Monday April 27, 1998
The Lost City of Opar, the very cradle of civilization, is found in "Tarzan and the Lost City," but the complex, compelling man called Tarzan is lost in this sequel to the 1984 "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes."
You will be entertained. Good triumphs over evil in a movie that offers equal parts of "The Lion King," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and the Nickelodeon game show "Legends of the Lost Temple."
Certainly co-producer Stanley Canter and director Carl Schenkel have created a Tarzan for our times. But someone should have reminded them that our times have produced such cultural heroes as George Costanza and Homer Simpson.
Caspar Van Dien, the square-jawed hunk from "Starship Troopers," is a Tarzan for our times, all right--all the right moves, all the right abs, all the right relationships and none of the emotional struggle and native intellect that made Edgar Rice Burroughs' ape man a recurring character in the Hollywood sketchbook.
Our Tarzan is always a barefoot step behind the run-of-the-mill cro-European bad guys--a flat collection of plunderers with last names and facial hair led by Nigel Ravens (Steven Waddington doing an uncanny version of the Jim Carrey gap-lipped stare). The African warriors save Tarzan's loincloth a number of times. He gets killed at least once. Still, the story line had enough magic to work well enough as a clash-of-cultures movie without Tarzan at all.
Give Van Dien credit, though. He swings from vines. He yells. He speaks threateningly through clenched teeth. He never steps on a sharp rock while running through the veldt. He talks to the animals. He's a good listener too--mostly to animals, not to his Jane (Jane March). He just never displays any of the self-doubt or even hesitation of a man caught between two worlds.
It's all Jane's fault, of course. That's because Jane is the one who shows signs of modernity--though she only talks about smoking cigars, and she does tend to scream a lot around snakes. But so did Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones.
When Lord Greystoke leaves her days before their wedding to answer a vision from the chief, she waits a respectable period, then goes off to find him. Whither thou goest . . . very modern, that.
Tarzan and the Lost City, 1998. PG for adventure violence. Warner Bros. presents a Dieter Geissler/Alta Vista Production, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures-Clipsal Film Partnership, of a Carl Schenkel Film. Directed by Carl Schenkel. Screenplay by Bayard Johnson and J. Anderson Black, based on the "Tarzan" stories created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Executive producers Greg Coote, Peter Ziegler, Kurt Silberschneider and Lawrence Mortorff. Produced by Stanley Canter, Dieter Geissler and Michael Lake. Director of photography Paul Gilpin. Editor Harry Hitner. Visual effects supervisor Julian Parry. Production designer Herbert Pinter. Music by Christopher Franke. Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes. Casper Van Dien as Tarzan. Jane March as Jane. Steven Waddington as Nigel Ravens.