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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of The Legend of Tarzan & The Purge: Election Year

Dearest Blog: yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for a tale of the jungle and a tale of the concrete jungle: The Legend of Tarzan and The Purge: Election Year. 
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers. First on my agenda: The Legend of Tarzan. An English Lord raised in the jungle is forced to return there. 
Tarzan is one of those stories I've always found exceedingly cheesy, even in its best incarnations. The latest big-screen adaptation is no different, but there's good fun to be had with its hilarious awfulness.
Wise moves on the part of Tarzan's filmmakers to: a.) not give Alexander Skarsgard too many lines, despite his being the titular legend; and b.) have Skarsgard spend most of the movie half-dressed. If The Legend of Tarzan is the poster child of summer popcorn movies, Skarsgard's stunning physique must be the (eye) candy that goes along with it. His accent is terrible and his performance worse than wooden, but...wait...what was I saying? 
Co-star Margot Robbie is equally fetching, with an equally-sketchy accent. Robbie is handicapped by having to deliver some of the worst lines in a picture that's riddled with embarrassingly-bad dialogue, but she still fares better than double-Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, slumming it as a villain so broadly-drawn he might as well walk around twirling the ends of his moustache, and Samuel L. Jackson, shoehorned in as sidekick/comic relief. 
I had a 3D showtime forced on me by the schedule (thanks for nothing, schedule!), and, with no basis for comparison, I'd guess 3D exacerbates the bad CGI. There's some pretty scenery, but overall things look pretty fake. 
Top it all off with uniformly-unfunny cracks at humor and an old-school melodramatic score, and you've got a pretty underwhelming summer blockbuster. The Legend of Tarzan clocks in at 109 minutes and is rated PG13 for "sequences of action and violence, some sensuality, and brief rude dialogue." 
Legendary it is not, but, if you aren't too particular about where you spend your movie dollars, it's good for a laugh. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Legend of Tarzan gets four. 
Next up: The Purge: Election Year. Having narrowly avoided taking regrettable actions an an earlier Purge, Leo Barnes works security for a US Senator determined to end the annual crime spree. 
Dear reader(s): I'm pleased to report another Purge sequel lives up to a promise the original didn't half make. 
Frank Grillo is commanding in the lead, a role tailor-made for his tough demeanor and rugged good looks. The abundance of screen time for Grillo is more than welcome after his being so criminally underused in the latest Captain America outing, too! 
Election Year is intense, leaving viewers holding their breath and crossing their fingers as the "good guys" try to survive the night. The movie lightens its grim topic with a graveyard humor that mostly hits the mark, and it is beautifully filmed, making stunning visuals of brutal violence and terrifying masks and costumes. That's the good news. 
The bad news: Elizabeth Mitchell is ridiculous as the do-good Senator and Presidential candidate, and the Mom jeans and oversized glasses don't remotely provide her any gravitas. 
As a wise comedian once said: "I didn't go to Harvard; I went to Lens Crafters!" Election Year is a movie fashioned with a hammer rather than a chisel, and characters of color fare worst in the Stereotype Sweepstakes, despite the movie's sincere attempt to comment on race and station in the ol' US of A. It's easy to see why today's America better relates to the "us and them" themes of Election Year than to the chest-thumping patriotism of last week's notable box office flop, Independence Day: Resurgence. 
The Purge: Election Year runs 105 minutes and is rated R for "disturbing bloody violence and strong language." Its social commentary is clumsy, but The Purge: Election Year is a tense thriller that's perfectly suited to today's cynical audiences. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Purge: Election Year gets seven and a half. 
Fangirl points: Kyle Secor a.k.a. Homicide's Detective Tim Bayliss! 
Until next time... 

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