King Kong: 2-Disc Special Edition (2005)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The Volkswagen Touareg & King Kong
Trailer-Advert: Wish You Were Here
Featurette-Post Production Diaries #55 - #90
Featurette-Skull Island: A Natural History
Featurette-Kong's New York, 1933
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Peter Jackson|
Universal Pictures Home Video
James Newton Howard
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Peter Jackson's treatment of this epic tale, first realised on film in 1933 by Merian C. Cooper, is a vast, entertaining spectacle that makes for fantastic big-screen viewing. Although it runs for nearly three hours, the film is so well paced that it seems to pass in half the time.
Stage actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is finding times tough, like most honest people in the depression era, struggling to find food to eat let alone earn a wage. Life takes a turn for the worse when the theatre where she performs as a comedienne closes its doors. Enter Carl Denham (Jack Black), a filmmaker with a different kind of struggle on his hands. After consuming vast amounts of investor dollars in an unfinished film project, Carl finds the rug pulled from under him and no finance with which to finish his film. His cause isn't helped in the slightest by his producing a bizarre map that details the position of Skull Island, an allegedly undiscovered land filled with unique wildlife. "An ideal location for my film" thinks Carl - problem is, he has no leading lady. He bumps into Ann on the street and she fits the credentials, as well as the former star's wardrobe, but is unconvinced by Carl's promises of fame and fortune and his assurance the shooting will take place in Singapore. It is when she discovers the film is to be scripted by her favourite playwright, Driscoll (Adrien Brody), that she changes her mind and commits to the part. The cast and crew then sneak illegally out of New York on a hired ship, bound for Skull Island and the many unknown dangers that await them.
Romance develops between Driscoll and Darrow during the tense voyage, but it all grinds to a halt as they arrive on the island. The crew encounter some unfriendly natives, who intend to offer Ann as a sacrifice to Kong, the giant Gorilla whom they worship. It appears Ann's comedic talents will come in very handy in her adventure, as she comes between Kong and a Tyrannosaurus Rex, encounters giant bugs and other unbelievable creatures that inhabit the island. Will the crew be able to rescue her from Kong, who has become absolutely smitten by her?
The relationship between Darrow and Kong is exquisitely handled, a testament I believe to the superb characterization by Andy Serkis. The facial expressions and emotions that are conveyed in the Kong character are really something special, all of which add to the film's believability. Despite my already being familiar with previous cinematic versions of this story, I was genuinely taken by Jackson's storytelling and vision here, as well as all of the superb performances across the board. It goes against most of my instincts to prefer a remake, however this rendition is my favourite by far.
I must mention that this film is a very long sitting for younger viewers, who are likely to only enjoy the action scenes anyway. For adult audiences, this is a perfect blend of humour, action and romance that will certainly reward with repeat viewings.
This video transfer is really outstanding and looks particularly fantastic on a big screen. The transfer has been framed in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.
The level of sharpness is excellent across the board - from very near objects to distant detail, this is the best you'll see in this format. Shadow detail is excellent, which is a necessity during the many tense, darker scenes. Black levels are similarly well weighted as the need arises. I did not detect any unnecessary low level noise in the transfer.
The film has been digitally colour graded to achieve a slightly dated appearance, which means we have a great consistency in palette during scenes. Bold colouring such as the neon lights of New York are spectacularly vivid and the jungles of Skull Island are a beautiful, lush green. The transfer to DVD hasn't introduced any unsightly smearing or rendering inconsistencies in the slightest.
MPEG compression artefacting is completely absent throughout the film. Even the presence of fog is handled smoothly, an effect which I find to be the most common hurdle for a low MPEG bitrate. There are absolutely no film artefacts to be seen, not even a speck.
Optional English subtitles are provided, along with two other languages. I viewed the majority of the feature with subtitles enabled and found the titles well paced and relatively accurate, with no major issues of concern.
Disc one is dual layered (DVD9 formatted), with the layer transition placed during the feature at 86:22. This is a still, relatively quiet moment mid-scene, so the transition shouldn't prove too clunky for most viewers.
There is only one soundtrack accompanying this film on DVD, presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and encoded at 384Kb/s. The film was screened theatrically with Dolby Digital 6.1 EX and dts audio.
I found the English dialogue always distinct and easy to discern above the many boisterous, but appropriate sound effects. The ADR is absolutely seamless and I didn't notice any issues regarding audio sync.
Despite the slightly flimsy bitrate that has been utilised, this soundtrack surprised me with its noticeable depth and channel separation. The surround channels are used to deliver sneaky bursts of the soundtrack score, as well as the usual atmospherics such as oceanic noise, wind, rain and the ship's creaking. Busy street scenes are similarly well handled, with plenty of enveloping audio effects. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel and rarely stray to the rears.
Considering the short time frame in which it was composed and recorded, the film's orchestral score by James Newton Howard is an outstanding piece of work. The Kong theme is highly memorable and the overall score has a distinctly epic, adventurous feel akin to other classic adventures, such as the Indiana Jones Trilogy. The soundtrack is also peppered with popular pieces of music from the period, such as Peggy Lee's Bye Bye Blackbird, rooting the film firmly in the thirties.
The subwoofer is utilised for all manner of low frequency effects, most notably in the ship's engine room. Loud clunks and assorted mechanical movements are translated with good depth, while drums and percussive passages in the soundtrack score are also augmented nicely. I noted some other great subwoofer moments courtesy of the many large walking creatures and copious falling rocks and debris. This is an altogether great soundtrack experience, however I look forward to hearing a nice dts-es effort when we receive a director's cut of the film on DVD.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a great collection of extra features, most of which are informative and pertinent to the film. Aside from the Volkswagen featurette and trailer on Disc One, all of the material in this package is presented with 16x9 enhancement.
A look behind the scenes of the making of a Volkswagen commercial for the 'official' crew vehicle, a product sponsorship tie-in with the release of the film. Nothing special to see here.
A trailer for a romantic comedy-drama, or a promo piece for New York City? Who knows.
Peter gives the viewer a brief guide through the contents of disc two, offering some viewing options.
This is a fantastic look into the extensive work that needs to be done on a film once principal photography is completed. This documentary is essentially a continuation of the Peter Jackson's Production Diaries DVD, and is compiled of thirty-five weekly instalments that were placed on the film's website. Each instalment covers a particular aspect of production and as the production progresses these are revisited to gauge the film's progress. It's a very in-depth guide that literally covers every conceivable aspect of filmmaking and succeeds in demystifying the filmmaking process completely.
The subjects that are covered include Andy Serkis' motion capturing of the Kong character, pick-up shooting, CG artwork, musical scoring and the cast's ADR recording process.
The weekly video diary entries can be viewed in numerous ways. The first and most obvious method is to select play all, which delivers the instalments in sequence. Other options include a week-by-week chronological breakdown, and featurettes that branch portions into specific departments. This feature is very well presented and easy to use.
Assorted concepts, cast and crew interviews and creature designs are broken up with documentary-like footage that treats the existence of Skull Island as fact. This is an interesting featurette that goes to some length to explain Skull Island's broad range of wildlife and the plight of its inhabitants. It's all very good tongue-in-cheek fun, and entertaining viewing.
This featurette examines the great depression and New York's social, cultural, economic and political status at this turbulent time. The filmmakers were seeking a certain level of realism and this shows exactly what a fantastic vision the film actually is. Subjects such as prohibition and vaudeville entertainment are covered, as well as skyscraper construction and the Empire State building. This is fascinating, in the context of the film, and worthwhile viewing.
Self explanatory, really. These cover the contents of disc two and are played back automatically if you select play all from the Production Diaries menu.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video transfer is excellent.
The audio transfer is very good.
The extras are worthwhile viewing and pertinent to the feature.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using DVI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|