Headscratchers / Congo

  • So, they trained a gorilla to use sign language and built a machine to convert that to English. Fair enough. But then that sign language can be used to talk to wild gorillas? And it is the taught language because it simultaneously converts to English. So either the sign language was identical to natural gorilla communication, or someone taught those evil wild gorillas the sign language.
    • "SIT!" You get a bunch of creatures, breed them for (among other things) following human instructions, and they get understandably confused when something like them, or rather something like a generally nonconfrontational version of themselves, starts yelling at them in Squishy Pink Boss-man Language. It shows earlier that trying to get the gorillas to communicate with Amy without her teaching them first through gorillaspeak is ridiculous, when the regular gorillas are simply weirded out by Amy waving her hands and emitting odd noises. That doesn't explain why they still had the training ingrained into them so long after "Teachers" had all been killed.
    • Coco and Nim Chimpsky (a gorilla and a chimpanzee, respectively) did teach other apes the sign language they were told by humans at some point, so it's somewhat understandable that gorillas bred to follow orders from humans were the smartest of their kind and still passed the language they were originally taught by humans to their descendants long after the humans had disappeared. Why was that ancient African sign language so close to American Sign Language is still a very good question, though.
    • This is lampshaded in the original novel where it's noted that apes who've been taught sign language suffer from a form of Fantastic Racism, thinking wild apes are stupid because they can't talk to them.
    • It's also important to note that the actions Amy took that the hostile gorillas responded to weren't in sign language; they were in ape. Roaring, rushing, ground pounding, barking - these are all classic primate threat displays. Her cradling of Peter is also a universal action. Yes, she does sign - which her translator-collar-backpack conveniently translates for us - but it's unlikely that had any effect. The greys were probably just confused into inaction. (Kind of like if an infant started talking trash and threatening to kick your head in. It's not really a valid threat, but the sheer absurdity of it would make you pause for a bit.) The spell was going to wear off quickly, of course, but luckily for Amy and Peter, their Plot Armor held until the Frickin' Laser was ready to go.
    • The trope is also averted in the novel when it is revealed that Amy understands and can speak the grey gorillas' breathing language.
  • Why was the temple falling apart all of a sudden when the explorers arrived? I could get the lava flow later on, if the Super-Diamond refracto-powered laser had chopped up the ground, but I hadn't seen them do anything more than walk around early on, and the crumbling had started before they fired a single shot. For that matter, saying that the gorillas know what to do. If there hadn't been a flow like that since the temple was built, they wouldn;t know what to do. And that Headscratchers.
    • This is one of those little plot holes that appear when you change the original source material. In the novel, the eruption was triggered when Karen dynamitated a large area where she was expecting to find diamonds - she was the Corrupt Corporate Executive in the original story and a very unlikable character. They changed completely Karen's personality for the movie adaptation and as a result this incident had to be dropped because it did no longer make sense. Instead, they added an early line by Travis where he says that they've been monitoring the zone via satellite and that the hole area is about to blow up so they must act fast. Presumably, as per the movie verse, there have been quite a few earthquakes and eruptions around Zinj in recent times and the fact this one is so timely and so destructive is meant to be a pure coincidence. The characters might have considered the situation to not be as bad at first, hence their opinion that the gorillas might know what to do since they have survived all those previous quakes and eruptions.
    • It's not a plothole. It's specifically mentioned in the movie that the area is undergoing volcanic activity and is unstable. You just weren't paying attention.
      • Alright, not a plot hole but still a really Contrived Coincidence. The ancient city presumably survived thousands of eruptions during its long history of being sit near a volcano, but as soon as the movie characters arrive it is destroyed by the biggest eruption ever.
      • All writing works on contrived coincidence. "Oh, the diamonds we need just so happen to be in the one spot that's populated by horrific man-slaughtering ape-things!" At that point you're basically complaining that there's a plot and things happen.
      • That one's not a coincidence. The existence of the mine leads to the existence of the ancient city, and the existence of the ancient city causes both the interest of the company in the particular area (which is sparked by legends of the city's riches, at least in the novel) and the killer apes, which were bred as guards by the ancient city people to defend the mines.
      • Although this is an example of it, not all writing works on contrived coincidence. A hallmark of good fiction is a story assembled from natural elements, while nonfiction relies on real events. And if a work of fiction is less than natural, it's OK; that's why it's fiction, and not real life. Sometimes a story needs a little artistic license to get moving forward.
  • How many expendable black assistants did they HAVE?
    • In Africa, it's pretty trivial to hire entire companies of men and firepower, especially with the resources an American multimillion dollar communications company can bring to bear.
      • Really, that explanation could have just ended after "It's Africa."
      • Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) was and is the poorest country in Africa. Someone on minimum wage in the US made more in a week in 1995 than a Zairian would have made in a year.
  • How the hell did Richard die? It's too dark to get a good look at his wounds, and it just looks like he had a freak-out that somehow resulted in him being covered in blood.
    • There's some indication that he's got a load of internal injuries and he's just barely hanging on as it is. Then he sees Amy, freaks the hell out, and between the thrashing and the screaming he finishes tearing up his insides.
      • Internal injuries, exposure, shock, and then a sudden burst of intense terror which would have sent his heartrate and blood pressure skyrocketing. He had the perfect conditions for essentially dying of fright, yeah.
      • Uh, OP here. I was talking about Richard. You know, Peter's assistant who died after the group discovered the Temple, not the guy who died from shock after seeing Amy? Anyway, after rewatching the film, I do see that he did get ripped up pretty badly, but now that brings me to another question: As we see later on with Homloka, Kahega and the remaining Porters, these Gorillas tend to beat their victims to death and/or rip them apart, but Richard, while fatally wounded, was able to get away for a bit before dying. How was he able to get away from the Gorillas before he died, and how was he able to run with those fatal injuries?
      • They were toying with him for sadistic kicks and adrenaline, respectively.
      • He was only attacked by one gorilla, while the others were swarmed by a number of them.
      • Richard was also accompanied by two African porters that were killed in place. He just managed to slip by while the gorilla was dealing with them.
    • I'm pretty sure he dies of shock. He's half out of his mind with terror and collapses dead when Peter grabs him.
    • When we see him (which, admittedly, is in poor light and jerky camera movements, we can see several facial lacerations, substantial bleeding (which would be expected from any kind of scalp wound). He's moving erratically, nearly incoherent, and moving with difficulty. We can assume that, at a minimum, he's taken quite a few heavy blows to the head based on the damage we can see. Coupled with the effects of adrenaline shock and just plain pain, his blood pressure and heart rate are probably skyrocketing. With a serious enough beating to the head, he could have an intracranial bleed going on, which could very easily kill him abruptly and quickly. Enough body hits from something as strong as those gorillas could rupture his spleen or, even more likely, cause cardiac tamponade - his heart has ruptured and is bleeding into the pericardium (the sac the heart is in), which eventually squeezes the heart to the point where it cannot function. Given that he was attacked, ran an unknown distance, and was scared senseless, any degree of cardiac tamponade would kill him very quickly. Between the two, his drop-dead finale leans toward a stroke, but it's entirely plausible that it was several injuries that took him down.


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