Saturday, February 6, 2010

Movie Review: Congo

Rated PG-13
2 Slimes
Copyright Paramount Pictures 1995


Dr. Karen Ross: Laura Linney! A scientist working for TraviCom who travels to the Congo to search for Charles. Be careful around her when she has laser.

Dr. Peter Elliot: A scientist who hopes to bring Amy back to her natural habit. He’s just an unremarkable character and brings little to the table.

Captain Munro Kelly: Ernie Hudson! A mercenary and expert on the Congo region that helps Karen’s team to find their diamonds. He’s probably the coolest character in the whole movie and seems to take everything in stride.

Amy the Gorilla: A gorilla that knows sign language that speaks with a voice box. During a portion of the film, she actually guides the crew through the Congo! Seems a bit iffy to let a gorilla do that. She is left to live in the Congo and is probably killed by the erupting volcano off screen. Nice work there Peter.

Herkermer Homolka: Tim Curry! Do Romanians really talk like that? He is on the search for the legendary city of Zinj, where it supposedly holds hundreds of rare blue diamonds. When he does reach the mines, a gorilla crushes his skull with a rock.

R.B. Travis: Joe Don Baker! The heartless and money-grubbing CEO of TraviCom. Doesn’t care that an expedition team is completely wiped out by a bunch of angry gorillas.

Kahega: A Congo guide that assists Karen’s team that ends up being... devoured by the gray gorillas? Hard to say, but I really do think he was eaten alive!

Charles Travis: Bruce Campbell! Dead less than 8 minutes into this film. Kind of a waste for such a big star.

+ Lasers are powered by diamonds.
+ The only thing that can kill Bruce Campbell is a gorilla.
+ Gorillas are gentle beings, except when they are white/gray and they are guarding a diamond mine.
+ Gorillas drink martinis and smoke cigars.
+ Gorillas roar like T-Rexes.
+ Gorillas are meat eaters.
+ Heat seeking missiles can be brought down with flare guns.
+ There is no chance for sleep in the middle of the Congo.
+ Leeches will get you anywhere, even when you aren’t in the water.
+ Diamonds look like giant pieces of salt.
+ Calling gorillas ugly will prevent them from attacking you.

3 min – Hey its Bruce Campbell…
7 min – and now he’s dead.
10 min – Whoa! He’s got Doom on his computer! Awesome!
16 min – Peter: Sorry, I just can’t take you seriously with that accent.
33 min – Well that was an odd meeting.
50 min – That’ll be a fun memory.
60 min – Watch out for the hungry, hungry hippos!
66 min – Aw, the guys in the gorilla suits hate her.
76 min – Focus! We could some focus here.
86 min – Looks like Mars to me.
87 min – Oh no! An ambush from fake gorilla looking things!
91 min – How for much do you think it would cost to buy that awesome laser?

Monroe: Quite frankly, the twentieth century sucks. Maybe the twenty-first will be better.

Monroe: I'm your great white hunter for this trip, though I happen to be black.

Dr. Peter Elliot: Oh, no! The bad apes have the crystal lasers!

Captain Wanta: Stop eating my sesame cake!


Congo is an oddball of a movie. It is an adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel of the same title, it features a bunch of people in gorilla costumes, there is a talking gorilla, Tim Curry is in it with a bad accent, and there is laser gun to boot. Like I said, an oddball but it is certianly an unique ride.

The movie opens up at Mt. Mukenko in the Congo where we see a group of adventurers and scientists led by Charles Travis. They are on the hunt for rare blue diamonds that can power the lasers of the company he works for, TraviCom. I thought the diamonds were for computers and stuff in the novel.  I guess we wouldn't have the laser gun in the future if the diamonds were for the computers, but I am getting ahead of myself.

One of the group members informs Charles about a discovery he found and two of them split from the group. He brings the leader to an ancient ruin where he believes they’ll find the diamonds. During which, both of them are attacked and killed by an unseen creature. Well that was a waste of having Bruce Campbell in a movie.

While all of this is happening, at TraviCom HQ in Houston, Dr. Karen Ross and her boss, R.B. Travis, are waiting for the team in Congo to contact them using their video camera. After waiting for a bit, the two of them turn on the manual camera so they can what is going on at the camp. They discover everyone had been brutally killed and as they look on in shock, a hairy monster destroys the camera!

Karen is horrified by what happened, but Travis only sees the whole situation as an inconvenience for getting his diamonds (Ah sir, about 10 people had been brutally killed and all you care about are the diamonds?  Can't wait to hear what the Board of Directors think of that). He has Karen round up another team with her in charge to go to the Congo to get the diamonds and see what happened. What, no time for grieving?  Also, he wants to keep this slaughter underwraps.  How can you possibly keep this underwraps?!  Don't those 10 people have families and friends that'll be wondering what happened to them after a while?

Now in Berkeley, California; we meet Dr. Peter Elliot and his gorilla, Amy. Amy can use sign language, which can be translated by a voice box attached to her back, so she can speak English… well that’s just silly! Peter thinks it is time to send her back to the jungle since she is constantly having nightmares and is paiting the jungle. So, this weird accent guy named Herkermer Homolka offers to sponsor a trip to the Congo to take Amy back home and Peter accepts. I find that hard to believe he would take the random guy up on his offer, especially since Peter never met him before and as soon as Peter wanted to take Amy home, Herkermer pops up out of nowhere.

Peter, Herkermer, and Amy head out to the Congo, with Karen coming along as well since she needs a ride to the area as well. They arrive in the Congo just as government uprising is going on, so now both of their groups have to merge together and work with their new Congo guide, Munro Kelly, an expert on the jungle, mercenary, and a gun smuggler. An interesting combination for the area.

The group then teams up with Kahega, another guide and friend of Kelly, to help them out on their expedition. The crew loads up and heads to the jungle in a plane. However, on the way, military officials start firing missiles at them for violating their air space, so everyone has to parachute out. Well that’s a fun way to start an expedition to the Congo.

So their expedition travels forth for a few miles and then they run into the Ghost Tribe in the forest. The trbies tell them that they have found a man from the first expedition TraviCom sent. The group heads to the tribe’s village and discovers the man unconscious. They manage to wake him up, but he sees Amy and screams in horror.  Then he keels over and dies of a heart attack. FORESHADOWING!

The team continues onward, now traveling down the river to where the first team was at. As they traveled, they attacked by a bunch of hippos that punctures a couple of their rafts, forcing them to travel the rest of the way by foot. Darn those hippos.

They continue on, reaching the valley where Amy was born. Since they don’t know where to exactly go, they let the gorilla lead them. Seems a bit risky if you ask me. She hasn’t been in the area for many years now, so how could you exactly rely on her to take you down the right path? Well I guess they do and it turns out to be the right move, since they end up at the camp and ruins the first group was at. Talk about random luck.

The ruins turn out to be the legendry city of Zinj, which is home to the blue diamonds that TraviCom and also what Herkermer has been searching for. The group heads inside the ruins, but are attacked by a gray gorilla that kills three of their men. They leave the place, but are forced to stay in the area as it is getting dark. They camp in the area and managed to hold over an attack force by another group of gray gorillas, but have to leave as soon as possible the following day.

The next morning, the group discovered that Herkermer and Amy are missing, so they have to find them before they can leave. They discover Herkermer in the ruins looking for the diamonds, but are trapped when an earthquake from a volcano nearby starts to shake. The group starts searching for an exit; but instead discover the diamond mines, the body of Charles, and the home to all of those dangerous gray gorillas. Wow, jackpot!

Herkermer starts taking as many diamonds as he wants, but if you remember Aladdin, it isn’t a good idea to touch anything. As soon as he does, all the gray gorillas come out to attack them! The gorillas kill Herkermer, Kahega, and the rest of the group besides Munro, Peter, and Karen. Peter is almost killed, but Amy, who came out of nowhere, rescues him by calling the gorillas ugly (Gorillas are the easilly offendable type) and then Karen kills a whole bunch of them with laser powered by diamonds in the mind. Am I supposed to take this seriously?

The group takes off as the diamond mine and city is destroyed when the volcano erupts, which also kills off the rest of gray gorillas. The surviving members head to a down airplane nearby and take an air balloon that was packed aboard it so they can escape. They leave Amy behind so she can live with the rest of the gorillas (The ones that don’t kill people) in the valley and they ride off in the balloon, heading for civilization.

Well that was the movie and what can I say? Well, it was very unremarkable to say the most. A lot of things were changed or left out when it was transferred from paper format to the big screen. The costumes for the gorillas looked pretty fake; especially on those killer gray gorillas. The biggest issue I find with the film is that it seems to bring things up and then glance over them like it never happened, like with the Ghost Tribe scene or when the hippos attacked.

Still, there a bunch of things with the film that were enjoyable. Cinematography was very nice, acting was alright with Eddie Hudson being the best, the plot was ok and could be taken seriously most of the time (Outside of the diamond mine scene), and it wasn’t boring to sit through. All in all, in average film with even balance of good and bad. Might be worth look if you don’t mind a talking gorilla.

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