I haven't read the book, and one person I went with assured me that there was little resemblance between book and film. Be that as it may, the movie really sucked the wet farts out of dead pigeons. Most characters were dumb and/or annoying, the dialogue was pretty poor (not to mention predictable; "Okay," I thought, "this is the part where Ernie Hudson's character says, 'We'd better get out of here,' then pauses dramatically and adds, 'as fast as we can!'" Two seconds later, sure enough, that's what he says and how he says it), and a lot of the acting was weak.
Tim Curry put in what may be the most embarrassing role of his career. He's been known to be serious, or he's hammed/camped it up to a ridiculous degree. Here, he puts on one of the worst Romanian accents you're likely to hear and makes a complete ass of himself. The entire audience chortled every time he spoke.
The movie had its moments. For one thing, the lead character is a woman, played by Laura Linney (who starred in PBS' Tales from the City adaptation). This woman -- Dr. Ross -- is a really good action hero, and, unlike the vast majority of women in action films, doesn't have to be protected by the men (quite the opposite, actually), isn't protecting a child, and gets the snide action-movie lines. (Like when they're flying over Zaire, and everyone starts getting ready to bail out 'cause they're being shot at. One of the other scientists asks, "Why is everyone putting on parachutes?" She bellows in reply, "Figure it out!")
In addition, Ernie Hudson is magnificent. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time he was one of the few saving graces of an otherwise putrid film.
Some small roles also have some bite, including the military general they have to bribe to get passage, and Joe Pantoliano (who played Cosmo Renfro, the bearded guy who got clubbed in the head at the climax of The Fugitive) as a short mousy guy who helped Ernie Hudson's character.
But the compliments end there. Any movie that has Joe Don Baker in it is cause for worry, but at least his role is small. Bruce Campbell is wasted in a half-second cameo. And, most importantly, there's no reason to give a hoot in hell about anything that happens in this movie. None. Zero. Ross is going to the congo to find out what happened to an expedition that was massacred, but she has to be attached to another expedition -- run by a college professor who, with his colleague, are bringing a talking gorilla back home so she can talk to other gorillas -- in order for the Visas to be legit. The reason for this is never explained. Aside from "it's necessary to the plot," we're never given adequate reason why Ross has to attach herself to the gorilla trip. Since the whole plot hinges on this particular concatination of people, it doesn't work. While the climax has some great volcano effects, the payoff is minimal.
I saw this movie for free. It was overpriced.
[First posted on the "Keith R.A. DeCandido [KEITH.D]" topic on Genie on 9 June 1995.]
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