King Kong (1933) (Blu-ray)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot
Directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack (the original King Kong co-directed by Merian C. Cooper)
Released by Warner Home Video
There are few pleasures on Earth quite like watching a timeless classic of a film. For the first time ever the original King Kong has finally come home to Blu-ray, and Warner Home Video is not monkeying around when it comes to their treatment and respect of this film.
Kong, for all his ferocity, is one of the most beloved figures in cinema. Originally released in 1933, King Kong grabbed moviegoers by storm as it showcased for its time some of the most amazing effects in movie history. There's no denying the magic and wonder one feels the very first time that Old Brown Eyes makes his first onscreen appearance. Whether you're an adult or a child, you will find yourself staring wide-eyed at the screen as Kong battles dinosaurs, eats up the locals, and of course climbs the tallest building in the world to knock around a few planes.
There's a reason that this film is the success that it is. It wasn't just the directorial talent of Schoedsack or the writing skill of Merian C. Cooper that elevated King Kong to its legendary film status. I attribute that feat mostly to the genius of the special effects. Willis O'Brien's stop-motion effects gave birth to dreams that have since launched the careers of F/X legends such as Ray Harryhausen. Kong, though animated, displayed an unequaled range of emotion. You can feel his rage ... and his tenderness. He was a leading man that stole our hearts, and he still grips them in his large furry paw to this day.
Truthfully, I could go on forever singing the praises of this film and the rest in the series, but we're here to talk about the Blu-ray so let's get to it!
This set does not disappoint in the slightest. King Kong comes packaged with a 32-page booklet featuring rare photographs and trivia written by film historian Rudy Behlmer, who apparently personally interviewed Kong creator Merian C. Cooper back in the day, and the Blu-ray is brimming with special features, but before we get to them, let me say this: Even considering the last restored DVD release, this film have never looked or sounded better but only slightly better than its standard definition cousin. For a film of this age, there's just not much more you can do picture and sound wise. My hat is off to the responsible parties, though. The film still looks stunning!
Now then, back to the extras. There's a boatload, but they've all been recycled from the DVD release from a while back and are presented here mostly in standard definition. One of the showcases is a truly heartfelt commentary by Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston with Merian C. Cooper and Fay Wray. To hear these legends speak is nothing short of captivating. Along with that you'll find a seven-part making-of that includes an exploration of the now infamous missing spider pit sequence and even some really early test footage with a commentary by Harryhausen. There is no stone that is left unturned in this walk through King Kong's legacy, and the time and attention that are paid to every detail make this Blu-ray release an absolute must have.
All the classic giant monster mayhem that fueled my youth is here in stunning detail. The bottom line is that if you're a fan of giant monster films, this is the granddaddy of them all. Kong is still very much King.
-- The Origins of "King Kong"
-- Willis O'Brien and "Creation"
-- Cameras Roll on Kong, The Eighth Wonder
-- A Milestone in Visual Effects
-- Passion, Sound and Fury
-- The Mystery of the Lost "Spider Pit" Sequence
-- King Kong's Legacy
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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