Congo is 1995 action/adventure film (with a slight comedic streak) based on the novel of the same name written by Michael Crichton (of Jurassic Park fame).An expedition to the titular Congo on telecommunications company Travi-Com's part to develop a laser weapon ends in disaster when the party is slain by an unseen threat. Dr. Karen Ross (Laura Linney), who used to be the fiance of one of the members of the party, is sent to investigate the incident and retrieve the weapon.Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Elliott (Dylan Walsh), a primatologist, has invented a device that translates sign-language into audible English, and by doing so has given his pet gorilla, Amy, the ability to speak (she is voiced by Shayna Fox). Amy has been having nightmares, so Peter resolves to take her back to her birthplace in the Congo. At first he is unable to find funding, but then Romanian philanthropist Herkermer Homolka (Tim Curry) grants it. It is revealed that Herkermer has an ulterior motive; to find the mythical lost city of Zinj, said to contain an ample diamond mine. Peter, Amy, Herkermer, and Peter's friend Richard (Grant Heslov) meet with Karen and head for Africa. Once there, they meet their guide, Captain Munro Kelly (Ernie Hudson), and embark on the expedition.Along the way, they encounter Zaire soldiers, hippopotami, and finally the city of Zinj itself, guarded by a pack of killer gorillas responsible for its elusiveness and for the initial expedition's slaughter.Congo is certainly trite, shallow, silly and cheesy; but intentionally so. If you don't think too hard about it, then it's a perfectly acceptable So Bad, It's Good or So Okay, It's Average fragment of entertainment; if you're browsing Blockbuster one night for a DVD for movie night with your friends and they don't have Anaconda, this will do instead.
Tropes the film follows:
Action Girl: Karen Ross kicks serious ass in the movie. In the novel she's an Ice Queen who becomes overly focused on her goal and inadvertently sets off the volcano.
Artistic License - Geology: The volcano scene had many geologic sins (diamonds in basalt, etc), but often gets faulted for one part that was actually accurate; the speed of the flow. The Congo is the only place in the world where lava actually can move at freeway speeds due to its consistency (think mud bath, only it would melt your face instead of cleansing your pores).
Bruce Campbell: He orignally audtioned for the part of Peter, but lost out to Dylan Walsh. Director Frank Marshall, however, offered Bruce the "small, dead-in-five-minutes" role as Karen's missing ex-fiance Charlie and Bruce opted to look on the bright side(and get an all-expenses paid Costa Rican vacation to boot).
"Sometimes Hollywood is like a game show: if you don't win the new car, you get a toaster. Who was I to argue with the man who used to produce all of Steven Spielberg's films?"
He's also related that after the first take, the director berated him for adding a few hesitant "er"s and "uh"s in an attempt to make his dialogue sound more natural, causing him to suspect John Patrick Shanley's contract included the filmmakers not being able to change a single word of his script.
Butt Monkey: Homolka — everyone who's met him before treats him with contempt.
"What the hell is that?!" "The latest in modern communications!"
Cannibal Tribe: In the novel only, the team has to constantly avoid a cannibalistic tribe of natives who are at war with the Mobutu government. Partly because they were cannibals, but mostly because Mobutu was a vicious dictator running a People's Republic of Tyranny and he didn't like that said tribe was ignoring him.
Bruce Campbell plays Charlie, former fiance of Karen Ross and leader of the first, doomed expedition. Notably, the addition of this character completely changes Karen's motivation for leading the second expedition - in the novel, she is as big a player of Corporate Warfare as Travis and just as eager to find the diamonds; in the film, she explicitly states the mission is to find Charlie and the other missing team members.
Eye Scream: The leader of the first expedition is calling for his friend when something bounces off his chest. He picks it up and realises he's holding a severed eyeball.
Face Palm: Homolka's background reaction on hearing that Munro Kelly is going to be their guide.
Frickin' Laser Beams: Mostly averted; the laser has no recoil, travels immediately in a straight constant beam and produces deadly amounts of heat and cutting power. It does, however, include a visible beam, appears to cauterize wounds, and is powered by an unprocessed diamond that was chipped out of a rock literally seconds earlier. So basically all the cool parts without any of the hassle or overwhelming gore.
Great White Hunter: Somewhat straight in the novel, although really Munro Kelly is more of a Hired Mercenary type, and also half-Indian. The trope proper is spoofed in the film.
Munro: I'm your Great White Hunter for this trip, though I happen to be black.
Hollywood Skydiving: The parachute sequence. At least three team members - Peter, Richard, and Herkemer - have never parachuted before and receive no instructions before jumping. Munro is jumping with Amy strapped to him. And the plane is taking antiaircraft fire. Naturally, no one is injured on landing except for Munro, who got some minor scratches when Amy woke up mid-jump.
I Kiss Your Hand: When Dr Karen Ross holds out her hand for a handshake Captain Wanta raises it to his lips, only for her to yank back her hand.
I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Dr. Ross is trying to buy a place on Dr. Elliot's expedition and tells him to name his price. He retorts, "I'm not a pound of sugar, I'm a primatologist!"
Irony: Dr. Karen Ross pretends she used to work for the CIA but quit. Her "reason" being they're loveless bastards. However, her boss Travis turns out to be a "loveless bastard" because he cares more about the diamonds than the expedition teams, the first of which included his own son.
It Can Think: "I think they're smart — they're too damn smart." Even more apparent in the book where the apes use stone clubs and cross an electric fence by dropping a tree on it.
Oh Crap: In the novel Munro and his men go to exterminate the killer apes in their lair. They find a group and are preparing to wipe them out when Munro looks up...and realises the entire mountain is swarming with them.
Only Mostly Dead: According to the film, the Mizumu have different levels of dead (presumably including catatonia as a condition where the spirit has left the body [death] yet the body still breathes). Only the last level is dead-dead.
It's this way in the novel too, although the tribe in question there happen to be pygmies.
Properly Paranoid: Travis in the novel, as corporations are covertly fighting each other the way Cold War intelligence agencies used to. In the movie his paranoia is simply a sign of his general Jerkass nature.
Protagonist-Centered Morality: At the end of the movie, Dr. Ross destroys her company's satellite in payback for her boss putting the mission above her fiancée. Never mind that this would inevitably cause thousands of people to lose their jobs...
The company was floundering anyway and it was the midst of the dotcom boom. They probably all had their resumes prepared and had no real trouble finding employment afterward.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The expedition find themselves facing a pissed off silverback gorilla. Dr Elliot makes it leave by displaying submissive body language. Then he turns around to find everyone's disappeared into the foliage.
Elliot: Where did you go?
Munro: I ran away. Sorry.
Stealth Hi/Bye: A pair of Mizumu appear at the edge of the camp, and Munro tells Peter not to look at them, as they believe their magic keeps them from being seen before revealing themselves. He goes on to say that there are probably twenty more hiding around the camp, truly out of sight.
Talking Animal: Amy, thanks to the speaking glove. In the novel she just communicated with sign language.
Tantrum Throwing: After the first expedition is shown destroyed, Travis breaks a monitor with a golf club.
Super-Persistent Predator: As Elliott says in the plane, "gorillas aren't dangerous"... but these things certainly are. Because they aren't really predators, but a race of hyper-territorial gorillas bred by the people of Zinj in ancient times so they would eliminate any thief or spy. It's also implied that they are a experiment Gone Horribly Right that caused the very same downfall of the city.