Congo ★★★★

Dozenth rewatch, at least. This time, I thought I'd dust off and update an old IMDB contribution:

When it comes to film discussion, Congo seems like a forgotten curio, abandoned like King Solomon's mines and discovered only by those who bother to cultivate an interest; what you find is going to depend on how open you keep your mind. Rest assured, those who would rather ignore it aren't going to be missing a diamond, but I'd say unearthing an artifact isn't out of the question.

I'll dispense with the metaphors: Congo is not a bad film. I watched it many times in my youth and the biggest complaint I have is that the original song Sounds Of Africa is awful. I won't summarize the plot or analyze the film in explicit detail, but I will say that it is briskly paced, sharply written, consistently funny, and features solid characterization for an adventure epic. The latter portion is, of course, helped greatly by the rogue's gallery of character actors: Ernie Hudson, Tim Curry, Grant Heslov, Joe Don Baker, John Hawkes, Joe Pantoliano, Delroy Lindo, Bruce Campbell and others are having a blast with the deliciously droll dialogue linking one action set-piece to another.

In practical terms, the burden of expectations on this film, being another Michael Crichton adaptation only two years after Jurassic Park, was unfair. Congo is not in the same ballpark only because it's playing a completely different sport; its rhythms hearken back to '30s adventure serials à la Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's supposed to be fun. That Congo has a sense of humor about itself shouldn't be held against it; it's never boring, and if it had been adapted from the book directly, it would have been. I can't imagine someone watching the illicit, barb-heavy border crossings without sporting a grin, or admonishing the flare countermeasures as boring.

Speaking of which, Karen Ross is an unqualified badass. In almost every dire situation, she's thinking two or three steps ahead of her male counterparts, unapologetically kicking open the exterior doors on a plane in flight or strapping on a laser to fry some unruly apes. She may not be Ripley, but dammit, she's cut from the same cloth.

So, check your ego and check your critical faculties; this is no Citizen Kane and it doesn't want to be. By my estimation, those who harshly criticize Congo have a lot to learn about having a good time at the movies.

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