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Congo (1995)

DVD Cover (Paramount Reissue)
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4.3
 / 10
13 votes
Genres / Traits:
Action, Adventure, Adventure Drama, Jungle Film, Creatures: Primates
Director:
Frank Marshall Frank Marshall
Starring:
Laura Linney Laura Linney
Dylan Walsh Dylan Walsh
Ernie Hudson Ernie Hudson
Tim Curry Tim Curry
Grant Heslov Grant Heslov
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 12, 2005
From a critical standpoint, "Congo" is a horrible film, filled with senseless action, terrible characters, and ridiculous side-plots about talking gorillas and a lost diamond mine. Based on the novel by Michael Crichton and directed by the king of big, Frank Marshall, "Congo" was a huge hit in theatres, which translated to even bigger success in the rental market. Most people will tell you they hated the film, and they will even criticize the film, or poke fun at it. I am not one of those people. For me, "Congo" is one of my absolute favorite films, filled with the same kind of corny action and meaningless eye candy that we, as an audience, need from time to time. Sure, this film is all over the map, but it still manages to cover enough entertaining ground to work. I loved "Congo", and still find myself glued to the screen each and every time I watch it. I treat "Congo" in the same way I treat those cheesy B-movies from the 1950's and 1960's - I don't think anyone went to the theatre, saw them, and immediately proclaimed them as classic. It took decades and decades and loyal fan followings to turn them into the classics they are today. I think "Congo" will follow that example. In twenty years or so, "Congo" might be the most popular action film in the history of film.

So, what was "Congo" really about? The film opens with Charles Travis (Bruce Campbell), the son of millionaire communications giant R.B. Travis (Joe Don Baker) transmitting live from the Congo, where they are searching for a lost diamond mine that could be used to catapult them to the pentacle of the communications mountain. However, something happens. The transmission ends with what looks like an attack on the campsite. We then cut to a university, where Dr. Peter Elliot (Dylan Walsh) is showing off his talking gorilla, Amy, who has mastered human sign language and can successfully communicate with human beings. Though so much can be learned from this gorilla, Peter wants nothing more than to take Amy back to her native Congo. He gets this opportunity when adventurist Herkermer Homolka (Tim Curry) volunteers to fund the expedition, though he really has ulterior motives - he is also searching for the lost diamond mine and he thinks Amy, being a native of the Congo, can take him to it. At the airport, enter Dr. Karen Ross (Laura Linney), who is being sent my R.B. Travis to find out what happened to his son, his team, and the diamond mine. After some financial mishaps, she funds the trip personally and away they go - Ross, Elliot, Elliot's team, Herkermer, and the talking gorilla. When they land in the Congo, they land during a time of Civil War, with feuding tribes bombing and shooting all around them. Munro (Ernie Hudson) is their guide and joins them on the expedition to make sure they make it through the Congo in one piece. As they slowly make their way through the thick jungles of the Congo, they each begin to uncover secrets about each other, and the jungle itself. One thing is for sure - everyone seems to be more than interest in the Lost City of Zing, where the diamonds evidently flow like a river. Will Dr. Ross find Charles and the lost team as well as the diamonds to save her company? Will Dr. Elliot find a secure location to set Amy free once more? Will Herkermer take a bullet to the head for eating too much of Delroy Lindo's sesame cake? Watch "Congo" for these answers, and more.

On to the performances...Laura Linney, in her pre-Greatest Actress Ever days, served as the adventurous lead for this film, a motion picture she probably does not list on her resume. She does a fine job, as does the bland Dylan Walsh as Dr. Elliot. We have no doubt she could kick his ass at a moments notice and we only feel secure when she is on-screen. To the accents...Ernie Hudson dawns his best proper British accent as the guide, Captain Munro. It is not a bad accent, but we have a heard time hearing it come from the mouth of Winston Zedmore. As Herkermer Homolka, Tim Curry is laugh out loud hysterical, and I don't mean because of his accent. He gets all of the best lines and he is so over-the-top in his performance, we realize why we love him so much. He was the best part of this film, for me, though Joe Don Baker did give a short, but inflamed performance as R.B. Travis, the closest thing to a villain we have in the film. As far as action/adventure films go, "Congo" does a very nice job with the acting portions - better than the script probably deserved.

In terms of the action, it virtually comes at us non-stop. We get attacks from the feuding Congo tribes, altercations with gray gorillas, apprehensions from government officials, hippopotamus attacks in the river, and dodging shafts of lava from erupting volcanoes. That is a lot of reality to fit into one Michael Crichton based motion picture. And, at the end of the film when Laura Linney puts the diamond in the gun and goes apeshit on those gorilla tards, who is not smiling and drooling like a little kid? I still get excited every time I see her pry that thing out of Bruce Campbell's cold and lifeless hand. The worst part of the film, for me, was when Tim Curry bites the dust, after almost getting away with all of the diamonds he could possibly want. And, then, at the end of the film - they leave all of the damned diamonds behind. I don't care how traumatic the trip was, or how horrific the memories might be - a few of those diamonds would certainly buy all the therapy they would ever need. Hell, they could buy the Congo, kick out the feuding tribes, and bring Joe Pantoliano back as the governor. All they had to do was take a few of the diamonds. Hello.

In short, go straight to hell if you don't like "Congo". This film is what entertaining audiences is all about, keeping them glued to the screen and always finding something to make them go "wow", even if it is the lowest common denominator. You might be thinking - how does any of this turn a film like "Congo" into a "classic". Because I say it does. In twenty years, when the dumbasses are flocking to their Suncoast's looking for vintage copies of "Road Trip" and "Scream", the ones of us who are "in the know" will be sitting at home with our "Congo Special Edition" DVD's watching what will then be considered one of the greatest motion picture epics of all-time. Where else can you hear a talking gorilla say, "Amy want greendrop drink." Where else can you see Tim Curry spit out a mouthful of sesame cake into his hand? Where else can you see Ernie Hudson sound like Douglas Fairbanks? "Congo", "Congo", "Congo". This film rocks, and I do too for loving it so much.

9.5/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 08/09/2009, 08:58 PM
"From a critical standpoint, "Congo" is a horrible film, filled with senseless action, terrible characters, and ridiculous side-plots about talking gorillas and a lost diamond mine."

A horrible film indeed. 0/10. Didn't enjoy even one second of this. And that includes Bruce Campbell's brief moments.
Greg Follender #2: Greg Follender - added 09/13/2009, 09:48 PM
Terrible on a gigantic scale... and (mercifully) almost completely forgotten at this point in cinema history.
Thank God for small miracles;)

Utter shite. 3/10
Lucid Dreams #3: Lucid Dreams - added 07/22/2010, 03:48 AM
This could have been a good movie, but it wasn't, oh well. 3/10
385 #4: 385 - added 11/05/2011, 06:23 AM
You were reading a lot of maddox when you wrote this huh
bluemeanie #5: bluemeanie - added 11/07/2011, 05:37 PM
This is the kind of epic bad I just LOVE.
Bill Wolford #6: Bill Wolford - added 11/08/2011, 11:43 AM
8/10. imo opinion the review is right on the mark.
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