FILM OF THE WEEK: The Legend Of Tarzan (12A) ****

It's been almost 100 years since Edgar Rice Burroughs' muscular protector of the jungle swung into action on the big screen, in the swaggering form of silent movie actor Elmo Lincoln.

Friday, 8th July 2016, 6:00 am
Margot Robbie and Alexander Skarsgard. PA Photo/Warner Brothers.

Johnny Weissmuller popularised the iconic role in the 1900s before more recent incarnations including Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan with Christopher Lambert and Disney’s animated rendering.

Written by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, The Legend Of Tarzan is an entertaining film that focuses on the love story between the orphaned hero and his plucky sweetheart against a backdrop of late-19th century treachery.

Director David Yates orchestrates vine-swinging action sequences, festooned with a menagerie of computer-generated animals that look incredibly realistic.

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Digital might beats its chest in every lush frame including in a bone-crunching fight scene.

However, Yates is careful to stoke the smouldering on-screen embers between Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie, so we root for the lovers when the odds are stacked against them.

It has been years since Tarzan (Skarsgard) left the jungles of Africa to settle into gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Robbie).

The lush paradise of the Congo is a sweet, distant memory until the British Prime Minister passes on an invitation from King Leopold II of Belgium to visit the Congo as a trade emissary of Parliament.

John initially refuses, but gun-slinging American envoy George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson) persuades the Greystoke heir to go, in order to investigate rumours that Leopold has enslaved local tribes to build his railroad.

John, Jane and George depart for the Congo, unaware that they are pawns in a game masterminded by Machiavellian Belgian envoy, Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), who has agreed to deliver Tarzan to Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) in exchange for the diamonds of Opar.

A stand-off ensues and Jane is captured as tantalising bait. Faced with the prospect of losing his soulmate, John gathers his animal friends and unleashes the primal warrior of the past.

Shot at Warner Bros. Studios near Watford and on location around the UK, The Legend Of Tarzan captures the bare necessities of Burroughs’ source text with gusto.

Skarsgard and Robbie are an attractive pairing, the latter imbuing her heroine with steeliness and resolve.