(out of 5)
In this remake of the forties classic, Bill Paxton plays an L.A. Zoo animal researcher who travels to Africa and witnesses a wonder: a fifteen-foot gorilla named Joe. Soon after a hazardous meeting with the great ape, he also meets Joe’s best friend, a beautiful blonde woman (Charlize Theron) who grew up with the gorilla after they both lost their mothers to poachers twelve years earlier. Needing a safe home for her beloved friend, Theron agrees to take Joe to Los Angeles with Paxton in order to house him in a giant facility there, but trouble is sure to follow when the dirty poacher (Rade Serbedzija) who killed their mothers shows up at the same time. This thrilling family film is a raucous good time for the whole family, featuring eyepopping visual effects and amiable characters who go on a very fun adventure. The production values are all top-notch, even though the performances lack a lot of credibility (Theron hasn’t been this awkward since). Through a combination of five or six different effects methods, the massive Joe comes across with believable strength and a lovable personality (think King Kong crossed with a Robert Munch book).
Directed by Ron Underwood
Music by James Horner
Production Design by Michael Corenblith
Costume Design by Molly Maginnis
Film Editing by Paul Hirsch