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Flamboyant, foolhardy documentary filmmaker, Carl Denham, sails off to remote Skull Island to film his latest epic with leading lady, Ann Darrow. Native warriors kidnap Ann to use as a sacrifice as they summon "Kong" with the local witch doctor. But instead of devouring Ann, Kong saves her. Kong is eventually taken back to New York where he searches high and low for Ann, eventually winding up at the top of the Empire State Building, facing off against a fleet of World War I fighter planes.
For more about King Kong and the King Kong Blu-ray release, see King Kong Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on January 16, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Andy Serkis
» See full cast & crew
King Kong Blu-ray Review
The Eighth Wonder of the World!
Reviewed by Ben Williams, January 16, 2009
The King Kong films have a long and storied history in Hollywood. From Merian Cooper's & Ernest Shoedshack's original 1933 classic and the unfortunate 1976 Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange remake, to the various incarnations of Mighty Joe Young, Kong and his brethren have been in the public consciousness throughout the development of cinema. Somehow, as technology and special effects have improved over the years, it seems that someone is always keen to showcase the industry's latest developments by making a more realistic giant ape. Enter Director Peter Jackson; fresh from his massive success with the Lord of the Rings films, he chose King Kong to be a showcase release for his Weta Digital effects house. What followed was a film that, while impressive at times, didn't quite live up to the hype and promise that Mr. Jackson's previous films had built with audiences. As one of Universal's many catch-up titles, King Kong finally arrives on Blu-ray. Was it worth the wait?
Vaudevillian actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is struggling to find work in the wake of the great depression. A chance meeting with a down-and-out film director by the name of Carl Denham (Jack Black) lands her a role in his next film. Carl has conned his way into arranging for a cast and crew, chartered a ship and has informed his production team that they are steaming to Singapore for a location shoot. Little do they know that Carl has set his sites on the mysterious Skull Island; a foreboding place where natives and strange creatures lurk. Screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) takes a liking to Darrow and by the time the ship arrives at Skull Island; romance is blooming between the two. Unfortunately for them as well as the rest of the crew, their fortunes take a turn for the worst as the entire group is savagely attacked by natives and scattered across the island. Darrow is offered to Kong, a massive Ape-like creature who immediately becomes smitten with the blonde actress, as a human sacrifice. As the rest of the crew make their way back to the ship and attempt to rescue Darrow, a variety of strange creatures will test their survival instincts. Can they rescue Darrow and get back to the safety of their ship, or does Denham have other plans for the giant ape?
King Kong has become something of a polarizing film for many movie fans. Hardly any two fans agree on the movie and it has generated a wide variety of opinions and emotions. I've seen the film on half a dozen occasions since its release and still can't quite make out what the point of the remake is. Sure, there are some great effects, the acting is solid and there are a lot of amazing scenes in the film, but it has never gelled into a coherent experience. King Kong is, for all intents and purposes, a series of finely crafted action scenes, a few nice dramatic moments and a whole lot of boring filler thrown in. Perhaps Mr. Jackson was getting in a bit over his head by turning what was, in it's original incarnation in 1933, a 104 minute film, into a story that goes on for well over three full hours. This is one LONG movie. Of course, that's not to say that the basic "Beauty and the Beast" story of King Kong has been lost in this version, it's just that it has been almost completely buried by all the meaningless and lengthy setup that causes the audience to just about give up on the film before Kong ever even appears on screen.
What's good about King Kong? The action scenes are wonderfully choreographed and feature some remarkable CGI effects. Kong's seemingly endless fight with a pack of T- Rexes is often breathlessly thrilling to experience. Andy Serkis (Gollum from the Lord of the Rings films) also does a fantastic job of breathing life into Kong and giving his CGI- rendered performance a truly human depth. As I stated earlier, all of the acting is top notch as well. Does it all add up to a coherent film? I don't believe it does, but I'm sure others feel differently. King Kong certainly has a built-in audience. For them, this Blu-ray is a no-brainer and a must buy. For everyone else, give it a rent and be sure to brew a pot of strong coffee.
King Kong Blu-ray, Video Quality
King Kong finally makes its way to Blu-ray featuring a VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Fans can breathe a sigh of relief, as the transfer is phenomenal. The film features a rich color palette that is both vibrant and slick during the film's New York scenes, while retaining a nice earthy tone during scenes taking place on Skull Island. The entire film displays a wonderful sense of depth that often will often leave viewers slackjawed in amazement. The film is a true sight to behold on Blu-ray and easily ranks among the best transfers the format has seen.
Contrast is exceptionally rendered with deep and accurate black levels and whites that never bloom. Detail is also extraordinary; the film just overflows with skin, fabric and landscape textures that add tremendous weight to this exemplary transfer. I was equally impressed with the lifelike nature of the image. The whole film just feels alive. King Kong has been an eagerly anticipated title on Blu- ray. It's gratifying to see Universal bestow such a phenomenal transfer on the film. King Kong is a reference quality transfer that will be used as demo material for years to come. Highly recommended!
King Kong Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Given that King Kong was an Academy Award winning film in the sound department, anything less than a stellar soundtrack would be a disappointment with this Blu-ray release. Fear not, however, as King Kong is a purely reference grade sound experience. Presented in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround, the film is an aural delight that will astound listeners with an abundance of directional, ambient and subwoofer effects. It's a remarkable achievement that highlights the work of the many talented professionals who helped to create it.
King Kong is a "brute-force" soundtrack. Every action scene bristles with gut- punching bass and directional activity that combines to create a hard-hitting and window- shattering experience. Every punch, roar, broken tree and piece of ripped flesh in the film is as crystal clear and obvious as each spoken line. This soundtrack manages to balance the two elements into a truly flawless experience that is sure to wake the neighbors and set off a civil defense warning. Prepare to be amazed in just how perfect this film sounds. King Kong is as good as it gets in the audio department and is highly recommended.
King Kong Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
-Extended Edition Audio Commentary with Director Peter Jackson and writer Phillippa Boyens
-Conceptual Art Galleries
-Picture-in-picture Extended Edition Cast & Crew Interviews
-BD Live "My Scenes"
The most important element, as far as extras go on this Blu-ray release, is the inclusion of both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film. Clocking in at 188 minutes for the theatrical edition and a whopping 200 minutes for the extended version, there is certainly plenty of King Kong goodness here for all to enjoy. The included commentary track, PiP track and art galleries only work when played in conjunction with the extended edition of the film. The commentary, featuring Director Peter Jackson and writer Phillippa Boyens, is a thoroughly detail oriented experience where both go to great lengths to explain the more technical aspects of the films production. Frankly, it was fairly boring and a bit tiring given the film's length. The cast and crew Picture-in-Picture feature recycles interviews with various cast members and key crew members to accent some of the action on screen. Finally, the interactive art gallery displays the film's conceptual art as it relates to what's on screen at the time. None of this is particularly compelling content, but I'm sure fans of the film will find something to enjoy.
King Kong Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
King Kong is a frustrating movie. There is so much that I like about the movie, yet the film's extended running time as well as its numerous boring and lengthy passages make the film hard to digest. Fortunately, the film has been given the royal treatment on Blu-ray and features reference grade audio and video. Supplements are lacking, but the disc does include both the theatrical and the director's cut of the film. Fans of King Kong will be floored by this release and will likely snap up copies in record numbers. Recommended.
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King Kong Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - January 20th - January 20, 2009
In the heat of the format war, a great deal of emphasis was placed on player prices, an area where the rival HD DVD format had somewhat of an advantage. Highlighting that advantage was the Microsoft Xbox 360 HD DVD Add-on, which came packaged with one of the most ...
• King Kong Announced for Blu-ray - November 11, 2008
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring Peter Jackson's remake of 'King Kong' to Blu-ray on January 20th. The film will be presented in both theatrical and extended versions in 2.35:1 1080p video accompanied by a 5.1 DTS-HD Master ...
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