Thursday, September 18, 2014


Although it's not his best work, Michael Crichton's 1980 novel Congo is actually a pretty good story. Sadly, the same can't be said for the big screen adaptation made 15 years later. The film stars Dylan Walsh as a scientist who has raised a sign-language speaking ape named Amy and decided to return the gorilla back to the wild with the help of a bizarre financier (Tim Curry) whose interests in the gorilla's doodles make him believe Amy could lead the group to the legendary lost city of Zinj.

The movie condenses and jumbles the motives of everyone involved producing a single expedition which also includes a scientist (Laura Linney) looking for her ex-fiancé and his team who were attacked by strange murderous gray gorillas (rather than motivated by the corporate greed of the priceless diamonds lost in the jungle as in the novel), a great white hunter who happens to be black (Ernie Hudson), and a member of the group who you know has no chance to make it out alive (Grant Heslov).

Although it does have a certain cheese factor that makes it watchable (if at times also laughably bad), Congo can't be ranked as a good movie by any reasonable scale (sort of like the hammy performances of both Curry and Hudson). Crichton's original tale is butchered into a trainwreck of a movie that hasn't aged that well given the advances in effects over the past two decades. Released on Blu-ray for the first time, the only extras Congo includes are the film's trailers.

[Paramount, $14.97]

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