Director Hugh Hudson’s live action Tarzan adaptation swings onto Blu-ray with a faithful and filmlike high definition presentation, courtesy of the Warner Archive Collection manufacture-on-demand service.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 2 Hr. 17 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 07/16/2013
In the early 1980s, moviegoers were presented with not one, but two, Tarzan movies.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
The first, John Derek’s Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981), was conceived as a showcase for his pin-up-worthy wife Bo Derek, telling the familiar Tarzan story from the perspective of the Jane character, whom Derek played.
Though Derek’s sex appeal was undeniable, the film proved a failure with both viewers and critics alike, setting the stage for the next movie – Hugh Hudson’s Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) – to do much better on all fronts.
Though part of the film’s success came from simply being more faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1912 novel, it also did a fine job casting the lead role, an orphan raised by apes in the African jungle, which went to a then unknown Christopher Lambert. Supporting work by the inimitable Ian Holm as the Belgian explorer who discovers the legendary “ape man” and brings him back to civilization, also helped sell the more pulpy material, even when it pushed the boundaries of believability.
Rick Baker’s primate makeup effects, which deservedly received an Academy Award nomination, continue to impress today. In fact, it’s in the jungle scenes, where Tarzan is surrounded by his adopted ape family, that the film is most sure-footed. In the environment of Tarzan’s aristocratic heritage, things feel fairly perfunctory and predictable with its “stranger in a strange land” motif, though it’s ultimately in keeping with Tarzan’s fate that the jungle is where the story seems most at home.
Movie trivialists will be entertained by seeing Andie MacDowell in her first film role, playing the part of Jane, but vocally dubbed by Glenn Close due to MacDowell’s southern accent.
Framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer offers a faithful and filmlike presentation with strong and consistent contrast, nicely saturated color, and very good detail. Film grain appears intact with no signs of excessive digital manipulation.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is intelligible, though the mix can sometimes make one ride the volume dial to compensate for levels running too low (in the case of some dialogue) or too high (with soundtrack cues). Bass activity is fine, though LFE is of course absent.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
Special Features Rating: 1.5/5
- Commentary by Director Hugh Hudson and Associate Producer Garth Thomas
- Theatrical Trailer (1:29, HD)
Warner Home Video’s manufacture-on-demand Blu-ray of the superior 1980s Tarzan live action film offers a solid high definition presentation, though extras are understandably limited due to the film’s age. Nevertheless, the release is an easy one to recommend, especially for those looking for an adaptation more faithful to its source material.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
Support HTF when you buy this title: