AlexanderSkarsgard2When you have a physique like Alexander Skarsgard, you’re destined to spend a career cast as vampires, jungle men, beach bums and sexy drifters. (Pity the gorgeous among us! How hard it is to be Matthew, Brad or Alex!) But I’m not complaining. All three have something else in common beyond abdominal muscles on which you can grate aged Reggiano: Some legit acting chops.

Skarsgard is probably the least acclaimed for his be-shirted performances, but he spends a good portion of the new man-meat actioner The Legend of Tarzan fully clad, if in gauzy tunics and well-tailored trousers. Indeed, when we first meet the man of the apes, he’s been fully domesticated by London society as Lord Greystoke. It’s only when a conniving slave trader (Christoph Waltz, in his patented smugly sinister smartypants mode) lures him and wife Jane (Margot Robbie) back to Africa that he gets to woof and growl … and, eventually, swing from the trees like Spider-Man by way of the Hulk.

The Tarzan stories have long been the hardest of superhuman heroes to adapt for modern audiences, but director David Yates has some experience at making it not seem impossibly silly: He helmed the last four Harry Potter movies. The magic here comes in distracting you from all the pulpy kitsch.

A.W.J. extra: Read an interview with Alexander Skarsgard.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2016.