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Congo is the first movie on the IMDB for which I am writing a user comment.
I am giving it this distinction because, although it is not the best movie
have ever seen, nor my all-time favorite movie, it is one of my personal
favorites nonetheless. If I could choose only ten movies to own, or even
just five, Congo would be one of them.
Because so many people dislike Congo, or are at least indifferent to it, I feel compelled to explain why I like it. I like Congo because it's different: in the seven years since I first saw it in June of 1995, I've seen countless other movies, but Congo still retains its uniqueness, I believe. Other movies have tried to duplicate Congo's juvenile sense of adventure and tongue-in-cheek humor (most notably the two Mummy movies), but none of them have surpassed Congo as one of the most gleefully preposterous and deliriously fun yarns I've ever seen.
So many people have criticized Congo in so many ways that I'm not sure which complaint I should address first. The consensus among most comments seems to be that the character of Amy, the "talking" gorilla, pretty much ruins the movie because she is annoying and unconvincing. Although I cannot deny that "Amy" is, indeed, a woman in a gorilla costume which is not quite convincing, I should also say (1) that when I first saw Congo, I thought Amy was pretty convincing, and at least acceptable; and (2) convincing gorillas in movies are rare, in my opinion. Rick Baker's work in Gorillas in the Mist and the Mighty Joe Young remake is the best I've seen; and although Amy (created by Stan Winston's team, not Baker's) is inferior to Baker's best work, she's better than some of Baker's apes in Burton's terrible Planet of the Apes remake. If I must choose between Amy, and Tim Roth in an obvious chimpanzee costume, I choose Amy.
Another common complaint is that the movie Congo is inferior to Michael Crichton's novel, upon which it was based. I read the novel in early 1995, just prior to seeing the movie, and so the book was still fresh in my mind when I saw the movie: and I thought the movie did an excellent job of conveying the essence of the book, and gave the story an offbeat style which sets the movie apart from the book. The movie also has a healthy sense of humor about itself, which Crichton's novel lacks and sorely needs.
I almost forgot the actors! Some people hate Congo simply because it lacks a Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis; nevertheless it does boast a talented and interesting cast of mostly underrated actors. Laura Linney has given good, strong performances in many movies, but I argue that her performance in Congo is still her most entertaining. Dylan Walsh gives an earnest, appealing performance as the earnest, appealing Peter Elliot, whose devotion to Amy (however laughable it is for many viewers) gives the movie some heart. Ernie Hudson gives a clever, unforgettable performance as Munro Kelly; although black, he possesses the mannered speech and condescending attitude of an authentic "great white hunter," one of the movie's best gags. Grant Heslov has little to do, but some of his delivery is terrific ("Safari? I don't even like picnics!") Tim Curry is a sheer delight in this movie, giving a campy performance as the monomaniacal Herkermer Homolka, a "Roumanian philanthropist" obviously written into the movie (the character does not exist in the novel) to correspond with Wayne Knight's character Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park. Some people are offended by Curry's performance, and believe it's offensive to Roumanians as well. Here's a tip: anyone offended by anything in Congo takes life (not to mention this movie) way too seriously, and needs to lighten up.
Many people hate Congo simply because it's cheesy. But considering the story (assorted oddballs journey to a site in the African jungle which may be the legendary mines of King Solomon), how could the movie not be cheesy? Did people really expect a movie called Congo to be realistic, believable and compelling? Surely such a movie would be even more cliched and misconceived than the one that was made. John Patrick Shanley's script may be crude and smug, but at least it's fun, and certainly a model of efficiency: Shanley trimmed the novel of subplots (such as a rival expedition, and attempts to decipher the gray gorillas' "language") which would have made the movie longer, slower and more pretentious. He added lots of pithy dialogue and made the whole affair an exercise in high camp. The result is a quintessential juvenile adventure that improves upon more bombastic and elaborate efforts like Armageddon. And Frank Marshall's straightforward, low-key direction nicely contrasts with the inherent absurdity of the storyline; a more intense and heavy-handed director would not have been a good choice to helm a movie like Congo.
Congo isn't nearly the terrible movie that many people believe it is. It isn't a movie for everybody or even a movie for most people: but it was created with a certain audience in mind, and many people are simply too serious and high-minded to belong to that audience. Congo and movies like it are cartoons for adults: if you don't like movies with colorful visuals, ridiculous plots and juvenile characters, you should not watch Congo. But if you do like movies with those characteristics, then I submit that Congo is one of the best movies of that kind that I've ever seen.
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.
Don't get me wrong, this is not Oscar worthy in the least, nor does it
stand as a particularly entertaining popcorn flick.
I love this movie because of it's incredible cheesiness, from the talking gorilla to Tim Curry's greedy diamond chaser to the absurd diamond laser plot line. I've read Crichton's book and it's quite good, the movie however, misses a lot of the time.
That being said, I still love watching it, I can't explain it, I guess it's so bad that it's good for a laugh whenever I see it, and watching people devoured by psychopathic gorillas never gets old.
If you've got friends over, pop this one in and give it the MST3K treatment, you'll have a blast I'm sure.
Like I said, no redeeming value to be had here but if you like watching bad movies just for the heck of it, this may be one to check out.
P.S. Joe Pantoliano's cameo is golden.
OK, this movie is best watched on a rainy day or when you're pretty bored. The fake looking gorillas were obviously not very well-made, whereas the 1993 film Jurassic Park had familiarized audiences with CG dinosaurs. In fact, CGI was originally planned for the grays, but the technology had not yet been developed to the point where realistic hair could be created. While smooth skinned dinosaurs were possible, hairy apes would have looked inappropriately cartooned. Therefore, animatronics, masks and puppetry had to be utilized. So that was kind of a damper on the special effects as well as Tim Curry's bad acting. The movie could have been a lot better, but it was viewable. If you got over the gorilla puppets and Tim Curry's accent, you have a pretty decent movie. I thought the story was good. It's not Jurassic Park, but it's Michael Crichton. Congo wasn't very realistic, but neither was Jurassic Park. It was like that show "Legends of the Hidden Temple" with intelligent gorillas and science. There was action and a plot. So I could sit and watch it. I'll give it (barely) 6 stars.
"Congo" is a lot of fun as long as you don't take it seriously. Because
they share the author of the books they are based on, it is perhaps
inevitable that in any review of "Congo" the film "Jurassic Park" will
come up sooner or later. Yes, "Jurassic Park" vastly surpasses "Congo"
in quality, but seeing as how the former is debatedly THE best example
of a summer action flick, making that statement doesn't necessarily
mean that "Congo" isn't worth watching.
In fact, "Congo" is a breathtaking thriller, probably only marred by its budget which causes some of the effects to look rather cheap, and descend into the B-movie territory. That being said, director Frank Marshall still manages to not only create a film that not only succeeds as an action film, but at times the tension grows so high that it almost could be labeled as a horror flick (though I highly doubt that that was the intent).
Yet there is some justification in labeling "Congo" as a horror film (at least in part). There are definitely some moments, particularly in the latter half of the movie, that are actually quite frightening. While the killer gorillas don't necessarily "look" scary up close, the savagery in which they attack and brutally murder people is pretty scary. In addition, the gore level is pretty high, especially for a PG-13 rating. The efforts on the part of the filmmakers to avoid an R rating is at times obvious, such as in some of the more brutal gorilla attacks, the picture is fuzzy and in slow-motion (these changes are not successful, and hurt the movie). Even as it is, the levels of terror and gore are high enough to make one wonder whether the PG-13 rating is appropriate.
"Congo" is not without its flaws. As I said before, the budget constraints make some of the effects look cheap, and at times lower the film to the B-level range. Also, the film takes a little too long to begin gaining momentum, which at times cause the film to drag (though the payoff in the latter half of the movie is well worth the wait). Finally, it is quite clear that Amy is a person in a gorilla suit (which given the complexity of the character was unavoidable). The killer gorillas don't suffer from the same fate, but they don't look particularly frightening (actually, they look rather sickly, however their actions quickly quash that notion).
Frequently, acting is not a strong point for most action-adventure films, unless the characters are rather unique (as in "Pirates of the Caribbean"). However, "Congo" is an exception. It features not one, but two standout performances. Tim Curry is great as Herkermer Homolka, the jewel-obsessed "Romanian philanthropist" (you can almost see his eyes take the form of diamonds. It's a typical Tim Curry role, but he avoids overdoing it and becoming annoying (which I guess he is, but in a good way).
But perhaps the biggest surprise is Ernie Hudson as the sarcastic, and ever so slick Monroe Kelly. It's all in the delivery, and Hudson delivers his lines with enough wit and bite to make him easily the most appealing actor in the movie. Had this movie been more popular, it would be reasonable to suspect that Hudson could have been up for an Oscar, as most of the nominees of the said award win for inferior performances. Laura Linney and Dylan Walsh are adequate, but given the staple hero characters they are given, it is probably unfair to expect more than what they give. Grant Heslov plays the neurotic sidekick that he usually plays (see "True Lies"), and it is pretty welcoming.
I don't understand why this flopped at the box-office. Perhaps because it had to live up to the reputation of "Jurassic Park," which is more than can be expected of any film.
The idea is great, the book was a good read, and the film ought to have
been great as well. I was disappointed, but I still have a soft spot
for this story. They expected Congo to be the next King Kong and there
were a good deal of toys, action figures, books, stickers, etc. to sell
to the expected hordes of fans. The fans did not materialize and the
action figures are an easy buy on the internet.
The legend of the city of Zinj is a phenomenal idea to work with for a film. Evolved apes is a sure seller. But this movie did not deliver. There were so many missed opportunities and examples of poor writing. For me the ape researcher on the expedition is a bit goofy to be credible. And he is one of the central characters! We are not given much to believe his knowledge or utility to the expedition or to Amy for that matter. This spoils that character. I liked the African actors in the film and was willing to go along with the hunter and his somewhat distracting phony English accent. But somehow, the film did not deliver what it could easily have delivered: action plus thought-provoking story about animal intelligence.
I don't care what anybody says. I thought it was a well thought-out
storyline and the characters were awesome. Everyone had to love
Herkama. He made the whole show. Besides, I've seen a lot worse be
treated to Academy awards simply because of directors and the movies
weren't that great.
I don't think what the creator was attempting to capture special effects buffs as much as it was telling a basic concept of greed.
If you like a good story and can grasp the concept of what it is telling you about the wisdom of Solomon then watch this movie with new insight. If not, you deserve Million Dollar Baby!
I remember being only six years old when my older brother and his friends rented this one night. I watched it with them and now that I am seventeen years old, I feel that this was one of my most cherished memories. Of course i fell asleep near the end of it then, but it was still a really good memory, to watch CONGO with them. And now I have viewed this film fairly recently without falling asleep and have read the Michael Crichton(Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain) book. I for one find this film to be very entertaining. Of course it goes without saying that this film is not completely accurate to the book. They have added new characters and added more gory death and less technology and actual factual feeling. The creators could have made this film an interesting sci-fi adventure feature, but instead they have made a B movie. Although the film feels like the former, and did when i was six. This film has enough technology and factual feel to be interesting, but not quite believable. And yet, this for once, is not at all a bad thing. The film is pretty convoluted. It is about a primatologist and a friend who have a talking gorilla(via electronic headset) and decide to go to it's birthplace to see what its like and discover what happened to a team that went their a little while earlier to find a treasure in which Tim Curry randomly appears in a fake accent and pretends to be a companion who is searched for by a stereotypical soldier looking dude who turns out not to be a friend and, yeah. I don't really know how to exactly explain the plot, suffice to say that somehow, the gorilla named Amy and her friends, for some reason, must escape from a helicopter because they are shot at and end up in the jungle, not alone, with all of their crew mates and stuff. And from there on, they must try to avoid danger from snakes, hippos, and a wild pack of mutated monkeys that intend to eat their flesh and kill everyone. I know that this film sounds completely ridiculous and stupidly pointless, but that is really part of the fun. Usually movies are either thought provoking and interesting, or entertaining. This film is very entertaining and funny. This film also has a high body count, with a lot of characters meeting their end in gruesome ways. It takes itself seriously, but not seriously enough to make it not fun. I liked this film as a kid because it was funny and fun. It still works for me.
I only read a bit of the novel, the bit when the people are killed, and it is really graphic. The film is no masterpiece,it is a bit cheesy, but it does have a sense of fun, (ie. Bruce Campbell, "Stop eating my sesame cake") and not as bad as the rating suggests. The special effects are nothing special, and I didn't get why the gorillas jumped into the lava at the end. That was the most cheesy thing about Congo. The script had its ups and downs, and the direction was a bit inexperienced. But the acting was on the whole alright. Laura Linney, who is a very good actress is a strong lead. Dylan Walsh pales in comparison but has some good delivery. Ernie Hudson is the best actor in the movie, with his easy-going charm and his grin. As for Tim Curry, at first I was put off by the accent, but hey it's acting. He was like a parallel to Dennis in Jurassic Park which is better. But I liked him here,he gave a great delivery of such classic lines. Please stop criticising him, when he was actually one of the reasons why I like the movie. He didn't deserve that Razzie nomination; that should have been Grant Heslov, whose delivery was whiny and his character was poorly written. Amy starts off well, like the movie, but grates on the nerves when the movie wears on. I am terrified of the King Solomons Mine scene, it is just very graphic, having your head bashed in like that. I know it's pretend but it felt real.The scenery was splendid, the cinematography was excellent and Jerry Goldsmith's music was good. In conclusion, a fairly watchable movie, if you don't mind too much cheese, and shouldn't be compared to Jurassic Park, the only thing they have in common were that they were written by the same author. 6/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is a fairly mindless piece of work, not as good as the novel, but this film isn't too bad. The monkey scenes are good, as is the plot which is: Working for a company mining diamonds out of Congo, Karen Ross, whose previous team had been killed, goes to the Congo with Peter Elliott, who has trained a gorilla to talk using sign language, who is planning to release her. Special-effects aren't great, but I enjoyed it. I don't really understand why the gorillas were simply jumping into lava at the end. It only rates a 5 out of 10 on my ratings.
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