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Former C.I.A operative Karen Ross (Laura Linney), working for TraviCom Communications, witnesses what she thinks is the company’s failed attempt at testing a transmitter device when the remote camera in an uncharted area of the Congo jungle shows a devastated camp, she clandestinely assembles a group of participants, including a primatologist with a talking ape, to help her into the site and search for the team and the actual target of the mission, a massive diamond that would revolutionize their systems. What they find is an aggressive new species of grey ape who aren’t so willing to let strangers into their land.
Directed by Frank Marshall and based on the book of the same name by Michael Crichton, Congo is an odd film that appears to be homaging 1940s black and white jungle capers but fails in capturing any of the wit and charm of that inspiration, instead, in the modern age, feeling clunky and as actors talk like golden-era film stars in a mostly muddled plot that is filled with too much violence and cynicism for the genre it is trying to emulate. Low budget sets are mixed with some decent looking apes (actors in suits), though by today’s high CGI standard, look off. There are some good performances though, especially from Linney, but it’s not enough to truly make this worthy. Read the book instead. It’s far better.
This moment is about discovery and begins when Ross learns that the lost expedition found the ruins of an ancient fabled city at the base of a volcano where a legendary giant blue diamond is believed to be hidden. Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Elliott (Dylan Walsh), a university primatologist, has a female ape who is drawing pictures of eyes in the jungle, motivating him to seek funding for an expedition to Africa, a cause an eager Romanian philanthropist named Herkermer Homolka (Tim Curry) accepts, and along with Ross, who’s company further subsidizes the trip, they head to the jungle with their guide Captain Munro Kelly (Ernie Hudson) and his men. While in the jungle, they eventually find the destroyed camp and are attacked by killer grey gorillas, which they soon manage to hold at bay, but are not deterred and move on until they discover the jungle-shrouded city and the rich tombs within.
Littered on the cave floor are hundreds of massive uncut diamonds that the greedy and spineless Homolka (Curry) hastily begins piling into his arms, which immediately gets the attention of the guardian gorillas hiding in the shadows. They soon overwhelm him and despite the heavily armed gunmen in the group trying to stop the horde of apes, they are no match for the seemingly supernaturally empowered beasts who literally file out of the walls while a sudden earthquake trembles the hollowed ground. It’s an epic comeuppance for the narrow-minded antagonist and while the film flat refuses to go big, is a the action highlight. While these days, these grey gorillas would be a swarm of very convincing CGI, the actors in suits do a great job of brings creative genius Stan Winton‘s creations to life.
Director: Frank Marshall
Writers: Michael Crichton (novel), John Patrick Shanley(screenplay)
Stars: Laura Linney, Tim Curry, Dylan Walsh, Ernie Hudson, Joe Don Baker