Movie of the Day – Congo
July 31, 2012 Leave a comment
Like King Solomon’s Mine I am digging up this wonderful artifact of filmmaking. Congo is a pure guilty pleasure in every sense of the word. It was panned by critics, set up for numerous Razzies, but damned if I don’t love the hell out of this movie. A jungle adventure where the gray gorillas protect an ancient diamond that hasn’t yet been exploited by child labor and Freedom Fighters for profit, it had laughs, chills, kills and hammy acting that just called to me from the depths of the jungle. Also a talking gorilla! AMY GOOD GORILLA!
R.B. Travis (Joe Don Baker) is the ruthless head of Travi-Com, a telecommunications firm on the cusp of a major breakthrough in laser communications technology. However, Travis needs diamonds to finish the project, so he sends a group of men to Zaire, where he’s told that a large supply of the gems can be easily found. When the men go missing, Travis sends his trusted assistant Karen Ross (Laura Linney), a one-time CIA associate, into the jungle to find both his staff and the jewels. Hoping to keep her mission a secret, Karen travels to Zaire in the company of Peter (Dylan Walsh), a researcher on primate development who is hoping to return Amy, a gorilla who has been taught sign language and can “speak” English with the help of a glove-controlled computer device. Also travelling with them is Herkermer (Tim Curry), a Romanian with a secret agenda: he’s convinced that Amy can guide him to the Lost City of Zinj, where he believes that King Solomon’s Mines are located. Upon arrival, the group is met by Monroe Kelly (Ernie Hudson), a self-described “great white hunter who happens to be black,” and they discover that the jungle holds a menace that they weren’t counting on: a tribe of bloodthirsty gray gorillas. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Hells yeah, Congo sports a rather good cast, mainly cause Bruce Motherfucking Campbell makes an appearance. But having Ernie Hudson, Delroy Lindo, Dylan Walsh (he was good on Nip Tuck), Tim Curry and Laura Linney just adds to the excitement of this movie. Add all those actors with a talking gorilla and I am sold on this movie, even with all the action that is chucked into this movie.
Congo does have some faults, but I can easily look past all of them because Frank Marshall ended up giving us a fun adventure, action film that has some pulpy comic feel to it, even if it was slightly adapted from the Michael Crichton novel of the same name. The movie isn’t too certain on what it wants to be really. It waivers between being a horror movie, an action or adventure movie, or even a thriller. You can tell by the extreme change in tone from mythical legends to comedic points in the movie and then to all out action. It isn’t that well balanced as it is a bit jarring going from one turn point in emotions to the next, but when it does come together, it’s glorious.
The characters of the film all fit within this little type that the audience is familiar with. Walsh is the noble scientist, Linney is the stern corporate woman, Hudson plays the silent hero and Curry plays the turncoat. It’s hammy, but they all work within their restrictions, making the enjoyment of the all the better when each interact with one another. They are snarky to one another, they depend on each other and each ends up owning their characters. I like it cause it is simple, but not overly dense and you can enjoy the characters for what they are.
Overall, Congo is a relic of filmmaking past. Dismissed for the campy nature and uneven structure in the themes and genre crossing, I don’t expect a lot of people to remember this movie or even put it up their in the pantheon of bad good movies. I remember everything about this movie, so much so that I could probably repeat quotes at length. It has a lot of comedic moments, suspense, action and fun, albeit graphically violent, sense of adventure. A better than average B-movie!