King Kong (1976)

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Released 9-Nov-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 128:51 (Case: 130)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:45) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Guillermin
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jeff Bridges
Charles Grodin
Jessica Lange
John Randolph
Rene Auberjonois
Julius Harris
Jack O'Halloran
Dennis Fimple
Ed Lauter
Jorge Moreno
Mario Gallo
John Lone
Garry Walberg
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music John Barry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
Norwegian
Finnish
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    One of my favourite B-Grade popcorn flicks, Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong (1976) has finally made it to DVD. The perfect blend of summer blockbuster and tongue-in-cheek adventure, King Kong easily towers above many other B-Grade delights with its timeless and touching tale of unrequited love.

    Dino De Laurentiis is one of those love-him or hate-him Hollywood stalwarts, whose career as a producer stretches back into the 1940s. De Laurentiis has produced many of my favourite films, including La Strada (1954), Battle of the Bulge (1965), Serpico (1973), Death Wish (1974), Flash Gordon (1980), Conan the Barbarian (1982), Army of Darkness (1993), and U-571 (2000). Recently, he produced Hannibal (2001) and Red Dragon (2002), and he's currently producing the already-over-hyped Alexander the Great (2006).

    King Kong (1976) is but one in a long line of Kong films, which include the very forgettable King Kong vs Godzilla (1962) and King Kong Lives (1986). Based heavily on the original 1933 RKO stop-motion animation classic, King Kong tells a simple, but compelling story:

    The film opens with a US Oil Company ship leaving a port in Indonesia, bound for a remote and unexplored island, shrouded in mist and mystery. The island has only recently been discovered by a NASA spy satellite, and the oil company Petrox believes it's an untapped black-gold mine.

    The expedition is led by the opportunistic and deliciously dodgy Fred Wilson (brilliantly brought to life by Charles Grodin). However, two unexpected guests soon take centre-stage, stowaway idealistic scientist Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges), and the lovely Dwan (Jessica Lange), who is rescued from a life raft on the way to the island.

    Needless to say, when the ship arrives at the remote island, they discover far more than they bargained for . . .

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall, the transfer is quite good considering the age of the film.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is variable, and some scenes are quite soft, such as at 8:57. The shadow detail also varies, and at times, such as at 80:27, it's very poor.

    The colour appears dated, with orange/brown skin-tones and whites having a slight blue/grey tinge.

    I did not spot any serious MPEG artefacts, but the transfer is pretty grainy throughout, and at times the amount of film grain is distracting, such as at 60:06. There were no problems with film-to-video artefacts.

    As expected, film artefacts appear throughout, and while most are small, some are quite large. Some edge enhancement can also be spotted at times.

    There are Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish subtitles present on this dual-layered disc. The layer change is placed at 57:45.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Originally released theatrically with Magnetic Stereo, and remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD, the audio retains much of its original Stereo feel.

    The English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps) audio track is the only audio option.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are mostly okay, but at times the sync does slip slightly.

    The musical score is credited to the great John Barry, and his bombastic and dramatic orchestral style suits the film well. Notably, Barry also scored Zulu (1964), Out of Africa (1985), Dances With Wolves (1990), and provided music for many of the James Bond films.

    While the surround presence and activity is quite front-heavy, the rear speakers are used at times, for example during the tribal ceremony at 49:31. Generally it is the score that is piped to the rears.

    Surprisingly, the subwoofer gets little use, except for the odd moment such as the very deep bass effect when Kong is walking at 80:40.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras, not even a trailer.

Menu

    An animated menu with stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    King Kong (1976) was released on DVD in Region 1 way back in 1999.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    While the R1 has a trailer, the 1999 authored disc reportedly suffers from some MPEG artefacts. We also enjoy a PAL transfer, so I'm going to call it even.

Summary

    Okay, so there are some plot holes that King Kong (and his family all holding hands) could easily walk through. I, however, am happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy this adventure movie for what it is. The (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) doomed romance and ultimate demise of Kong is still touching, no matter how many times I watch it.

    The video quality is good for its age.

    The audio quality is also good, albeit quite front-heavy and dated.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Monday, November 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Watching Kong as an adult -
Spoiler alert? - REPLY POSTED
King Kong spawned Godzilla ? - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
Re: King Kong Spawned Godzilla -