Friday, February 17, 2017

Michael Crichton Week: Congo

Day 3 of Michael Crichton Week brings about a less flattering one of his looser translated books. The offbeat attitude of the film is a bit more humor than the novel but it felt like the forced zany of the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies. This is Congo.

Damn teleconference!

An expedition for a telecommunications corporation TraviCom, employees Charles Travis (Bruce Campbell of The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Icebreaker, Jack of All Trades, Spider-Man, Sky High, Burn Notice and Ash vs Evil Dead) and Jeff Weems (Taylor Nichols of Barcelona, Boiler Room, Jurassic Park III, Black Mail, Hide Away, Freeloaders, Possessions and Godzilla) have made their discovery, a blue diamond that will boost their satellite signals 100 times over. To celebrate, they call TraviCom to boast the good news showing video and audio link when they realize the rest of their expedition team are dead and then...silence.


Meanwhile back at TraviCom HQ Karen Ross (Laura Linney of Searching for Bobby Fischer, Primal Fear, Absolute Power, The Truman Show, You Can Count on Me, Mystic River, Love Actually, Man of the Year and The Nanny Diaries) is desperate to regain contact with the expedition via remote to pan around the remains of the team, their supplies and tents. Ross bolts to get ahold of CEO and Charles' dad, R.B. Travis (Joe Don Baker of Guns of the Magnificent Seven, Walking Tall, Golden Needles, Mitchell, The Pack, The Shadow Chikara, Final Justice, The Living Daylights, Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies) who is concerned about his son and party and Ross offers to lead to a new team to find Charles ASAP.

Meanwhile Dr. Elliot (Dylan Walsh of Congo, Nip/Tuck, The Lake House, NCIS: New Orleans and Unforgettable) a primatologist teaching a young gorilla named Amy sign language and she has this cobbled backpack with a portable battery pack that helps her translate her sign language to English so she can be the first to offer communications from primates to humans. And I thought all you need bananas and chest beating. Naturally the upper one percenters, college alumni and philanthropists doesn't seem interested in Elliot's request. A Romanian name of Herkermer Homolka (Tim Curry of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Legend, Clue, Fish Police, FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Muppet Treasure Island, Voltron: The Third Dimension and Family Affair) offers to pay to take young Amy and the doc out to the Congo and Ross joins them in the trek.

Grr.  I guess.  Whatever.

While in Africa (Costa Rica regions and Kenya) the team meets up Munro Kelly (Ernie Hudson of Human Tornado, Highcliffe Manor, White Mama, Ghostbusters, The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, The Last Precinct, The Crow, Levitation, Shark Attack, Miss Congeniality, Oz and Everything's Jake) to lead them in the deep jungles but they got scooped up by a militia captain name of Wanta (Delroy Lindo of Beauty and the Beast, A Man Called Hawk, Bright Angel, The Hard Way, Malcolm X, Clockers, Broken Arrow, Romeo Must Die, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Heist, The Last Castle, Sahara, Domino and Point Break) capturing the lot of them and offering his services for an mildly obscene fee. Heading to a Lost City of Zinj next to this fabled diamond mine the expedition's camp is completely wrecked and a grey gorilla had clearly had been slaughtering outlanders left and right.

Will the team find Charles still alive? What is the significance of the gorilla and this lost city? 

The gorillas are practical effect bodysuits and fairly strong stuntmen for that rather than the lesser CGI. Bruce Campbell originally auditioned for Dr. Elliot but ended up with Charles Travis role instead. The volcano was actually an active volcano called Volcan Arenal, in Costa Rica. The funniest fact is the pilot of 727 was played by none other Jimmy Buffett

Truly my accent is what keeps this film together.