At last, Peter Jackson's homage and updated re-envisioning of the classic film, "KING KONG," is now available on blu-ray! Previously available in theatrical version on HD-DVD and on dvd in both theatrical and extended versions, UNIVERSAL has wisely chosen to release "KING KONG" with the option to view either version via seamless branching for this blu-ray release.
One might wonder how an already great film that ran under 100 minutes, could be extended to a running time almost doubled in length, without feeling padded. Well, Jackson does it flawlessly! While the longer film allows for the kind of scenic exploration and elaborate effects one expects from the maker of the "LORD OF THE RINGS" trilogy, there's a great deal of character development as well. Jack Black is magnificent in the role of the shameless self-promoting film maker, Carl Denham. And, while his role could've easily been successfully entertaining as just a cartoonish nemesis giving comic-relief, Black provides a fair share of side-splitting lines, but much more as well. Naomi Watts, in the Fay Wray role, Ann, is also remarkable, lending the required beauty and emotion making her affection for the giant Ape, something palpable and contagious. The other cast members, including Adrian Brody as the screenwriter brought along for the production, as well as the love interest of Watts' character, are all good, but are less developed than Ann and Carl, but it suits the film just fine.
Even at 187 minutes (or 201 minutes for extended version), the film never feels dull. Jackson's filmmaking sensibilities create a stirring epic-like feel, with great pacing, and a beautiful atmosphere that immerses the viewer into the magical film in a way few films have achieved, and even fewer films blending the fantastic with reality.
While there are a couple of sequences that may be too disturbing for the youngest viewers, "KING KONG" is a great family film in much the same way as the original "RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK." While it was hard to determine which scenes were added for the extended version, this version was preferred, but one couldn't go wrong watching either.
UNIVERSAL has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/VC-1 blu-ray. From beginning to end, the colors are as rich as one could hope for on blu-ray. Detail is spectacular in virtually every scene, with the kind of "jump-off-the-screen" depth one expects on blu-ray. Contrast is also flawless, allowing for continued mind-boggling detail in the darkest scenes occurring in the jungle and at night, due to inky blacks. While the incredible detail also makes some of the CGI effects stand out more as "CGI" in some scenes, even these instances don't diminish the wowing impact of the film.
UNIVERSAL has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, creating a major upgrade over the Dolby Digital Plus mix found on HD-DVD and Dolby Digital found on dvd. The mix is one of the most aggressive available on blu-ray, and while surrounds are continuously employed, the effect always enhances the imagery at hand, and never feels heavy-handed. A beautiful score, discrete and thunderous bass, all blend together seamlessly, without overshadowing the dialogue. A REFERENCE QUALITY SOUNDMIX!
UNIVERSAL has provided a running commentary with Jackson and his co-writer/co-producer. It's an exciting commentary, lending insight into all aspects of the production, and, most importantly, entertaining in its entire duration!
U-Control allows for picture-in-picture commentary as well as art galleries, but only on the extended version of the film.