After watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote to Walt Disney about adapting his novel of an ape-man into a feature animated cartoon. Some 60 years later, the tale is finally told with brilliant design work that looks unlike any previous animated film. The story is a natural for Disney since the themes of misunderstood central figures have been at the heart of its recent hits. Disney's Tarzan
doesn't wander far from the familiar story of a shipwrecked baby who is brought up by apes in Africa. What gives the film its zing is its clever use of music (the songs are sung by Phil Collins himself rather than onscreen characters) and the remarkable animation. Deep Canvas, a 3-D technology, was developed for the film, creating a jungle that comes alive as Tarzan swings through the trees, often looking like a modern skateboarder racing down giant tree limbs. The usual foray of sidekicks, including a rambunctious ape voiced by Rosie O'Donnell, should keep the little ones aptly entertained. The two lead voices, Tony Goldwyn as Tarzan and Minnie Driver as Jane, are inspired choices. Their chemistry helps the story through the weakest points (the last third) and makes Tarzan's initial connection with all things human (including Jane) delicious entertainment. Disney still is not taking risks in its animated films, but as cookie-cutter entertainment, Tarzan
makes a pretty good treat. --Doug Thomas
Disney Studios turn their attention to Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic tale with this lively animated adaptation. Tarzan (voiced by Tony Goldwyn) is a human who was taken in and raised by gorilla Kala (Glenn Close) when his parents were killed by Sabor the leopard. Now a grown male, Tarzan has never been fully accepted by Kala's husband Kerchak (Lance Henriksen), the head of the tribe, but has female gorilla Terk and elephant Trantor for friends. When explorer Professor Porter (Nigel Hawthorne) arrives in the jungle with his daughter Jane (Minnie Driver) and adventurer Clayton (Brian Blessed), Tarzan discovers his human heritage for the first time, gradually learning how to speak and spending time at the visitors' encampment. However, although Porter merely wishes to study the gorillas, Clayton secretly plans to capture them and take them back to England, and tries to trick Tarzan into leading him to the tribe.