Back Comments (34) Share:
Since Peter Jackson is seemingly incapable of making short movies any more, the DVD-buying public is often treated to multiple releases of his feature films; with extended editions that incorporate additional scenes and add to the, already lengthy, running time. While this worked for the highly successful Lord of the Rings series, it remains to be seen whether this revised DVD of King Kong will fare quite so well.

King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition
Considering the huge success of the Tolkien adaptations, the response that greeted Jackon's version of King Kong could be described as strangely apathetic. Perhaps audiences were suffering a case of deja vu, as remaking the original 1933 film had already been attempted in 1976, and not with any great aplomb. Despite a huge marketing drive, the Monkey Movie was ultimately beaten at the box office by The Chronicles of Narnia, which was, ironically, an attempt to ride the fantasy wave created by Jackson's productions of The Lord of the Rings.

Feature


A rather large primate falls in love with a blonde, throws a hissy fit and falls off the empire state building...Does the storyline of King Kong really require much elaboration? Well, it does if your name is Peter Jackson, which is why, in this version of the classic story we're treated to countless character arcs; most of which feel decidedly unnecessary.

Things start off promisingly enough with the introduction of our characters. Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is our damsel in distress, Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) is our unlikely hero and Carl Denham (Jack Black) is our comic-relief/bad guy. Effectively, each of these characters is well-written with multiple facets and a nice amount of development. The problems start when our supporting characters are afforded the same luxury.

The Fellowship of the Kong includes Jimmy (Jamie Bell), Hayes (Evan Park) and Lumpy (Andy Serkis). Like our protagonists, these characters are given endless scenes of dialogue in a bloated portion of the film which takes place on the ship to Skull Island. But after spending so much time in fleshing out these characters, the movie then discards them for the final section of the film.

King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition
Another problem is that the entire movie plays out like a love-letter to the original. There are countless references to the 1933 version which would not be so bad were it not for the fact that this remake only rarely deviates from the story. The only real difference is that each scene tends to last about three times longer.

The real purpose of remaking this sort of film is that old excuse of ‘the technology being far superior, so we can do this sort of thing much better’. Oddly enough, the special effects in this version aren't that astounding. When Skull Island's inhabitants of beasts and creepy crawlies are the only thing on-screen it's all very nice to look at. Unfortunately, when they're called to interact with our human cast, things look almost ropey; with the dinosaur stampede looking slightly shaky.

So, what about the additional content? Just how special is this extended edition? Well, there's not a huge amount here that you didn't see in the cinema—or at least that's what it feels like, as the extra stuff mainly consists of dialogue dotted here and there. Of more interest are three new sequences which all feature more of Skull Island's pesky critters. It’s nothing to write home about, but worth a watch regardless.

King Kong isn't a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination; the acting is fine and the production is polished. Unfortunately, it's also decidedly undisciplined. Just as J.K Rowling seems unable to write a regular length children's book, Peter Jackson seems to have lost the ability to make a decent paced feature film. After all, the 1933 film that he clearly loves so much managed to tell the same story in almost half the screen time.

Video


As with the previous DVD version, King Kong has been treated to an 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation, but fans will be pleased to know that the extra scenes are indistinguishable from those that made the theatrical cut. Darker colours are exceptionally well contrasted and skin-tones are well presented.

King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition

Audio


The lack of DTS will mean that many fans will never class this release as 'the definitive version' but, for what its worth, the 5.1 Dolby digital track is near faultless. There's a nice use of surround sound for the numerous set-pieces on Skull Island and in New York City and dialogue is presented with clarity. Crank up the volume and you're in for a near-theatrical presentation.

Extras


If you haven't had your fill of additional scenes, then the first port of call should be the huge list of deleted sequences on disc one. Alarmingly, most of these were cut from the boat sequences, meaning that this part of the film was even longer in the script. There are a few nice touches to be found throughout, but it does feel like a definite case of overkill.

It may take a considerable amount of patience to make your way through the commentary featuring Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens for, while it a worthy chat-track, its length means that it is quite an undertaking. Perhaps the best aspect of this is that both Jackson and Boyens contributed to the screenplay so they can give us some genuine insight into the development of the characters and the numerous narrative choices they made to differentiate this from the previous versions of the story.

If you're fond of goofs then ‘The Eighth Blunder of the World’ should be a pleasing way to kill nineteen minutes. This montage of bloopers is never hilarious, but does showcase the good atmosphere present on set.

Prior to the release of the film, a vast amount of ‘making of’ footage found its way to the web in the form of ‘Production Diaries’. One of them, presented here, never made it due to the content featured. One to file in the category for 'amusing' rather than 'insightful'.

The opening of the movie showcases a variety of Vaudeville stage acts. A short featurette details how the second unit auditioned the acts involved. This gives audiences a chance to see many of the performances which were cut short, although whether such acts could be described as ‘enjoyable’ purely depends on the viewer's point of view.

King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition
If you missed the many, many references to the 1933 original version of King Kong, a ten minute featurette which details the numerous homages is on hand.  

Moving on to disc two and you'll find a collection of trailers and two scripts which were written in various stages of the film's long production history (dated 1996 and 2005).

‘Animatics’ are one the strangest of all DVD extras, presenting a cartoon vision of how the crew intend to film certain scenes. The scenes in question all closely resemble the animatics shown here; although whether anyone, aside from wannabe film-makers, would bother giving them a second watch is up for debate.

Fans of collectibles will be interested by the featurette which delves into the world of Weta, one of the most respected makers of movie memorabilia. It's very short, but worth a look for the fanboys.

The camaraderie on set is showcased even more so with the short film ‘The Present’, which details how Jack Black and various other cast members shot a short film to give to Peter Jackson on his birthday. It's one of the most entertaining featurettes contained over the three discs.

Perhaps the biggest incentive for fans to make the upgrade to the extended edition is the three-hour documentary that can be found on the third disc. This can be viewed by separate chapters or in its entirety. This is about a thorough as a documentary can ever get, and although it's a little overwhelming, the commitment to give detail to every aspect of the film-making process (from early pre-production to Peter Jackson's final thoughts) should be applauded.

Finally, we conclude things with the ‘Conceptual Design Galleries’. Once again, this will be of more interest to those with a strong interest in film-making as opposed to a general viewing audience.

King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition

Overall


An exhaustive supply of extras means that fans of the film may be inclined to trade in their existing DVD for this revised special edition. Alas, the extended cut itself only highlights what was wrong with the film when it was shown in cinemas. It's an enjoyable fantasy, but there's always the feeling that half the runtime would make twice the movie.


Links: