Congo (film)

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Congo
Congo film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Marshall
Produced byKathleen Kennedy
Sam Mercer
Screenplay byJohn Patrick Shanley
Based onCongo 
by Michael Crichton
Starring
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyAllen Daviau
Editing byAnne V. Coates
StudioKennedy/Marshall
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release datesJune 9, 1995 (1995-06-09)
Running time109 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$50 million
Box office$152,022,101
 
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Congo
Congo film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Marshall
Produced byKathleen Kennedy
Sam Mercer
Screenplay byJohn Patrick Shanley
Based onCongo 
by Michael Crichton
Starring
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyAllen Daviau
Editing byAnne V. Coates
StudioKennedy/Marshall
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release datesJune 9, 1995 (1995-06-09)
Running time109 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$50 million
Box office$152,022,101

Congo is a 1995 action adventure film loosely based on Michael Crichton's novel of the same name. It was directed by Frank Marshall (a frequent collaborator of Steven Spielberg, who directed another film based on Crichton's work, Jurassic Park) and stars Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh, Ernie Hudson, Tim Curry, Grant Heslov, and Joe Don Baker. The film was released on June 9, 1995 by Paramount Pictures.[1][2]

Plot[edit]

Charles Travis (Bruce Campbell) and Karen Ross (Laura Linney) are testing a communications laser in a remote part of the Congo near a dormant volcano when Charles' friend Jeffrey (Taylor Nichols) discovers an ancient lost city's ruins. When Jeffrey and Charles go to explore it, they are both mysteriously killed. While Karen waits at headquarters, she activates a video feed and sees a destroyed camp with several dead bodies. The camera is then suddenly knocked over, ending the transmission. TraviCom's CEO and Charles' father R.B. Travis (Joe Don Baker) reveals they were really exploring the Congo to find a rare blue diamond that's only found at the volcanic site.

Dr. Peter Elliott (Dylan Walsh), a primatologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and his assistant Richard (Grant Heslov) teach human communication to primates using a gorilla named Amy (voiced by Shayna Fox). With a special backpack and glove, her sign language is translated to a digitized voice. Despite the success, Peter is concerned that Amy is having nightmares and psychological problems. These have been partly quelled by Amy's painted pictures of trees and the Eye of Providence. Peter theorizes that she's painting a jungle and decides to return her to Africa, but the university is reluctant to fund the expedition. Peter is approached by Romanian philanthropist, Herkermer Homolka (Tim Curry), who offers to fund the expedition. Karen, hoping to find Charles, joins Peter and provides additional funding.

In Africa, the group meets their expert guide Captain Munro Kelly (Ernie Hudson) but they are captured by the local authorities and militia leader named Captain Wanta (Delroy Lindo) who grants them passage for a sizable bribe. As the group boards another plane, Munro reveals that Homolka has led previous safaris in search of the "Lost City of Zinj", with disastrous results. The group must parachute into the jungle after their plane is shot down by Zairean soldiers. They make camp and Karen sets up equipment to contact TraviCom via satellite but Amy inadvertently knocks over the equipment destroying it, leading Travis to conclude that this expedition met a similar fate to the first. He then sends another expedition.

The tribe's members lead the team to Bob Driscoll (John Hawkes), a member of the original expedition. He's in a catatonic state and the tribe performs a ritual to summon his spirit back to his body. Once revived, Bob sees Amy and begins screaming, before coughing up blood and dying. Perplexed, the group heads deeper into the jungle by boat. Munro presses Homolka about his obsession with the lost city, and he reveals that as a young man he found a book that contained a drawing of Zinj where there had been a vast diamond mine. The drawing featured an open eye, the same eye that Amy has been painting. Homolka comes to the conclusion that Amy has seen Zinj and can lead the group there. Before entering the mountain range the group sees the plane from the third expedition take anti-aircraft fire from the Zaire Air Force and watch it burn up and crash.

Arriving at the empty camp site, the group finally discovers Zinj. When they search the city, they find a specific hieroglyph and a hysterical Richard runs into the city with his head covered in blood. He collapses dead and a killer grey gorilla comes from the shadows and attacks the group, but is killed by gunshots. Killer Grey Gorillas then attack the perimeter after dark, but are driven off by automated sentry guns set up by Karen. Homolka translates the hieroglyph as: "We are watching you."

The group enters the ruins, where they find hieroglyph pictures of people teaching the killer grey gorillas to guard the mines and kill anyone trying to steal the diamonds. It is theorized that the killer grey gorillas turned on their masters, and then taught their offspring to defend the area, even from other gorillas. Soon afterwards, the remaining members of the group find Homolka at the entrance of the mine picking up handfuls of large diamonds, but are suddenly ambushed by the killer grey gorillas, who live in the mine; Homolka is killed. In the mine, Karen and Peter find Charles's body, a large blue diamond in his hands. As the killer grey gorillas move to attack Peter, Amy fiercely protects him, giving Karen time to load the blue diamond into her laser, which she uses as a weapon against the gorillas. The volcano then suddenly erupts, collapsing the mine into molten lava. Peter, Karen, Munro, and Amy escape as the killer grey gorillas are killed by the lava.

Karen contacts Travis and informs him about the blue diamond, but that Charles is dead. When she realizes that Travis only cares about the diamond, she programs the laser to target TraviCom's satellite, destroying it. Having found the crashed cargo plane from the third expedition with a hot air balloon, Karen has Munro set it up. Peter says goodbye to Amy as she joins a group of mountain gorillas. Peter, Karen, and Munro set off in the balloon and Karen has Peter throw away the only diamond she saved from the mine.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

Box Office[edit]

Congo opened with a weekend total of $24,642,539, eventually going on to gross $152,022,101 worldwide ($81,022,101 domestic) theatrically versus a $50,000,000 budget.[3]

Critical response[edit]

Though the film was a box-office hit, the critical reaction was negative: Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected 43 reviews to give the film a rating of 21%.[4] A significant cause of disappointment among the novel's fans was that the "gorillas" were obviously costumed humans and puppets with noticeable fur mask gaps on the necks, whereas the 1993 film Jurassic Park had familiarized audiences with CGI dinosaurs. CGI was originally planned for the gray gorillas, but the technology hadn't yet been developed to the point where realistic hair could be created. While smooth-skinned dinosaurs were possible, hairy apes would have looked inappropriately cartoonish. Animatronics, masks, and puppetry had therefore to be used, created by Stan Winston.

The film had some positive reviews: Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 out of 4 stars, and called the film a splendid example of a genre no longer much in fashion, the jungle adventure story.[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

AwardCategorySubjectResult
Golden Raspberry AwardWorst New StarAmy the Talking GorillaNominated
Worst Supporting ActressNominated
Worst Supporting ActorTim CurryNominated
Worst Original SongJerry Goldsmith "(Feel) the Spirit of Africa"Nominated
Worst ScreenplayJohn Patrick ShanleyNominated
Worst PictureKathleen KennedyNominated
Sam MercerNominated
Worst DirectorFrank MarshallNominated
Saturn AwardBest Science Fiction FilmKathleen KennedyNominated
Sam MercerNominated
Best DirectorFrank MarshallNominated

References[edit]

External links[edit]