As much as we have tamed nature, it is not an entity to be messed with, yet we still explore vigilantly. Secrets remain unearthed, and legends could lie lost in the depths, fresh for the taking if the aforementioned risk weren’t in the way. In 1995, a film offered modern audiences a pulp-inspired re-examination of the above issue, while riding on the success of Crichton based box-office successes like Jurassic Park, in Congo.
Finding a rare diamond deposit in the heart of the Congo, a leading telecommunications company utilises the diamonds exclusively for their bleeding-edge satellite. Live feed shows the team behind the discovery brutally mauled and the snarl of vicious apes. Dr Ross is sent to investigate. Meanwhile, after teaching an ape, Amy, to communicate Dr Elliott worries about her mental state and believe taking her back home would be just the ticket. Due to the region’s instabilities, the two Drs are reluctantly forced to share a flight. Getting themselves intertwined on their trip leading them into the depths of the Congo, Where warlords and dangers that might be more primal, guard ancient secrets.
While the tone of Congo is darker than your typical adventure film, but still that pulp adventure core Cong is trying to emulate is still present. Modern touches do help, there is a Neon lit battle scene that is impressive to watch, along with blossoming C.G.I. effects also are present, especially towards the latter half, when the secrets of the region are revealed. Seeing our heroes try to take on a barrage of apes (not real apes mind, no need to get concerned) with the rapid pace and all the action they do look convincing.
Adding to the pulpy cred, Congo utilises some recognisable and beloved names to populate the adaptation. A brief appearance by Bruce Campbell helps cements the tone and direction that the film takes. While former Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson is more than charming as the mercenary guide of the region, both its jungles and turbulent political situation. Tim Curry is less so, but still fun playing a rich backer with his reasons for persevering in the region. But that’s not without saying the praises of Laura Linney who fits the role of Dr Ross and the scenes with Dylan Walsh as Dr Peter Elliott especially in the first part do provide some wonder and relief, especially with the talking Amy.
With the prior success of Westworld and the then-recent boon of Jurassic Park, it would be shrewd to adapt this tale of when apes attack. The pulp adventure mix combined with some lashings of horror and modern action elements makes for a good fit. It’s an amazing artefact of the mid-90s, that’s still fun to watch today and if you’re willing to stomach some brutal kills and crow’s feet, Congo is a rare diamond of the era.
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