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Congo leaves you wanting ... something else

Updated on September 24, 2011

Try this or other, better Ape movies


See for your self if you wish.


Now, I considered doing another bad movie Real(ish)-Time-Response (this time for Frank Marshall's 1995 movie Congo), but I know that (1) they get quite long and (b) those who haven't seen the movie get very little out of the hub.

So this time, I've decided to make a more traditional review.

The movie is an adaptation of "the best-selling novel by the author of Jurassic Park" as the DVD cover feels obliged to tell me. As if they feel anything that closely related to the game-changing Jurassic Park movie couldn't possibly fail. Well, that's aparently a challenge these movie makers felt obliged to take on head-first.

And they succeeded.

By which I mean they failed.

The book this is based on was, in my opinion, okay at best. Not bad, but it didn't compare to Jurassic Park. The movie itself is somewhat terrible.

I've seen worse, and I can sit through this well enough, but it exists in a sort of bad movie limbo. It's not good enough to be qualify for "let's pull that one out and watch it tonight" and it's not bad enough to register as "So bad it's good."

Hey Frank! You still a psychopathic gorilla? / Yeah. You? / Oh heck yeah? / When will we ever be loved?
Hey Frank! You still a psychopathic gorilla? / Yeah. You? / Oh heck yeah? / When will we ever be loved?

The story, as I'm sure you can guess from the title, follows a group of apes who learn to do the conga.

Wait a minute, my editor is pointing out that that's not the case. Which is odd because I didn't think I even had an editor for my hubs.

They're now telling me that it's actually about a group who head to the African Congo to discover what happened to the previous expedition to the African Congo. I assume the previous expedition was there to learn about what happened to a third expedition and that there will shortly be another one coming to learn the fate of this latest one.

It's comforting to know that companies will just keep sending good expeditions after bad in this economy.

What I thought ...

It's too bad the movie turns out the way it does. There are plenty of things that should have helped it out:

  • Director/producer Frank Marshall worked on Back to the Future, Gremlins, Poltergeist, Indiana Jones, The COlor Purple, An American Tail, Noises Off and plenty of other great movies.
  • The music was done by the great Jerry Goldsmith which contributed to something very weird. Early in the movie, when we're shown a shot of a satelite, the music almost sounds like Star Trek or something else far superior to this thing.

The great Chuck Finley
The great Chuck Finley
  • The effects were done by ILM and the Stan Winston Studio.
  • And this is a perfect waste of Bruce Campbell.

Yet it all adds up to something just a bit ridiculous and laughable.

They try for fun and greatness, but it doesn't quite work:

Picasso in his, "look at me, I can paint in an ape costume!" phase
Picasso in his, "look at me, I can paint in an ape costume!" phase
  • The gorilla Amy is a passable effect, but definitely looks more like an animatronic costume than a live gorilla.
  • Tim Curry's character has an accent that we're told is supposed to be Romanian, but it sounds more like Star Trek's Chekov gargling Gatorade with his nose plugged.
  • Ernie Hudson's crack "I'm your great white hunter for this trip though I happen to be black" leaves me rather lukewarm.
  • And what kind of movie is it when you can't even make a midnight river attack by hippos exciting?
  • Oh, and I don't know if you noticed that the diamond Tim Curry picks up in the mine has been cut professionally. Are we to believe that these gorillas were trained as master artisans as well as murderers?

A couple moments work well enough, but they they're not enough to save the movie itself. Mostly, it leaves you thinking about and wishing you were watching other, better movies.

  • The scene where they're defending their camp at night with their automated sentry guns makes me wish I were watching Aliens.

Holy Cow! These hieroglyphics are from the last year I was a serious actor.
Holy Cow! These hieroglyphics are from the last year I was a serious actor.
  • The scenes with the gorillas makes me wish I were watching ANY of the Planet of the Apes movies, including the Tim Burton re-imagining.
  • Several sections make you long to be watching a good Indiana Jones adventure.
  • And every other scene makes you long for ... anything else you can think of.

It's not bad enough to hate. Just ridiculous enough not to take seriously and bland enough not to stand out in your mind.

It rates a middling 5 / 10.

Congo has been rated PG-13 for language (including one "F"), violence and being ridiculous.


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