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Congo (1995)

Congo. Feature film. (1995, 109 mins) IMDB

...Why is CONGO such a bad movie?...


he question isn't: is this good or bad film? The question to answer is: why is this a bad film? It struck me very early in watching it, that I wasn't going to have fun watching this film and I didn't.

There are two elements to consider. The dialogue and plot.

On the plot, it's paint by numbers. Because three diverse groups have to hook up as one to make a trek from the US to the darkest part of Central Africa, the story creates these ridiculous scenes. Does Dr. Ross really have to plead to get onboard a charter flight leaving the US? No, but the film wants them together and so that's what happens. That's just one of many examples.

The ending makes no sense. The climax happens well before the end and they escape in a hot air balloon!

So much of the story makes no sense, isn't the least bit believable and truly ridiculous. It's painful to think about it.

Then there is the dialogue. It's filled with boring exposition. In an attempt to liven it up, melodramatic conflict is added. Errrrr!

One bright spot was Joe Pantoliano's small role as a hustler at the airport. Too bad he didn't have a larger role.

I still haven't answered my question. Why is CONGO a bad film? It's based on a book by Michael Crichton. That's a good start. The screenplay is credited to John Patrick Shanley. He's a top notch playwright and screenwriter, but I suspect his strengths aren't with action-adventure movies and it's difficult to know how much of what he wrote ended up in the screen. How much did the producers, director, studio execs and actors change or have changed?

Here's the other twist. There are lots of special effects movies and action-adventure movies with weak dialogue and ridiculous plots, but there's a certain level of entertainment in them that make them enjoyable--not great films, but enjoyable. CONGO is neither.

At this point, I'm only guessing at why it's such a bad movie. Too many characters with hero potential. Stick to one. Perhaps. No clear objective--at least one that's worthy of being in a film. The story should have been designed better with a clear focus on Dr. Ross.

I can't pinpoint it and maybe that's it. There are many wrong elements in this film, not just one.

The other question: how did this script get made? I can understand wanting to make a film based on Crichton's book, but why this version?

Posted 2009/03/10 at 19h25ET in Movie Commentary.


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