So, even though she's playing American, Charlize Theron is casted just because she's from South Africa. That's offensive... I guess, because in this modern day, if you're white, no one care if your offended, as I well know from experience of living in Alabama. Seriously people, we're not that bad, and I think that it's sick to dismiss almost an entire state, simply because of stereotypes; I mean, we're not Detroit. Anyways, the point is that the lovely Miss Theron is white enough for people to not care that she's being typecast, just because she's from Africa, and if Bill Paxton wants to get some controversy going, seeing as he's too perfect as the crazy "Where No Man Has Gone Before" adventurer that only a white guy would be crazy enough to be, well, man, I hate to tell you this, but... game over man, game over! Yup, all of that disjointed soapbox talk, just to get to a bad reference to "Aliens", but come on, I just had to figure out some way to take that opportunity. Anyone else love how I'm supposed to be talking about a delightful family film, only to give soapbox criticism about liberal America and anti-whites, just to get to a reference of a super-violent Sci-Fi-horror-action movie? Hey, at least it was unpredictable, as opposed to this film, which is about as forced-I mean as predictable as this transition-I mean as your typical Disney film.
Where the original was too blasted '30s for its own good - even though it came out in '49 -, this film is too blasted live-action Disney for its own good, following that kind of classic formula close to a tee, even down to plenty of not-so kiddie material that, when broken up by that overwhelming kiddie cheese, creates a light, yet tangible lapse in tonal consistency. Still, the gap in maturity level isn't terribly massive, because even when it's not overplaying things for the kids, this script is riddled with cheesy dialogue and conventions that serve as salt for the wounds opened by an absence of subtlety. I mean, I've been calling a good couple of recent things unsubtle, and plus, this is Disney, so I shouldn't be asking for a deeply provocative dramatic brilliance, but really, this is way too much. One character after another oozes the traditional atmosphere of his or her role, particularly the villains, who are your everyday threats to animalkind, yet so wildly over-the-top that this feels like propaganda at times. Still, I must admit, that main antagonist, Rade Serbedzija, was pretty effective as a villain, because with all of his bad acting, it's hard to not hate him. Like your typical Disney live-action film, the film is overly telegraphed and predictable, and yet, also like your typical Disney live-action film, it's undeniably enjoyable. This film stands to be better, yet it also stands to be worse, what with its being overly Disneyfied, and while you shouldn't go in expecting this to be an early look at something that delivers as much as 2005's certain remake of a classic giant ape film, expect to enjoy yourself or, at the very least, be impressed by the effects.
The Joe Young effect isn't simply impressive, it's stellar, maybe not to where the Uncanny Valley is totally crossed, because even though the ape isn't a digital trick, there's only so much you can do to make a big costume look authentic, yet you'd still be hard pressed to not be bordlerine, if not completely blown away by the relative seamlessness. In this version, there's a little bit more emphasis on the giganticism and a bit of the science behind the big furball, and the effects back it up every step of the way with as much authenticity as possible, as well as seamlessly clever scene staging to really sell you on the extravagance of the gentle giant, while the particularly detailed and impressive facial effects sharply sell the emotion and tenderness of the creature. Sure, they sugar coat the beast way too much this time around to where, on paper, it's hard to believe, yet in execution, the emotion and careful detail that goes into not only the Joe Young effect, but at times, the atmosphere, more often than not transcends that. Still, no matter how sweet Joe is, that doesn't mean that he can't bust some heads, maybe not literally, like his counterpart, Mr. King "The Dino-Jaw-Breaker" Kong, but there are still plenty of thrilling moments in this film, and they're all accompanied by James Horner fantastic score that I just have to mention, becuase it has such a particularly heavy influence on the intrigue and tone; plus, it's just great music. Further charm comes from Bill Paxton and Charlize Theron, even if the former is playing himself and the latter is playing that animal-hugger role that's been done to death, especially in Disney. Still, regardless of that, our leads, as well as other members of the cast - except for Rade "The Scene-Chewer" Serbedzija - play their parts well enough to make the film, if nothing else, throughly charming. I hate to close the paragraph like this, but for the 99.99% that don't get the wrestler/boxer nickname jokes, I'm furthering my joke that Mighty Joe Young sounds like a boxing name, and I make those insanely obscure jokes because I needed to wash the taste of unsubtlety out of my mouth.
To close, it falls into too many of the conventions of your typical Disney live-action film, from the cheesy writing to the highly conventional storyline - complete with overly telegraphed characters and sometimes sigh-evoking predictability -, yet with stellar special effects to compliment the impressive action that breaks up constant charm - supplemented by a mostly colorful cast and a mentionably fabulous score by James Horner -, the revival of "Mighty Joe Young" most often transcends its extreme Disneyfication and stands as a very watchable charmer.
2.5/5 - Fair