A legendary fifteen-foot tall mountain gorilla named Joe is taken to an animal sanctuary in California by a zoologist and a young woman whom he grew up with. A poacher from the past returns to seek vengeance on him.
The baby gorilla left in her care grows up to become a hugely tall and broad specimen by the name of Joe, living in the mountains as a mostly unseen legend among people who live there. Along comes an eco-minded emissary from a California sanctuary, who talks the jungle girl into providing safe haven for Joe at the L.A. facility. The transition is not without discomfort, but everything is aggravated via a conspiracy of poachers to get Joe into their own greedy hands! Written by
Anthony Pereyra <email@example.com>
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[At Strasser's estate in Africa, watching a news report on Joe, recently moved to a conservatory in California]
My God... Pindi was right.
[Garth enters the room]
He's beautiful. The most beautiful animal I ever seen.
And the most valuable, that's for sure.
[sits down, watches as Jill appears on screen]
Isn't that the...?
Wait! Be quiet!
[Both men's expressions are of recognition as Jill is identified as the daughter of the primatologist they had killed twelve years earlier]
Bloody hell! That's him...
[...] See more »
Much better than it should be, a timeless story of a girl and her gorilla.
I can recall, though not very clearly, seeing the original 1949 version of "Mighty Joe Young" in the theater when I was a boy. The 1998 remake to me is better in every way. The special effects which place the giant gorilla among people, or chasing trucks, is very realistic, as is the sound track.
The story starts in the jungle where gorilla hunter "Strasser" shoots and kills the baby gorilla's mom, and Jill Young's (Carlize Theron) mom is also killed. Jill and the young gorilla become friends and they grow up in virtual anonymity. In a stroke of good casting for a very small part, Linda Purl, who plays the mother, looks a lot like Theron.
Many years later, when Paxton's character shows up, hunting wild species for blood samples, the capture of a big cat enrages "Joe" and he jumps out of the trees. That is a remarkable point in the film because, with a good sound system with subwoofer, the room literally shakes. And it continues as they case Joe in trucks.
Jill is persuaded that Joe will be safer when transported to Los Angeles with his own habitat, and she agrees. The evil Strasser shows up, enrages Joe, who breaks out and runs. In the sweet climax, he climbs a tall ferris wheel to rescue a small child, survives, and eventually is put in a proper place for his safety.
Most of the charm of this film is during the first half, in the jungle, with Joe and Jill growing up, then the discovery of the adult Joe. In a small part as the hunting organizer Paxton hires, Nuveen Andrews is just terrific, his delivery, his body language. And, of course, Charlize Theron, who reminds me so much of my daughter, Karen, is just perfect as Joe's caretaker and friend.
I rate this version of "Mighty Joe Young" a solid "8" of 10.
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