Went to see this film over the weekend and I must admit that this was something I was all too familiar with from childhood. However I was curious to see if the updated version would bring anything new to this fairy tale aside from the benefit of new CGI technology.
Before I get to my verdict let me say that the CGI here was very well done, and the overall presentation was great. I liked Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal of George Washington Williams, and the action sequences were enjoyable to watch. The problem here is not the execution but in the foundation upon which everything here is built.
For all the shiny newness here there’s nothing…new. This story line has been done so many times and in different mediums now that it’s old and dry. Not to mention that the narrative here is still no less offensive than it would have been if it had been presented in the 1890’s when it’s set to take place.
It’s 2016 and I still just as I did as a child wanted to see Tarzan swinging through the jungle with his ape buddies but that could not hide the fact that this was still the same old story about some random white guy who was miraculously raised by animals with full communicative powers and control in a land where the indigenous population had nowhere near his prowess despite having lived there for generations.
I am also hip to the fact that it is “fantasy”, but can’t really rock with the fantasy if it’s a subliminal slap to the face to the people and other characters are simply plot devices to move the protagonist along to the next set piece. Djimon Honsou although nicely clad is barely used here in any meaningful way.
I know many will see this as another SJW pointing out something lacking any real substance which may or may not offend some. Anyone with that view can’t deny that it’s all true. The rhetoric where this character coming to save the poor, oppressed and enslaved people is antiquated.
It wouldn’t be so bad if there were in fact more story lines where the reverse happened and some minority came through to single-handedly saved the day against insurmountable odds with skills that made absolutely no sense. We all know what Hollywood would say to that idea though.
To be honest though no matter what your hero looks like, I like many others out there are hungering for new material. That’s what’s been lacking for a while now and it’s seems to be why comic book movies are all the rage now. Studios have ran out of fresh material so they have gone to live action adaptations of comic books so they can have a ready built fan base to take advantage of.
The question is where are our new creators out there? Can you stand up and give us something new and not limit your efforts to complaining about what’s presented to us? I am hoping there’s a new crowd of narrative voices out there that will join mine so we can stop rehashing old news. I hope we can all go on creative journeys together. I’m ready to make that leap if you are.