Congo

on June 09, 1995 by Jean Oppenheimer
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   When will filmmakers learn that, without a good script, a movie is doomed to sink like Atlantis? Adapted by the usually reliable John Patrick Shanley ("Moonstruck") from the Michael Crichton novel, this tale of whites entering darkest Africa in search of ancient riches suffers from a preposterous set-up and even more ludicrous plot developments. The actors are saddled with feeble dialogue and silly motivations; even the dependable Ernie Hudson, adopting a Cary Elwes accent, fares poorly.
   Director Frank Marshall ("Alive") must shoulder most of the blame for this fiasco; what might have been high adventure akin to "Journey to the Center of the Earth" wanders around listlessly, in its befuddlement looking for anything--bits of "Benji," "Watusi" and "Gorillas in the Mist," plus some flashy technotrifles--to hold it together. As for the "bad" apes who serve as the chief villains, they may be foul-looking creatures (and so, supposedly, unsympathetic), but their gruesome deaths at film's end well merit the PG-13 warning for little tykes.    Starring Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh and Ernie Hudson. Directed by Frank Marshall. Written by John Patrick Shanley. Produced by Kathleen Kennedy. A Paramount release. Adventure. Rated PG-13 for jungle adventure terror and action and brief strong language. Running time: 109 min.
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