Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day!: Konga

What is Independence Day about?  It's about American independence from the tyrannical rule of Britain and the establishment of our own country.  Obviously, this is an important day and should be treated with the proper respect.  With that out of the way, let's talk about a really bad movie.  What's the significance of this 49 year-old movie though?  Well, it's a British.  You want to know why it's so important that we separated from that island nation full of tea-drinkers?  Because they make shitty movies like this and we don't.  We make Mighty Joe Young and they make this knock-off.  You know what the best part is?  The film rights were bought up by American International Pictures, meaning that the Brits did all the work and some Americans got paid!  God Bless America!  As a bonus, this film stars Michael Gough, a man who helped an American company gross about a billion dollars with the Batman series.  So yeah, this movie is about a giant ape.  Let's just get to it, shall we?  Get out your Petrol for my all-American review of...
The film begins with a plane flying over a jungle before being overshadowed by a force-perspective explosion.  I hope there wasn't a Kennedy on board!  Through a long bit of silly exposition, we learn that a scientist (Gough) was on the plane and went missing.  I guess he wasn't in the fireball or this would just be a short film.  Within a minute or two, the film jumps to a year later and shows him returning to England.  He is greeted by some reporters, but he is coy with them.  He arrives at his lab and meets up with his red-headed assistant.  Sadly, it's not Lucille Ball- just a poor facsimile.  The woman is a bit rebuffed by him upon arrival, so she says something about it.  He apologizes and proceeds to show her the soil samples he took from the area, after he tosses out all of the old ones.  Happy Arbor Day, ladies and gentlemen!  One segue later and the plants have all grown up to full-size.  It turns out that the scientist is growing man-eating plants he took from the Amazon, including some weird bulb-shaped plants.  They all look really fake, by the way.  In the main lab, he mixes some weird goo into a different, green goo.  The cat laps up some of it, prompting the scientist to shoot the animal (off-camera).  Apparently, this stuff makes creatures grow.  Okay then. 

As it turns out, the main attraction to our protagonist is the little chimpanzee he took home with him as well.  By the way, get used to seeing chimpanzees this month, people.  He gives the thing an injection of the green fluid, causing the creature to go from a child to a teenage ape via a wipe and silly effects.  Basically, picture the wipe usually used in regards to dreams in movies and you get the idea.  In a bit of a side-plot, we get to see the scientist teaching a class.  Other than setting up the B-plot with the female student and her boyfriend, it adds jack shit.  After this, he has a talking-to from the Dean (not one of those funny ones) about some statements he made in an interview.  You really like to play fast and loose with time, don't you, movie?!?  Anyhow, he goes home and complains about this to his assistant.  Using his calm, analytical mind, he does the wise thing: he injects the monkey with more fluid and turns it into an ape.  Um, I don't chimpanzees become a different species when they grow up.  One silly scene later and the Dean is dead, strangled by an ape.  Apparently the cops can't figure out who did it.  Really?  Have you considered testing the ape hair that had to be left at the scene?!?  Damn Brits.

For the rest of the second act and all of the third, things get really silly.  After a field trip with the class, our doctor grows jealous of his female lab assistant's boyfriend, in spite of her choosing work over him.  He sneaks up on the 'teen' and chokes him in a park...because that's plausible.  At a party for all of the teachers and assorted faculty, Mr. Gough runs into an 'Indian' man who talks about doing similar research to his own, so he sets him up for the ape to kill him too.  Meanwhile, the assistant is feeling rebuked and tries to turn the ape to her side.  She does this the same way Gough did by swinging a flashlight in front of the ape.  For no apparent reason, she injects with a ton more of the fluid, causing it to grow gigantic.  Oh yeah, this also sets off a fire for some reason.  In one of the film's silliest effects, the man in the ape suit picks up a toy with a red wig and throws it against the wall.  Yeah, that was convincing.  The ape crashes through the roof and stomps into the city.  Before he heads out, however, he runs across Gough trying to rape the student in his room full of carnivorous plants.  The beast picks up Gough and makes his way into London.  Keep your eye out of the Petrol station if you doubt that this is really set in London.  The cops and military show up within minutes (why) and proceed to fire everywhere except in the direction of the ape before it tosses Gough down, dies and turns back into the chimp-form.  Sure, why not?

This movie is really, really dumb.  I mean, it's a pretty blatant knock-off of all the other killer ape films that preceded it.  Do the words 'Mighty,' 'Joe,' and 'Young' ring a bell?  The plot is silly, involving a scientist that goes crazy and a chimpanzee that becomes a gorilla.  That's more ape confusion than a man should be subjected to!  The acting is alright, at least as far is comes to Gough.  Obviously, the guy has a soft spot in my heart on account of him being Alfred in the Batman films that I grew up on.  As far as this film goes, his character is just so stock and cliche that he really doesn't have much to do.  Nothing that happens in this movie is something that you haven't seen in other movies.  To the film's credit, there are one or two shots of Gough in the monster's grip that actually look decent.  Of course, for all of those, there's a dozen shots of a guy wearing a really obvious ape costume.  With all of that said, if you want to see 'Alfred' make a giant ape that attacks London, I think that this is the only one.  It's not good, but it is a sight to see.  Take me away, man in an ape suit holding a doll...

Up next, I celebrate my Birthday with a review that's guaranteed to be different than anything you've seen yet.  Intrigued?  Stay tuned...

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