[Screen It]


(1998) (Casper Van Dien, Jane March) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Mild Heavy *Mild Heavy
Minor None Mild None Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor Minor None Minor *Extreme

Action/Adventure: Tarzan returns to the jungles of Africa to prevent a band of mercenaries from discovering and then plundering a lost city.
It's 1913 and John Clayton, a.k.a. Tarzan (CASPER VAN DIEN), is in England where he is now the "civilized" Lord of Greystoke. Prepared to marry his fiancÚ, Jane (JANE MARCH), Tarzan gets a troubling vision that his homeland is in grave danger. It seems that a college-bred explorer, Nigel Ravens (STEVEN WADDINGTON), and his band of mercenaries are set upon finding and then looting the lost and mythical city of Opar. Despite his pending wedding, Tarzan returns to Africa and immediately begins his attempts to stop Ravens. When Jane unexpectedly shows up, however, he must protect her while helping his tribal friends fend off Ravens and his men.
If they're fans of Tarzan movies overall, or of someone in the cast, it's possible. Even so, it's questionable just how many kids will want to see this production that isn't that enticing to younger children and may not interest older kids.
The reason was not available, but we'd guess it was for violence.
  • CASPER VAN DIEN plays Tarzan, lord of the apes, who returns to his homeland to fend off a band of mercenaries and looters.
  • JANE MARCH plays Jane, a confidant woman who carries a pistol and isn't afraid to use it.
  • STEVEN WADDINGTON plays the head mercenary who wants to discover a lost city to make himself famous, and then loot it to make himself rich.


    OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
    Eighty some years ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a novel about a young boy raised by apes who would grow up to be known as Tarzan. Appearing in a near countless procession of movies and TV shows, the lord of the apes became known worldwide and delighted audiences who got to see exotic flora and fauna from a part of the world to which they would never dare travel. Now, however, few parts of the world have been left unexplored and nature and wildlife shows take audiences deep into the jungles of many continents, including Africa. Thus, while he may have been popular years ago, Tarzan just doesn't have that drawing power that he used to possess.

    While the "recent" Tarzan movie, 1984's "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes" revived some interest in the decades old story, that was because everything about it was done in a fresh, new way, and the story brought the ape man back to his ancestral home of London where he was most definitely a fish out of water character. Featuring a great performance from Christopher Lambert, the movie was a hit with moviegoers and momentarily recaptured the campy magic and adventure from those old films featuring Johnny Weissmuller and others.

    It's doubtful the same will hold true for "Tarzan And The Lost City," an uneventful and certainly uninspired addition to the Tarzan series. Starting with Tarzan as the civilized man in London, we're quickly transported back to the "dark continent" for some monkey, err, jungle business, and without much more than a few opening lines on the screen to fill in plot details for the uninitiated. Of course the filmmakers are assuming that everyone knows the back story and are ready for another fabulous adventure, but unfortunately those last words don't pertain to this film.

    While this won't be one of the worst movies you'll see this year, director Carl Schenkel ("Knight Moves," "The Mighty Quinn") and writers Bayard Johnson ("The Second Jungle Book") and J. Anderson Black (making his/her film debut) have delivered a boring picture that sheds nothing new on the old story. While the scenery (shot in South Africa) is occasionally pleasant to the eye, and Tarzan's yelling and swinging on vines are present, the filmmakers have jettisoned the fun and mystery found in the original films.

    Part of the problem lies with Tarzan himself or, more precisely, Casper Van Dien (the lead in "Starship Troopers"). Although he has the chiseled face and washboard abs and certainly looks the jungle man part with his long hair extensions, his never changing stern expression grows thin rather quickly. While we acknowledge that his is a troubled character, torn between two worlds and partially incapable of complete human emotions, this is a completely wooden portrayal of the ape man. Thus, we never really care about his character or the predicament he's in.

    That comes in the form of the villains, capably but not excitedly led by Steven Waddington ("The Last Of The Mohicans") who's joined by an assembly of stereotypical, indiscernible, and barely developed thugs. Filling out the ranks of the leads is Jane March ("The Color Of Night") as Jane, and at least she puts a little life and spunk into the movie for a while. Although her initial reactions to being in the jungle for the first time aren't entirely believable -- despite her being a confidant young lady of London it's doubtful she'd react the way she does to this mysterious land -- it's not long before she's screaming at snakes and having to be rescued.

    The plot is bare bones at best and simply deals with some mercenaries trying to find a lost city while Tarzan and his tribal buddies try to stop them. Except for the youngest of viewers, the plot offers little suspense and tries to make up for that with some tribal "magic," but those moments are just as trite. Along the way there are some men in obvious gorilla costumes, a very fake looking swarm of bees, and a decided lack of mosquitos and other biting insects that one would expect should heavily populate such a wet, jungle area. Of course we'd hate to watch a movie where the characters are constantly swatting at biting critters, but then again it probably wouldn't be much worse than sitting through this flick.

    Without the style of "Greystoke" or any of the fun found in the last year's Tarzan inspired "George Of The Jungle," this film is a complete dud and thus it's no surprise that Warner opted not to allow anyone to see it before it opened. This is one of those low budget, soon to be forgotten releases that surprisingly somehow made it to the big screen, but should be swinging out of theaters and into your local video store very soon. We give "Tarzan And The Lost City" a 2 out of 10.

    Lots of non-gratuitous violence and plenty of scenes that may be suspenseful to very young viewers highlight the "worst" that this film has to offer. Many people are shot with bullets and/or arrows, and while there's just a little bit of blood, most of the violence is of the same caliber as what you'd find in a typical old western movie seen on TV. A few moments may be tense to the youngest of viewers, but much of the material will probably seem rather lame to most older kids. Beyond the obvious bad attitudes that the mercenaries have, most of the other categories have little or no major objectionable material.

  • Tarzan and some other men drink what appears to be ale.
  • We see some of Ravens' men drinking out on the street and they appear to be somewhat drunk.
  • Some people drink at a bar.
  • Jane comments to Tarzan about her brother, "He taught me how to drink Scotch and smoke cigars."
  • A man's shoulder is just a tiny bit bloody after one of Jane's gunshots grazes him.
  • It appeared that Tarzan's arm was just a bit bloody from where a cobra bit him.
  • A wounded man's shirt sleeve is soaked with blood.
  • Obviously Ravens and his men have both as they loot and pillage African villages (and burn huts in one scene) and plan on finding and plundering a lost city (and want and try to kill Tarzan).
  • The following (and material listed under "Violence") may be tense or unsettling to the youngest of kids (preschoolers), but most older kids probably won't have problems with it.
  • Ravens and his men confront some villagers, point their guns at them, and then burn down their huts at night.
  • Ravens' men prepare to shoot a gorilla as they slowly walk through a dense jungle.
  • Jane falls into a lagoon and, seeing that she doesn't surface right away, Tarzan dives in after her (everything is okay).
  • Jane screams as she comes face to face with a large snake. Later she has another close call with a cobra, and it bites Tarzan as he tries to protect her. He obviously gets sick, but a visit by a medicine man makes everything okay again.
  • In a long sequence, Ravens' men come after Jane and she fires several shots at them as they chase her through the jungle and across a prairie.
  • Jane rises out of some water and discovers that she has large leeches on her.
  • The tribesmen attack Ravens and his men and there's a gun vs. bow and arrow fight.
  • In some dark caverns, we see a few skulls and other skeletal remains. Later, some tribal magic causes skeletons to quickly form and then change into flesh and blood warriors. When they're killed, however, they quickly turn back into skeletons before completely disappearing.
  • Ravens and his men fall down a trap door opening and slide down a tunnel (and yell and scream while doing so).
  • Ravens ties Jane to a rock with a stick of dynamite and then lights the fuse. Tarzan saves her, and they throw the stick around a few times before it explodes.
  • An apparition of a tribal leader suddenly has fangs and a forked tongue and then morphs into a large cobra in front of Ravens and his men.
  • A bad guy screams in pain as he dissolves away into a skeleton after sitting in a sacred throne.
  • Pistols/Rifles/Machine Gun/Spears/Bow & arrows/Knives/Dynamite: Used to threaten, wound, or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Bloody," "Shut up" and "Idiots."
  • None.
  • There is a mild amount of suspenseful music in several scenes.
  • None.
  • While a projector malfunction left us without sound for several minutes, I doubt many, if any, profanities were spoken during that time (considering how few of them preceded and followed the "silent" movie).
  • 1 possible damn and 1 use of "For God's sakes" as exclamations.
  • We see a few glimpses of the sides and parts of the tribesmen's bare butts in the traditional outfits they wear.
  • The captain of a steamboat has an unlit pipe in his mouth, while a background character smokes a pipe in a bar.
  • Jane comments to Tarzan about her brother, "He taught me how to drink Scotch and smoke cigars."
  • None.
  • The (mostly) old days of plundering archaeological sites.
  • Snake bites and what to do about them (here they try using a tourniquet after a cobra bites Tarzan).
  • While there is a great deal of violence in this film (in quantity), little of it's bloody and it certainly isn't much more gratuitous than similar stuff seen in old Westerns on TV.
  • Ravens and his men fire their guns into the air and then aim them at one villager who tries to stop them. Moments later they torch the villagers' huts and burn down the whole village.
  • Ravens holds a gun on Tarzan who flips around, kicks Ravens, and grabs the gun.
  • One of Ravens' men fires his gun at a gorilla. Other gorillas then land on these men, Tarzan shows up and breaks a man's rifle in half, while another man pulls out a knife.
  • Tarzan grabs a man who pointed his gun at him and apparently knocks him out. He then throws a large elephant's tusk that hits another man and knocks him in the water.
  • Some men shoot at Tarzan after he lets many animals loose.
  • One of Ravens' men kicks in a door as they try to get Tarzan and Jane.
  • Jane shoots a chain on an animal cage with her pistol.
  • Ravens' men shoot a machine gun into a steamboat and do so enough times that it finally blows up and burns. We later learn that the captain and his mate were injured/killed, but it's not clear whether Ravens' men were responsible.
  • A tribesman briefly touches Jane's hair (out of curiosity) and she turns around and backhands him, causing him to fall backwards and knock over others.
  • Jane shoots at a lioness that frightens her, and then repeatedly shoots at Ravens' men (one of which is grazed on the shoulder) who come after her.
  • A cobra bites Tarzan, and we later see that he tore off the snake's head.
  • Jane backhands Ravens when he offers to share their plundered riches with her. We then see Jane's point of view as he reels back and punches her in the face (presumably knocking her out).
  • The tribe attacks Ravens and his men and a gun vs. bow and arrow battle breaks out. Arrows hit several people, while tribesmen are shot and then mowed down with a machine gun (in a non- graphic fashion).
  • A man fires a shot at some planted dynamite, causing it -- and the statue beside it -- to be blown up.
  • Tarzan shoots and hits a man with an arrow and Ravens' men fire guns back at him.
  • Ravens ties Jane to a rock with a stick of dynamite and then lights the fuse. Tarzan saves her, and the stick is thrown around a few times before exploding (and the resulting falling rocks land on some of the men).
  • An apparition of a tribal leader rises out of a cavern pond and the bad guys shoot at it. Tarzan then grabs and smashes two of the men into each other, knocking them out.
  • Ravens' men shoot guns and throw dynamite toward the top of a pyramid. The dynamite falls back down and blows a man across the platform. Ravens and his men shoot at several apparitions, some of which quickly turn into skeletons and then disappear.
  • Tarzan throws a man from a pyramid and then throws a knife into another (we only hear the impact). Another man falls backwards down the steps of the pyramid.
  • Tarzan and a bad guy get into a hand to hand combat fight where the bad guy also tries to hit Tarzan with axes and spears. Tarzan finally wounds this man, but this guy then grabs Tarzan and smashes him into a wall.
  • A bad guy screams in pain as he dissolves away into a skeleton after sitting in a sacred throne.

  • Reviewed April 24, 1998

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