Review: Tarzan and the Lost City

tatlc_cov.jpgYear: 1998
Director: Carl Schenkel
Starring: Casper Van Dien, Jane March, Steven Waddington

Tarzan tries to stop raiders from pillaging the lost city of Opaa.

Like our previously reviewed Starship Troopers 2, I had never heard of Tarzan and the Lost City when I found it one night in the unwanted videos pile at my local Hollywood Video, on sale for one dollar. Also like Starship Troopers 2, there was good reason I had never heard of the movie, and good reason it was in the one-dollar bin. Tarzan and the Lost City, if you can stay awake for it, is instantly forgettable.

Much like a Bond movie, a Tarzan movie is going to succeed or fail on the lead role. Casper Van Dien, who plays Tarzan, tatlc1.jpgis handsome and well built, with a winning smile. You’d think he’d make a perfect Tarzan. But he lacks any primitive, elemental ferocity. What you end up with appears to be a college athlete running around in the jungle. It just doesn’t feel like Tarzan.

In that same vein, the entire movie never captures any of the raw power and majesty of natural Africa. This is a remarkable achievement in incompetence, considering that Tarzan and the Lost City is the first Tarzan film shot entirely in Africa. Everything feels as if it’s done on a Hollywood set. About halfway through the 84-minute movie, I was certain that the movie must have been a low-budget, made-for-TV film. It has much the same feel to it as Hercules and the Amazon Women.

Were these the only problems with the film, it would still have a chance. However, Tarzan and the Lost City is a lifeless, sloppy movie. Action scenes lack any velocity. Acting lacks conviction. The plot is a straight line from point A to point B. Pace is fair, but the movie never generates any speed. The ending sputters, as Tarzan plays a secondary role to African magic and a nasty booby trap. Visual effects tatlc4.jpgare cheesy, even for a movie nine years old.

The plot is also filled with so many holes, and no sort of a premise is ever established. It’s a mess. Some examples…

Jane, Tarzan’s fiancé, follows Tarzan to Africa. They get together, but when trouble starts brewing, Jane realizes that she is getting in Tarzan’s way, and offers to leave. However, the Bad Guys have sunk the one riverboat that would allow her an exit. Tarzan and Jane learn of this when they are in a tribal village of Tarzan’s friends. Logically, you’d expect Tarzan to leave Jane in the village for safety, but of course this doesn’t happen. Doing so would take Jane out of the movie! Instead, Tarzan brilliantly decides to take Jane with him on a deadly journey across the wilds of Africa to overtake the Bad Guys.

There are plenty more examples. tatlc2.jpgAn entire line of Bad Guys accidentally slide down a cave tunnel trap, one right after the other, like lemmings. … Nigel Ravens, the Head Bad Guy, alternates between compulsively trying to kill Tarzan and focusing exclusively on finding the lost city. … Tarzan falls into a pool of water right behind a dozen Bad Guys, but no one hears him land. … A box of dynamite falls in a pool of water without getting wet. … Jane amazingly keeps up with Tarzan as they march through the jungle. … Even stupider is the scene in which Ravens decides to blow up Jane, but I won’t ruin all the fun for you, and it would take about two paragraphs to list everything that happens in this inexplicably goofy scene.

jane_march.jpgAll is not lost, however. There are a few things to like about the movie. As mentioned, the handsome Von Dien helps with the eye candy. … Jane March is also quite cute as Jane. They don’t do much with her, and she seems lost in her role, but yes, she is cute. … Let’s see, what else? Oh, yes. You get to see some wild animals, which the kiddies will like.

In a way, the movie does somehow overcome its weaknesses to exude a sort of goofy, pleasant charm, much like an sloppy uncle who visits your home, eats all your chips and chocolate, but tells an occasional funny story. This movie is poor enough in spots that it becomes entertaining, and has enough mildly interesting scenes scattered around to avoid degenerating into an annoying catastrophe.

In conclusion, Tarzan and the Lost City is watchable if you are a fan of cheesy movies, or if you want to show your kids a family-oriented Tarzan movie. Just come with low expectations, and be sure to caffeinate yourself heavily before viewing. Assuming you want to stay awake, that is.

Pace: 50
Plot: 36
Action: 30
Consistent Premise: 50
Script/Quotes: 35
Characters: 54
Acting: 37
Villain: 40
Body Count: 21
Time to First Dead Body: 57 minutes, 20 seconds
Babes: 57
Hunks: 79
Explosions: 15
Special Effects: 23
Stunts: 27
Ending: 32

Overall: 36 (Needs Caffeine)

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