Many millions of years ago, there was an event in the centre of Africa that could have serious repercussions to what happens today for a vast asteroid broke into the Earth's atmosphere and embedded itself in the ground. But this was no ordinary meteorite, it was somehow alive, and all those millennia later the story of it has become legend which has prompted a search for it, so far a futile one. However, scientist Jim Porter (voiced by Les Bubb) believes he now has pinpointed its location, and has left his family behind in New York to investigate, accompanied by his friend and colleague John Greystoke (Mark Deklin) who as the CEO of a powerful company is funding his research...
Which is all very well, but what does it have to do with Tarzan? The clue was in the name Greystoke, for the CEO wasn't our hero, it was his son in a radical rewrite of the character's origins in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, so instead of Tarzan being a Lord back in Britain, he is an American heir to a large corporation, how very twenty-first century of him. We meet him when he is a small boy, on the trip to Africa with his parents who happen to stumble across the magic, giant rock and chip off a bit for further investigation which said rock is none too keen on, and erupts like a volcano, crashing their helicopter.
From then on, the source book is invoked as Tarzan is raised by gorillas, his parents having perished along the way, and we catch up with him in his teenage years where he first catches sight of Porter's daughter of his own age, Jane. Now, director Reinhardt Klooss created his movie with motion capture, and when he did he cast two extremely attractive Americans as Tarzan (Kellan Lutz) and Jane (Spencer Locke) to get into the special suits and have dots on their faces, which begged the question if you were going to cast two performers who looked that good in real life, what was the point in replacing their images with animation anyway?
Especially when not everyone actually liked the motion capture business that Klooss was apparently invoking the success of James Cameron's Avatar to ally himself to that style of production. Another issue was that we did not particularly need yet another Tarzan origin story, the target audience were presumably all too familiar with the Disney version of 1999, and though this swapped the questionable Phil Collins tunes for one Coldplay song, otherwise this effort suffered by comparisons that were always going to be made. However, if you could set that to one side, this German variation on one of the world's most celebrated fictional heroes, in spite of not quite reaching top gear, was not a total waste of time.
For a start, it was clear Klooss was an enormous fan of Tarzan, and he included science fiction elements in his tale of the Lord of the Jungle just as Burroughs had in his original novels that arrived later in the series when the character was established, something the film adaptations almost unanimously ignored. Even so, the space mountain has very little bearing on the storyline other than near the start and at the end, for as mentioned this was more intent on setting up the circumstances of Tarzan than it was plunging him into the farfetched runaround that could have been more engaging. That said, the backgrounds were fine, with Peter Elliott taking care of teaching the actors how to move like apes there was some nice simian movement in the gorilla seqences, and Tarzan didn't act out of character at any point, so there were no great radical changes to Burroughs other than updating him to being a rich American heir and including all the pro-environment, anti-damaging big business stuff this tended to lend itself to when this Tarzan was made. It was OK. Music by David Newman.