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when i first heard that disney's next animated feature was going to be tarzan , i was almost horrified .
i was worried that disney was going to make another hercules ( sorry , jerk-ules ) .
that effort was too overloaded with comedy ( and the hero was too boastful and pompous to be considered a sympathetic hero ) , and , after viewing it to this day , i find it a disgrace for disney animation .
when i saw the trailers , i was thinking " hmm . . .
this isn't bad at all .
this just might have potential . "
when i bought the soundtrack , i was really quite surprised at how different it sounded from most disney features .
i have never really heard of phil collins , nor have i heard of mark mancina , so i was wondering , how would these two make this disney flick spin ?
i was pleasantly surprised : the music is top-notch .
phil collins' songs are terrific , percussion-heavy pieces of work that seem to break the formula for typical disney songs .
the score from mark mancina was also neat ; it reminded me a bit of the lion king , but it was more original .
so , the soundtrack wasn't bad at all , considering it was by two people i am not familiar with .
this film could be good . . .
but will it be ?
when i finally went to see it ( on opening day , as i tend to do with most disney animated features ) , my question was answered , in a complete turnabout of expectations for me : disney's tarzan is surprisingly decent .
the story starts out with tarzan's parents surviving a shipwreck and finding a home on an island where apes live in peace .
however , one day , a vicious leopard , sabor , attacks and kills tarzan's parents , leaving him ( at this time , a baby ) alone-until kala of the apes rescues him .
kala wants to raise the child as her own ( she lost hers previously to sabor ) , but her mate , kerchak is not too sure .
" it's not our kind , " he says .
he agrees , though , to let her take care of little tarzan , but " that doesn't make him my son . "
tarzan grows up , vowing to be " the best ape ever " , but no matter how hard he tries or what he does ( at the guidance of his hilarious ape friend , terk ) , he just can't convince kerchak that he is one of the apes , even when he defeats sabor in a battle .
one day , a new animal shows up : humans .
this is where jane comes into the picture .
she is on an expedition with her father ( professor porter ) , and a despicable hunter ( clayton ) searching for gorillas .
tarzan rescues her when she is chased by baboons , and soon they get to know each other .
even though tarzan falls in love with jane , this causes things to go wrong .
clayton tricks tarzan into taking him , jane , and porter to see the apes , who are convinced that he has betrayed them .
worse , clayton has plotted to send the gorillas to london for money .
will tarzan find out which family he belongs to and save the apes ?
i'm not gonna tell you , sorry .
you're gonna have to see for yourself .
and see it you should ; the animation is , as always , top notch , particularly when tarzan goes soaring through the trees ( read that , skateboarding ) .
the deep canvas computer generated effect adds an authentic feeling to the jungle which tarzan lives in .
in fact , it seems similar to the computer imagery/cel animation combination in rival disney animted films , such as fox's anastasia and dreamworks' prince of egypt .
could it be that disney was actually taking ideas from their rivals ?
the casting is fairly good .
tony goldwyn is emotionally believeable as tarzan ( and to my relief , the animators have succeeded in not making him another hercules .
nicely done ) , and glenn close is wonderful as kala ( she has a beautiful singing voice , too , by the way ) .
lance henrikson as kerchak somewhat reminds me of robby benson's beast voice , which makes him all the more ferocious and gripping .
minnie driver had me a little worried at first as the voice of jane .
i thought she had the most annoying voice in the whole film ( when i first saw the trailers ) , but when i saw the film , i didn't have a problem with her .
i take back my insult on driver .
it's nice to hear nigel hawthorne do another voice for a disney animated feature ( he was fflewdurr flamm in disney's most underrated classic , the black cauldron ) ; he is funny and delightful as professor porter .
on the villiany side of the voices , brian blessed ( the guy who did boss nass in star wars : episode i-the phantom menace ) brings a pompous , and later on vicious , voice to the sinister clayton .
he might not be the strongest character in the film ( he's just a plain bad guy , nothing else ) , but blessed's vocal work contributes greatly .
but if there is any voice that i think steals the whole show , it should be rosie o'donnell , who is hilariously funny as terk .
she also has a fiesty attitude ( " i'm gonna kill ya ! "
she says , more than once ) .
i almost sung along with her during one of the film's best moments , where the apes make a mess of the human's camp , via song , er , scatting " shoo-be-doo , da-be-dah " .
i can see why she wanted to have a rock song for the film , she's a good singer .
not that she was the only funny character in the film , though .
wayne knight ( who played stan in space jam ) gives a whimsically funny style to tantor , an elephant who is especially worried about stepping into " un-sanitary " water .
( thankfully , there is no real sound of flatuence-that would have killed the picture ) .
the songs , as i said before , are decent , mostly sung by collins .
this sets a new standard for disney animated films because for the first time , the characters do not sing .
i tolerate musical numbers from characters a lot more than some other guys would , but i found this to be a nice change of pace .
the story does have elements of comedy in it , but they also load it with strong dramatic touches , which makes this film far better than the unbelieveably uninspired hercules .
if there is anything disappointing about tarzan , it might be the omission of the 'n sync version of " trashing the camp " from the film .
i heard it on the soundtrack , and wondered where it was going to be .
i was upset that it wasn't , because i had thought of taking a few friends of mine who like 'n sync to see tarzan .
oh , well . . .
overall , i was enthralled with tarzan .
i wouldn't hold it high the way i do with mulan or the hunchback of notre dame ( my all-time favorite disney classics ) , but this film deserves a high place among disney's greatest achievements .
i give a nod to disney for following up their spectacular * * * * * masterpiece , mulan , with this great animated adaption of egar rice burrough's tarzan .
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