King Kong - Extended Cut DVD: Review By Kaya Savas

An amazing accomplishment on Peter Jackson's part enjoys some added footage and some incredible special features
  • OVERALL
    5.0
    SUPERB
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
An amazing accomplishment on Peter Jackson's part enjoys some added footage and some incredible special features
THE BAD
The DVD overall is a solid package, I guess the only problem is the cheap design on Universal's part for the DVD packaging.
THE FEATURE
When Peter Jackson brought his idea of King Kong to the movie studios back in 1996 he was quickly denied it. So, in the mean time he did three small films, you may have heard of them, they were about some ring or something like that. Universal came back to Jackson and said that if he still wanted to do it that he could. The result is one of the most awe inspiring films of all time. It's seriously hard to describe the scope of a film like this version of King Kong. We all know the story, I mean the script is 72 years old. Carl Denham, an eccentric filmmaker, is about to be finished because his producers are fed up with his recent flops. He decides that he's going to make a grand epic by exploring the uncharted and mythical Skull Island. He lures Vaudville actress, Ann Darrow who is reduced to stealing food because she can't find work. Jackson creates the perfect atmosphere of an America during the depression and we get this sense of desperation on both Denham's and Ann's part. On the boat Ann meets Jack Driscoll, her favorite playwright who is writing Denham's screenplay. They find Skull Island unexpectedly in the fog and in an incredible scene the ship tries to maneuver from the jagged rocks of the island wall. Once on shore the characters encounter the natives who kidnap Ann and give her as human sacrifice to Kong, who lives on the other side of a massive wall.

Most of the film takes place on the island as the entire group tries to rescue Ann. The island has an atmosphere that is just undescribable. It's absolutely wonderous, and the scale is just immense. The brontosaurus stampede through the canyon is incredible. The visual effects are amazing in the film, and Jackson seamlessly blends visuals with sets to make it work. Later on Kong protects Ann as she tries to escape three Tyrannosauruses. The sequence is breathtaking, and you will watch with your jaw dropped as these giant beasts fight to the death. Another sequence is the spider pit scene, which was not in the original but is reportedly a lost scene. It never made it into the final cut of the 1933 version, but it is here in full glory. The most vile insects imaginable blown up to a huge scale will make you cringe into your seat. Everything is done to the extreme, but not to a point where the audience says "oh that's impossible, that would never happen", well maybe it's impossible but it's fantasy, so lighten up. Nothing is too extreme to a point of implausibility. The greatest thing about this version is the emotion, the connection between Kong and Ann that was hard to absorb from the original. We see a connection of two souls, a lonely beast who is the last of his kind, and a women who has been thrown out on the street. It's a love for one another's presence and Jackson handled that with expertise.

The film has a shift in tone once we leave Skull Island, and Kong is captured and brought back to New York. We go from this incredible land of mystery to the city where Kong is put on display. Carl Denham has saved himself and thinks he is back on the top, which is all he cares about. Once Kong escapes and rampages through New York City looking for Ann we start an emotional ride all the way to the end. The moment Ann and Kong ascend the Empire State Building you start to anticipate the inevitable end. You watch as Kong basically climbs to his doom just to spend one last sunrise alone with Ann. After a poignant scene at the top there is the shot of the biplanes coming in from behind the building and it sends unnerving chills down your spine. The film's climax is stunning, one of the grandest most iconic scenes of cinematic history recreated through the mind of a master. James Newton Howard's score adds an emotional boost to Peter Jackson's poignant and epic vision. The movie is more than a visual effects romp, it is a truly beautiful story expressed in such a way that it will leave a grand mark on you as a movie goer. This new version has 13 minutes of restored footage, mostly stuff that is a homage to the original like the underwater escape off of the rafts.

Jack Black plays the overly eccentric Carl Denham with perfection. His reaction, as he stands in the auditorium after Kong escapes into the city, sends a message that this character has basically brought upon is own demise. Naomi Watts plays her role mostly through screaming and through facial expressions, and she does a fantastic job interacting with a character who was digitally added in later. Andy Serkis did the motion capture for Kong, just as he did the acting for Gollum. His facial expressions and body movements give Kong a human presence, and it helps with the emotional connection of the two characters. Jackson even gave Serkis a side role in the film as Lumpy the cook, which I thought was great too. Adrien Brody plays Jack, who I think never comes to realize the connection Ann has with Kong and he feels distant from the audience as a character.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary:

The special features are spread across all three discs. The first thing you'll find is the great commentary by Peter Jackson, which is incredibly informative and on par with the Lord Of The Rings commentaries.

Deleted Scenes:

The next thing on the set are the deleted scenes, and there are a whole lot of deleted scenes. The visuals are unfinished, but it's interested to see what was left out of the already 3.5 hour extended edition.

The Eighth Blunder Of The World:

Next on disc 1 is the blooper reel, and this is probably one the best blooper reels I've seen on a DVD. It's pretty long and incredibly funny, and it just shows that Jack Black is funny no matter where he is. On disc 1 there is also a hidden featurette that is extremely funny, it's not hard to find at all.

Re-Creating The Eighth Wonder- The Making Of King Kong:

Moving on to disc 2 we have the incredible making of doc*mentary. You can watch the whole thing together, or in the separate segments. There is an introduction by Peter Jackson and he explains that nothing here is repeated from the Production Diaries or the previous DVD. There is some really interesting stuff here, and all film students or film buffs need to watch it. The entire filmmaking process is shown in great detail from pre-production to post.

Return To Skull Island:

There is also a featurette on recreating Skull Island and how the filmmakers wanted it to make it look like the same Skull Island from the original version.

Pre-Visuals, Video Gallery of Concept Drawings, DVD-ROM Content, Trailers:

There are also a bunch of animated pre-visuals (basically takes the place of storyboards), and a video gallery which shows the concept drawings in montage form. Finally, you can load the third disc into your DVD drive and view the original 1996 script that Jackson cooked up just have it shot down by Universal, then you can compare it with the final version for the 2005 version. An amazing supplement of features is topped off with three trailers.
THE VIDEO
King Kong looks absolutely stunning. This new version is pretty much the same transfer as the previous release. King Kong is a film with some sort of special effect in nearly every shot, so this transfer needs to look great. Color tones are right on the money, black levels are handled well, and the picture is overall incredibly sharp.
THE AUDIO
The sound is again Dolby Digital 5.1, and some are asking "where is the DTS?". While this film would have been spectacular with DTS the Dolby Digital is only a hair behind. Simply, the sound is explosive and dynamic. Ambient noise is effectively spread across all channels to envelope you. The canyon stampede is probably the best sounding scene in the film. Don't dwell on the fact that there is no DTS, the Dolby track is very impressive.
THE PACKAGE
Apparently studios are getting cheaper with DVD sets. The 3-Disc set comes in a transparent DVD case. When you open it up you have disc 1 on the left panel and the other two discs overlapping on the right panel. The insert slides over the first disc, a truly horrible design. The case comes in a basic slipcase that has a front flap with some descriptions of the bonus features. Cheap design in my opinion, nothing like New Line's Lord Of The Rings Extended Editions.
THE FINAL WORD
"It wasn't the airplanes, it was Beauty killed the beast." When our generation watches the original King Kong we see a clay gorilla walking on miniature sets. When Peter Jackson watches the original King Kong he sees everything that we see in his film today. Every filmmaker has their one source of inspiration, and King Kong was his. I'm glad he shared it with us. We go to the theater for films like this and even though it is the second remake of this story, Peter Jackson has brought this film a new life and made it his film. It is truly a wonderful, exciting, heartfelt, and touching homage made for modern times.

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