King Kong (Blu-ray)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Colin Hanks, Thomas Kretschmann
Directed by Peter Jackson
Distributed by Universal Home Video
If you have any doubts as to why Kong is king, all you have to do is watch the double T. rex fight in this movie. Get back to me after you've picked your jaw up off the floor.
In 2005 Kong ruled the theatres and home video. Peter Jackson's epic telling of this timeless tale was a stirring, off-the-rails thrill ride whose only fault was being a little too sappy at times. I could have done without the ice skating scene in New York City, that's for sure. Other than that? It was wall-to-wall giant movie monster mayhem! The flick makes me feel like a kid again so to say I'm a fan is a bit of an understatement.
Still, the question beckons: How does the Blu-ray stack up to prior releases? Does it get a fitting treatment? Yes and no. Before we get into all that, though, let me state that there are two versions of King Kong to enjoy here -- the theatrical cut, which runs about three hours and eight minutes, and the extended cut, which runs about three hours and twenty minutes. Each looks and sounds astonishingly incredible.
If one look at the quality of the video here doesn't instantly wow you, then you, my friend, are void of a pulse. The detail in the image is almost impossible. From Kong's fur to Dino's scales to the lush jungles to Watts' strikingly blue eyes ... this is what high-definition movie watching is all about! The colors are vibrant enough to leap off the screen while the shades of black are deliciously inky and deep. Words simply do not do it justice. This has to be seen to be truly appreciated.
And the sound? One roar from the mighty behemoth that is Kong will be enough to set your home theatre system on fire. The new 5.1 DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio track is probably the best sounding audio track I've heard for a film on Blu-ray yet. There's not a lick of distortion to be heard anywhere no matter how loud the action gets, and the attention to stereo separation employed in this mix is nothing short of amazing.
There's not a doubt in my mind that this is the best looking and sounding Blu-ray I have ever seen and heard. Textbook quality stuff, and well worth the upgrade price if all you have are the DVD versions. The only trouble? I wouldn't be throwing away those aforementioned DVD's any time soon because they still are where the lion's share of the supplemental material for this flick can be found.
King Kong on Blu-ray, just like the old, now defunct HD-DVD disc, is void of nearly all of the extras found on the stellar three-disc DVD set of the extended cut. Considering these features are already made and just waiting to be slapped onto a disc, their exclusion is puzzling to say the least. We do get a taste of what's missing though.
Throughout the extended version of the film only, you can utilize Universal's U-Control option. This means that you'll be prompted to hit a button that will bring up a picture-in-picture window that's home to various art galleries, video commentaries, interviews, and behind-the-scenes stuff. As robust as these tidbits of information are, and as cool as it is to be able to access them on the fly, it's still not as fulfilling as having the hours and hours of material that's been left behind at our fingertips.
Other than that (also on the extended version only), there's an audio commentary with Peter Jackson and co-writer/co-producer Philippa Boyens. You have just got to give it to these two. Nearly three and a half hours is a long time to have to talk, but there's not an instance of dead air to be found anywhere on this track. My only complaint? Things get a little too technical at times, and as a result I'm sure there will be lots of casual fans out there who'll get kind of bored by the endless chatter.
The disc is also B-D Live enabled so if you don't wanna watch the whole movie again, feel free to just assemble your favorite moments and share them with friends! There! My ice skating problem is now fixed!
Universal should be commended for the time and attention paid toward making both versions of this film look and sound superb. They really hit it out of the park, but the exclusion of so much bonus material leaves a bit of an empty void lingering out there. But that shouldn't stop you from picking up this edition. From fans to high-def junkies -- you need this!
5 out of 5
3 out of 5
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