THE SOURCE MATERIAL might be more than a century old, but for many people my age, The Legend of Tarzan will feel like a live-action sequel to Disney's 1999 cartoon (which, for what it's worth, is still the best animated film to feature a soundtrack by Phil Collins).
This time around, we begin with Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) as a British aristocrat who's forced to reconnect with his animalistic past after he travels to the Congo. At its best, The Legend of Tarzan is akin to Steven Spielberg's goofy Hook, and both movies feature a similar arc—a grown-up protagonist reluctantly returning to the role of hero.
But this Tarzan is also one of the slowest blockbusters I've ever seen: The first hour of the film consists largely of flashbacks that dumbly assume moviegoers aren't already familiar with its culturally ubiquitous subject. You'll see Tarzan reared by his adoptive gorilla family, you'll see Tarzan develop a relationship with Jane (Margot Robbie), and you'll see Tarzan do these things over and over again.
So it makes sense that most of the film's best moments don't involve Tarzan or Jane: Instead, Christoph Waltz offers the film's star performance as Leon Rom, a despicable captain of the Force Publique who kidnaps Jane and intends to enslave the region's natives. Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal as American Civil War veteran and journalist George Washington Williams—who, like Rom, was a real person—is also a high point, and Jackson's signature, straight-faced, Snakes on a Plane-esque declarations are the film's only source of genuine humor. This "alternative history" crisscrossing is sometimes awkward and annoying, but for the most part, it pays off—especially in the climax, when a stampede of antelope gouges an army of colonizing Belgians. Who wouldn't want to see that?