For those unfamiliar with the story, Disney's adaptation (based on Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs) follows the titular hero from boyhood to adult. After his parents are killed by a leopard, Tarzan (Played by Alex D. Linz as a young boy) is taken in as a baby by the gorilla Kala (Glenn Close) who coincidentally lost her baby to the same leopard. But when the adult Tarzan (Tony Goldwyn) stumbles across members of his own kind in the form of Jane (Minnie Driver), her father (Nigel Hawthorne) and their guide Clayton (Brian Blessed), he struggles with the challenges of not only fitting in but also figuring out where he belongs. It's this central struggle that forms a huge amount of heart around the overall package. Just as the jungle swinging action is frenetic and engaging, so are the more poignant moments emotional and come with the right impact. It's a quickly paced film, flashing between the two and a mix of mild comic relief to keep the audience engaged at all times. The only problem, which will ring more true for adults than children, is that the villain is super obvious from the moment he's introduced, but even he gets some laughs to keep him from becoming completely stale. Tarzan's plot is a healthy mix of emotion, action and comedy, sure to entertain audiences time and time again, no matter the age bracket.
With a varied and infectious plot, the characters rise to match its success. Both Linz and Goldwyn do a brilliant job of conveying the confusion and fascination present in Tarzan's mind which gets the audience to care about his struggle right from the offset. Jane fits the classic archetype of Disney's damsel in distress but her character is set apart from the other Disney heroines with her endearing clumsiness and a hint of Victorian authenticity, making her instantly likeable. Kala and her mate Kerchak (Lance Henrikson) are also very strong with the latter bringing an intense level of intimidation to match the disdain the alpha male gorilla shows towards Tarzan. The comic relief characters including Rosie O'Donnell as Tarzan's gorilla cousin Terk and Wayne Knight as the paranoid elephant Tantor are fairly amusing, but they never interrupt the emotional proceedings that are sprinkled throughout the main plot. When the main cast is so strong, it's a shame that Brian Blessed's performance as Clayton feels quite basic by comparison; there isn't really that much depth to his character and he doesn't develop much over the course of the film, but when the rest of the cast is so strong it's a mere drop in a lake of solid characterisation.
Tarzan was made at a time before fully 3D computer generated animation became the norm and it makes some of the best uses of the technology before it was eventually replaced in the 2000s. While it may seem dated nowadays because of its static painted look, the jungle environment is nonetheless lush, colourful and green which works hard to transport the viewer into the film's setting; the painted environments also coalesce nicely with the animated characters. But where Tarzan really makes an impression is through its cinematography; the set piece moments are all incredibly thrilling and tense and they take the hero far beyond just swinging on vines; the chase scene involving the baboons is brilliant to watch because of the way the camera spins and twists to brilliantly capture the wild nature of Tarzan's life in the jungle. And then there's the soundtrack featuring songs by Phil Collins; one of the most riveting orchestrations ever seen in an animated film (I'm serious; "Son of Man" and "Strangers like me" deserve to be right up there with Frozen's "Let it go"). It's fast and furious in the action sequences and it also finds time to calm down for the more emotional moments; it's simply the perfect complement to an already fantastic animated film.
Tarzan is heartfelt, breathless and exhilarating and it stakes its claim as one of the best animated films of the nineties; quite ironic considering how it was the last of the Disney Renaissance films (which lasted from 1989 to 1999). For adults it's easy to nit-pick some of the more light-hearted moments and blindingly obvious villain, but you'll be so enthralled by the film's brilliant animation and set-piece moments that you won't mind one bit.
And the death of Kerchak is one of the top heartbreaking scenes of disney movies , it is really touching and even now it makes the grown-ups cry like Mufasa's death.