A megalomaniac C.E.O. sends his son into the dangerous African Congo on a quest for a source of diamonds large enough and pure enough to function as powerful laser communications transmitters (or is it laser weapons?). When contact is lost with his son and the team, his sometime daughter- in-law is sent after them. She is a former CIA operative and, accompanied by gee-whiz gadgetry and a few eccentric characters (including a mercenary, a researcher with a talking gorilla, and a a nutty Indiana-Jones-type looking for King Solomon's Mines), sets out to rescue her former fiancé. What they all discover is that often what we most want turns out to be the source of our downfall. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Director Frank Marshall originally intended to use the computer work pioneered on Jurassic Park (1993) for the gorillas, but opted for models as the computers weren't capable of reproducing hair. See more »
The television and video recorder on the stand disappear halfway through Dr. Elliot's presentation. See more »
Congo is rarely mentioned in any discussion about film. It seems like a forgotten artifact, abandoned like King Solomon's mines, discovered only by only those who maintain some fundamental interest; what you find is going to depend on how open you keep your mind. Rest assured, those of you who would rather ignore it aren't going to be missing a diamond, but I'd say an arrowhead isn't out of the question.
I'll dispense with the metaphors: Congo is not a bad film. I watched it many times in my youth and just watched it again yesterday, and the biggest complaint I have is that the original song 'Sounds Of Africa' is awful. I won't summarize the plot or analyze the film in explicit detail, but I will say that it is briskly paced, sharply written, and features solid characterizations, or as solid as they can be in an adventure epic. As an example, Tim Curry has been dismissed too often as the comic relief when he is actually central to the plot and turns in a deliciously dense performance, above and beyond the limitations of his character. Considering the slightly campy tone, the special effects are well above what anyone could expect. Just don't come prepared to judge them based on modern standards or Jurassic Park. Personally, I find physical effects more endearing than CGI anyway.
As many reviewers have said, it's a film of a bygone era, a lost world story treated as an adventure epic. Clearly it's not Indiana Jones and the tone tends to waver a bit, but it's never boring, and if it had been adapted from the book directly, it would have been. I can't imagine someone watching the airplane SAM scene without being excited by the action, or watching the group's border crossing struggles without at least sporting a grin.
So, check your ego and check your critical faculties; this is no Citizen Kane and it doesn't pretend to be. Those that harshly criticize it, by my estimation, have a lot to learn about having a good time at the movies.
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