Truth, me brains never could sort that one out.
And aye, Captain, ye spoke truly of the wonders of the animation. (Although, if I might be frank, sir, t’was a bit jarrin’ at first view to watch 2-D Porter jump into 3-D water near the end. Them’s my opinion, sir, and I’ll stand by it, even if it means the a taste of the cat.) But I’ll join you in a hearty rendition of “Two Worlds” or “Son of Man” or “Stranger Like Me” — for between ourselves, the only sea shanties I be knowin’ would shame me poor mother and set her heart a-grievin’.
You win pirate.
Ugh. She should not sing again. I do not like Terk because the voice is annoying, but at least she got to accomplish her dream of being in a Disney movie.
Shoot, it’s still the 19th here… I mean… Argh, it still be the 19th here! This movie be the main reason I like Phil Collins so much now, says I. To tell the truth, when I was but a wee lass, I loved this movie, but alas, as the years wore on, I too forgot it as ye described in yon blog. But avast! In the early days of me college edication, I did watch it again on a whim, and found it held up remarkably well. Tis now one of my favorites, and Jane ranks up there with Mulan, Ms. Bianca, and Tiana as one of my favorite Disney heroines.
Thanks for pointing out the thing with the unusual knowledge of the elephants…the scene always bothered me, but I could never put the finger on it why.
I so agree…first concerning Clayton, who, I think would have worked way better if he had been an unmoral explorer as a foil to Jane’s and Professor Porter’s (props to him for being one of few really good Disney fathers) more careful approach. But if he had to be poacher, they should at least try to make him less obvious evil.
Also concerning the voice acting. Jane it the main reason why I always watch this movie in German. There she is spoken by a comedian who is really, really good with fast-talking.
There are some details in this movie, which are taken alone not really that bad, but putting them together they drag the movie down a little bit. But before I write another one of my overly long comments, this is faster:
It’s still the best Tarzan adaption I know, nevertheless, and certainly belong to the top half of the Disney movies.
Yeah, Clayton is probably the blandest villain behind Shan Yu. You should really start a blog.
DISHONOR ON YOUR COW!
And deprive fanpop of my articles? Do you really want me to do that? (Not that anyone seemed to read my last one, but I guess Swiss Family Robinson is not a particularly interesting topic).
You could do both like I am. I missed that article but I’ll continue to read. I’m just not that familiar with the live action Disney films.
I can do one or another…I really don’t have the time to do both.
I would agree that Shan Yu is kind of bland. He’s menacing and ruthless, but for me, comes off as very 2-dimensional. That’s why I wouldn’t place him in my top 10 (maybe #12).
And I can now safely say that, with that Monkey Island 4 reference, you completely own my heart. Well done, sir. Well done.
You comment like a dairy farmer.
How appropriate. You reply like a cow.
I don’t hate Tarzan. (sigh of relief! lol)
But I don’t love it either. It’s one of those “in the middle” movies.
The only beef I have with your review, is the rating you gave the animation. Technically, it’s great. But I personally think it simply lacks a distinctness or flair. -Forgive my erudite artistic terminology, lol. In fact, some scenes look downright… robotic. Like the moving bushes in the camp scenes, whenever a gorilla or person walks through ’em. Or the final scene with the ocean water. The meshing of computer and hand-drawn, I guess, didn’t quite gel all that fluidly.
In terms of Art Direction, movies like “Sleeping Beauty”, “Pocahontas”, “Bambi”, and “The Lion King”, to name a few–are simply superior. They are incredibly well-conceived and adroit. You are literally in a new universe in those movies, with its own visual code. “Tarzan” has inspired moments, but like I said: it’s spotty and more importantly in my eyes–isn’t particularly unique.
That said, I’ll leave a on a positive note: I liked the theme of an “adopted”/nontraditional family that “Tarzan” touched on. That’s what I left the movie with, most.
One more animation note:
That leopard! Did you ever see a more overly-mannered drawing of a leopard? Geez! It had about twice the amount of joints in its body, than a regular leopard. THAT’s another animation gaffe, in my eyes lol. It was poorly/overly done ha.
That’swhat makes it so terrifying! We see the leopard as Tarzan and Gala see her, this demonic, slinking…thing.
Interesting interpretation lol… but it’s not realistic. It was way too distracting, to see such an awkward-looking thing. Also: I thought it was TOO bold and persistent. When it kept going after (grown up) Tarzan? Give me a break. Surrounded by a group of Gorillas? I know gorillas aren’t known to be fighters, but would a leopard be that overly persistent?
Nobody explained to her that attacking in a troop of gorillas was a bad idea. Nobody explains anything to Sabor!
I dunno, I’ve seen my cats slink around in all sorts of strange, stretched-out positions…I did think it was overly-mannered but not to the point of distraction.
Oh, yeah — I forgot to mention this before: awesome twist on the “monkeys” meme. I’ve read it like three times now and giggled every time like the girl I am.
Huh. I guess I just read Gram as Graham and assumed you were guy.
Nope — I’m definitely female. Ages ago to annoy someone I named myself “Grammar Police” but realized that sounded really pretentious. Plus the pressure to maintain perfect grammar and spelling myself got to be a bit much so I just abbreviated it.
How do you all feel about the upcoming German-English motion-capture “Tarzan” film with Kellan Lutz and Spencer Locke?
On a side note, just thought I’d plug (or plug in, whatever the correct phrase is) my “new” blog. I’ve started a blog in which I plan to watch and review all the live-action theatrically released Disney movies (just Buena Vista/Walt Disney Pictures, not the Touchstone, Marvel, or other such films) once a week. Check it out if you’re interested:
Tarzan was one of the first Disney films I ever saw in theatres. I was only three, but from what my parents told me, I really loved the opening.
And looking back now? I completely agree with younger me.
While the villain is bland, and side characters seem a bit hit-and-miss, I do enjoy this film even today. The animation and music is just too good to ignore.
As for your message involving the GLORY OF COMMUNISM, I shall spread the word to all who can do something about it.
(btw, are you more a gun person or a sword person, cause I have some on standby from past raids)
I’m really more of a “NOT IN THE FACE!!” person.
I only have one question. What’s with the secret message in the last paragraph of the blog?
Send help please
It seems me friend the mouse has gotten himself thrown in the brig of me enemys ship. He be sending me a message that I be needing to lay along side of the crows ship-of-the-line and blow her into Davey jone’s locker for good, and set free captain mouse.
Just so ye know, I already have a course charted to the furthest flung reaches of the seas to save me friend the mouse, and I shall bring him back from world’s end, or I be joining him in the brig!
…Whoa, I just thought he was implying that the movie was good except for BRIAN BLESSED’s hamminess.
And aye, may that black bird be baked into a pie four and twentyscore! Arrrrrgh!
(I might not be good at this)
It’s too bad that you gave Clayton such a low score that the movie fell under 80%. He really affected the movie that much?
Can’t stand him. 78% is still really good though.
Even though I loved the TV series, I never got around to re-watch “Tarzan” until very recently. But when I finally did, I was in for a real treat. Right now, it’s my favorite Disney Renaissance movie. I really like Tarzan himself as the protagonist, and I absolutely love Jane and her father. Just like Belle in “Beauty & the Beast”, Jane is brainy/bookish rather than a perfect beauty, and I really like that about her. Belle and Jane are the two Disney heroines, to whom I can relate the most. And yeah, Professor Porter might be my favorite Disney father. I have a soft spot for scientist/professor characters in general, and I really find him funny and cute. Not to mention that he’s a cool father and father-in-law. Clayton has been described as a “stock bad guy”, and while there might be some truth in that, he doesn’t only work as the villain of the movie. But I also love his reactions to the behavior to the other characters. You can really tell how he thinks “I’m the only sane person here”.
I just discovered this blog and have been reading it for the past few days- great stuff Mouse. I even decided to watch Tarzan which I had not previously seen. This one came out originally at a time in my youth when I pretty much became disinterested in Disney animated films (actually this probably happened around the time of Mulan but I do remember going to see that with a friend’s family or something), so it kind of has a weird place in the canon as a marker for the end of my childhood.
Anyway, I kind of regret not seeing it before now as I really enjoyed it, especially the animation which was indeed gorgeous. I will say I did not really care for the non-diegetic nature of the music as much as some seem too. It did not really work for me- especially opening the film with it straight away. I realize this is what The Lion King did as well, but that felt more epic too me where this seemed a little too music video-y.
I may have to continue getting caught up on the later-day films to follow along on here. I think Emperor’s New Groove might be the only one I have seen from this point on.
Welcome to the blog! Yeah, Tarzan was a real eye opener for me. Love that movie.
Thanks for giving this a perfect score on animation. It deserves it.
I can’t believe that no one has mentioned the absolute most epic part of this entire movie:
Tarzan’s dad’s one hundred percent most perfect mustache in the history of all mustaches ever!
Seriously, LOOK at that thing!!! It’s even better in the family portrait included in Mouse’s review. That mustache should win an award for best scene-stealing facial hair…
Seized by the fowl of the Reds, curses!! And he apparently took a page from the Horned King’s book of all people! Mercy on your soul, Mouse!
Not sure I’d call Tarzan completely forgotten. I probably can recite some of the early renaissance musical numbers better than any of Phil Collins’ songs, but that might be just because Broadway musical numbers are a bit more pull-you-in than scores are. Don’t worry, Phil Collins. Your songs may not be as catchy as the older ones, but you’ve made the iPod playlist more than any of the other soundtracks, you’ve always got that. Plus, Tarzan’s TV series was one of my favourites growing up. Maybe Tarzan missed the nostalgia timeframe for a lot of your generation, but it’s certainly not forgotten by me. Though Bernard may be. Aww, at least you have the lazy bastard kookaburras to be remembered by.
Spot on description of Kerchak there. He also reminds me a lot of Triton as well, maybe partly because, as you pointed out, he’s a scary motherfucker who definitely gave me chills the first time I saw him in theatre, and also because he’s got the same kind of human prejudice. And I think it really shows Disney’s growth to this point that the writers make him and Tarzan both kind of turn out right in the end. Triton’s mostly made out to be overly controlling and needing to change his mind, and has never really gotten to the point of being sympathetic with me. Watching the movie more recently, I find one of the strongest moments of the film that part where Kerchak finds Clayton et al in his nesting site and has that look that looks super pissed, but also in disbelief and almost a little scared. I somehow find him to be a lot more relatable than a lot of the more antagonistic Disney characters because he gets the sense of behind all his xenophobic cynicism, he mostly just wants to keep his family safe. The fact that he decided Tarzan’s saving everyone else made up for getting him killed makes me think this.
How do you think the elephants knew about South America? Jose dropped in to give another one of his educational lessons, and brought some of them into a book on the page that pictured the aquatic life of the Amazon river. Likely, that elephant went rogue, but not before he told the horrifying tale of the demonic fish from beyond the Atlantic…
…But yeah, it’s a wonder that made any elephant bat an eyelash, living in hippo territory. It’s also a wonder Hyacinth didn’t just chomp Ben Ali’s neck in half when he was bothering her. I guess hippos get a free pass because they’re cute and chubby. Kind of like swans, aren’t they actually kind of vicious too? If not as demonic fowl as roosters or domineering as crows?
So I take it the real thing to take home regarding your opinion of Jane is “scratch that”, eh, Mousy? Also, I read Porter’s voice actor as “Nigel Thornberry” for a moment, and got confused. Funnily enough, that almost would kind of work.
Hmm… the Force of Agrabah sure got freaked out by those mandrills. Maybe it’s time Razoul reminded him that these monkeys don’t even have swords. Spineless lily-livers. Also, if you stop the Bahia jokes, I’ll reach through the computer screen and punch that Confused Matthew Boards commenter in the face! Viva Bahia!
Poor Sir Patrick. Kept out of a voice gig for the entire renaissance. Poor guy even got replaced as the resident facepalmer on this blog.. Speaking of Alice, is it midterms for her or something? There’s a scat song sung by simians and no sign of her. I guess that just reinforces your point in the Jungle Book. People now know Rosie O’Donnell so it’s pretty obviously not trying to draw any off-colour subtexts, which could easily have been the case with Louis Prima as well when he was more well known. In any case, that bit about Mrs. Potts cracked me up. Hmm, if most of her children died in the first movie, she must’ve been pretty eagerly delighted once she got her human body (and all the parts involved) back, methinks…
Hmm, Cameron’s a whore for copying off Tarzan? Most people say it’s Pocahontas he copied, would that make him worse or better?
Sweet review in any case. Lots of uproarious punchlines.
Triton did have a reason too to be prejudiced against humans. Obviously, Ariel’s mother was killed by a human! But still, I have to disagree with you. I see Triton as mostly sympathetic, Yes, he shouldn’t have destroyed Ariel’s collection. But he also regretted it almost immediately, and he was prepared to sacrifice himself for his daughter later in the movie. But with Kerchak, as much as he turned out to be partly right in the end, He was too grumpy for my taste. But yeah, the moment where he finally called Tarzan “my son” as he was dying is really pwerful.
Was it explained what happened to Ariel’s mother in The Little Mermaid itself? I seem to remember that only being in the prequel. Then again, I actually like the sequel, so it probably wouldn’t be fair for me to completely denounce the extended story.
Honestly, this is my second favorite post- renaissance movie after Hunchback, I don’t understand why it’s not more popular, it got good reviews. I think my favorite scene is when Tarzan takes Jane to the top of the trees to see the birds, and I just love the Strangers like me song. I don’t understand why Phil Collins is so hated, I love the soundtrack to this movie. This would make my personal top 10 Disney films, despite the weak villain, I think it’s deserves more recognition.
Jenessa: I have to totally agree with you, except for with Clayton being a weak villain. I really think that he was good for the part.
Awe thanks Furienna, I don’t think Clayton is that bad of a villian, but certainly not as memorable as Frollo, or Maleficent among others IMO:-)
Maybe not, but I still like how they used Clayton as a bored straight man to Jane’s and Professor Porter’s nerdiness, and he absolutely became threatening in the end of the movie. So I say the character works very well for me.
Yea I don’t have a huge problem with him either, but Clayton seems like a huge complaint from detractors of this movie or they don’t like the Phil Collins soundtrack. Even Mouse, let Clayton bring down this score a lot, which I think is unfortunate cause Tarzan is a beautiful movie. Plus Mouse gave Mulan a high score and I don’t find Shan Yu to be a good villain, and actually prefer Clayton so I don’t hate him by any means:-)
I had to just leave a comment about the hippos cos it reminded me of playing zoo tycoon as a kid
I always used to drop animals in the lion exhibit so they could eat them (dont judge me) and one day dropped a hippo. All the lions fled and the hippo went straight for a cub and killed it. I freaking panicked and was like NOOO MY BABIES then managed to catch it and delete before it could murder my entire freaking pride.
Yeah hippos are dicks, This always bothered me about tarzan too
…I am never going to your zoo.
The “Drumming Gorilla” advert is yet another instance of me seeing the parody before seeing the thing it’s a parody of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt7Wn4v3uRk
Dear Mouse, I came across this accidental masterpiece while browsing another blog and hope you will enjoy it quite as much as I did.
Fair warning, make sure to avoid reading it while eating or drinking (It is, in fact, THAT funny).