This latest incarnation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs created character begins with a giant meteor hurtling towards earth where it crashes in Africa 70 million years ago. In the present, John Greystoke, owner of Greystoke Energies, is searching for this meteor. There's a legend that is contains vast amounts of power--and could be a new source of energy for the world. In addition to his crew, he's brought his wife and three-year-old son, JJ, with him. They are camped out in a cabin at the edge of the jungle. The boy carries around a stuffed gorilla and says that his own name is "Tarzan", which means "ape without fur".
Meanwhile, the story shifts to a group of mountain gorillas, where Kala's mate, a big Silverback, is challenged by another silverback. He loses the battle and is brutally killed with a rock. This leaves Kala alone with her infant. Things get worse for her when her baby accidently falls over the edge of a cliff...
Greystoke does find the meteor--and it's a mountain with a plateau. He lands his helicopter on it, with his son and wife. He tells them to wait while he explores a cave---and this is when an earthquake starts and the nearby volcano explodes. Then, a violent storm starts to form over the meteor. They take off in the helicopter but it crashes into the side of a mountain.
The next day Kala comes across the wreckage and finds the boy, who has survived. She adopts him as her own. He wakes up in the trees and has his first encounter wit the evil leader. Then, we skip ahead some years to a teenaged ape-man. While exploring the jungle he sees a group of humans his own age, driving in a jeep. Among them is Jane Porter. The group is attacked by some strange, tusked birds. Jane runs and before she can be injured Tarzan saves her. However, she's bitten by a poisonous snake. She passes out--he takes out the poison and takes her to a shelter.
They have an immediate connection--but he ends up taking her back to her father. On the way back to the apes he comes across the wreckage of the helicopter--and finds a photo of himself with his mother and father. Jane returns to civilization and Tarzan builds himself a treehouse and collects the wreckage from the plane. Amongst the items is a beacon, which later gets activated when the leader of the tribe ransacks his home.
Five years go by. Jane is working to preserve the environment in Africa--and meets William Clayton, who now runs Greystoke Engergies. When the beacon is turned out he decides to make the trip to Africa and search for the meteor. She accompanies him. Of course, she and Tarzan are reunited, Clayton reveals that he's an evil, greedy bastard and the movie culminates atop the giant alien meteor. Along the way Tarzan saves Jane from being eaten by a crocodile and there's a very cool scene where they enter a jungle that is filled with alien life-forms.
I went in to the movie simply out of morbid curiosity, wondering how awful this version was going to be. Boy, was I surprised. Other than the 70's Filmation TARZAN: LORD OF THE JUNGLE animated series and the live-action TARZAN: THE EPIC JOURNEYS, this is one of the most faithful adaptations of Tarzan I've seen. Granted, I thought it a bit lame that all the deaths that happen are accidental and off screen (helicopter crashing, falling over a cliff, et cetera) and Tarzan never kills anything, but the film successfully captures the spirit. I wish I had the opportunity to have seen this in 3-D as the scenery looks like something out of AVATAR. Highly recommended.