26 September 2023

Mighty Joe Young

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Reviewed by Victor Rebikoff.

Director: Ron Underwood, Walt Disney Pictures, PG, 114 Minutes.

Based on the 1949 classic of the same name director Ron Underwood (‘Tremors’) has brought back to the big screen the heart-warming story of ‘Mighty Joe Young’ a large mountain gorilla and his enduring bond with naturalist Jill Young.

The movie opens with poachers attacking a few gorillas whilst animal preservationists retaliate resulting in a woman and mother gorilla being killed prior to the baby gorilla biting the fingers off the hand of head poacher Strasser (Rade Serbedziia – ‘Stigmata’).

The movie is then fast forwarded to the future where Jill Young (Charlize Theron – ‘Monster’) the grown up daughter of the dead woman continues to care for her childhood pet gorilla having grown to some fifteen feet tall.

Ever conscious of the constant danger posed by poachers Jill accepts the proposition from zoologist Gregg O’Hara (Bill Paxton – ‘Twister’) to relocate Joe to the animal sanctuary unaware that Strasser – the former poacher – has returned seeking revenge against the gorilla.

Shortly thereafter Strasser devises a plan to persuade Jill in returning Joe to his wildlife refuge in Africa but is thwarted when his henchmen provoke the gorilla into thrashing a gala event; it is during this incident that Joe recollects Strasser’s involvement in killing his mother as a baby inciting an immediate attack on him only to be sedated and placed inside a bunker.

Consequently Jill agrees to take Joe back to his African habitat but during the trip to the airport notices Strasser’s missing fingers and realises he is the person responsible for her mother’s death.

Determined to stop Strasser from wreaking his vengeance against the gorilla Jill crashes the truck allowing Joe to escape to a nearby carnival where he prevents Strasser from shooting her before bringing about his demise; then in a poignant scene reminiscent of King Kong falling from the Empire State Building Joe is seen falling from a collapsing Ferris wheel to save a child following which he finally returns to his beloved African homeland.

There is much to enjoy in Underwood’s appealing action adventure about a long-lasting friendship between a young woman and a gorilla after the loss of their respective mothers beginning in their early years in Africa.

Theron again demonstrates her star quality through her portrayal as a conservationist while the special effects are superb in animating Joe as a life-like gorilla providing great entertainment in the many scenes that he appears in with Jill.

Mighty Joe Young will be shown on Channel 7flix at 8.30PM on FRIDAY 29 May.

Vic’s Verdict: 3 ½ Stars

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