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" tarzan and the lost city " is one of the most anemic movies to come out in quite a while .
not only it is poorly written , badly acted , and generally incompetent in all cinematic areas , it is thoroughly uninspired and insipid .
unfortunately , it's not bad in the way great , colossal misfires like " heaven's gate " ( 1980 ) or " ishtar " ( 1987 ) were bad .
instead , it literally drips off the screen like a movie nobody wanted to be associated with , which begs the question of why it was made in the first place .
with all the good scripts lying around hollywood un-produced , how does needless drek like this make its way to the big screen ?
of course , tarzan is one of the most filmed characters in all of motion picture history - he has appeared in over forty films , which have ranged from the very good ( 1984's " greystoke : the legend of tarzan , lord of the apes " ) down to the really bad ( 1981's " tarzan , the ape man " with bo derek ) .
most of these films were just cheapie b-movies made in the thirties and forties , starring ex-olympic athletes and a lot of cutsie chimps .
therefore , if another tarzan movie is to be made , one might assume that it would have something new to offer - a different angle , an original storyline , anything to set it apart from all the others .
" greystoke " added a never-before-seen level of realism to the pulpy tale , and even " tarzan , the ape man " at least had the mis-guided audacity to sexualize the story as a vehicle for bo derek's bare breasts .
" tarzan and the lost city , " on the other hand , has absolutely nothing to offer but a bunch of recycled storylines and bad dialogue .
the script , by bayard johnson and j . anderson black is about as formulaic and generic as they come .
comic books have better plots than this .
the movie is so bad , in fact , that it retains that ridiculous tarzan call that was so tirelessly mocked in last summer's comedy " george of the jungle . "
didn't the producers think to leave that back in the old weissmuller pictures where it belongs ?
the story starts with the legend of tarzan already firmly established : a quick opening narration tells of tarzan ( casper van dien ) being found in the jungle after having been raised by apes , and his return to england where he assumes his greystoke heritage .
when the movie starts in 1913 , he is a civilized english gentleman ( without an english accent ) , and he is to marry jane ( jane march ) in less than a week .
however , when a wicked archeologist/grave-robber named nigel ravens ( steve waddington ) begins hunting for the fabled lost city of opar , one of africa's last great secrets , the witch doctor of an ancient african tribe summons tarzan back to the jungle .
at first , jane refuses to go , pouting about how it will interfere with their wedding ; but after tarzan leaves she changes her mind and tracks him down , therefore assuring lots of lame smooch scenes between her and her ape-man .
once the film gets going ( in its own sluggish way ) , it delves into a series of jungle adventures , as tarzan , jane , and the natives attempt the thwart ravens and his crew from discovering the city .
most of the so-called adventures are cheesy , predictable , and unexciting , with no pace , tension , or action to speak of .
there are sequences stolen from innumerable recent adventure movies , ranging from " raiders of the lost ark " ( 1981 ) to " the goonies " ( 1985 ) .
when the movie is running short on action , it includes a few greenpeace-friendly scenes of tarzan freeing caged animals , releasing a baby elephant from a trap , and throwing ivory tusks into the river .
the movie is also lacking even a remote hint of reality .
for instance , when tarzan - who was raised in the jungle - is bit by a cobra , he doesn't even attempt to suck the venom out like any semi-experienced weekend backpacker would do .
instead , he ties a tourniquet around his arm and stumbles off into the jungle with no plan for survival .
of course , one can't help but notice how fundamentally misleading the title is .
not to ruin the ending or anything , but there is no lost city .
there is , however , a lost pyramid , which i suppose is all the resource-strapped fx department could come up with ( the special effects are not worthy of a made-for-tv movie ) .
which also brings up the question of why the treasure hunters had to slog through numerous underground caverns to get to the lost pyramid , when it's sitting right out in the middle of an open field ?
strictly speaking , " tarzan and the lost city " isn't even bad enough to have camp quality , although casper van dien's laughably stiff performance comes real close .
this movie proves what " starship troopers " only hinted at : he cannot act , but he sure looks well-groomed , even in the deepest heart of the african jungle .
van dien is much too much of a pretty-boy to be an effective tarzan ; he's a calvin klein model in a loin cloth .
i also wondered what the make-up department was thinking when it outfitted him with that awful circa-1983 steve perry haircut .
waddington makes a decent villain , although he's like a charmless version of belloq from " raiders of the lost ark . " as jane , the ex-model jane march has little to do but smile and look pretty next to tarzan .
she does fire off a gun at the evil treasure hunters a time or two , but whenever a snake comes into the picture , she is reduced to a hysterical mess .
however , amidst all this complaining , i do have one piece of good news .
" tarzan and the lost city " is so lacking in ideas both new and old , that it is unable to fill even an hour and a half of celluloid .
so , we can say this much for it : at least it had the decency to be short .
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