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King Kong (DE)
DVD disk
Nov 28, 2006 By: Quigles
King Kong (DE) order
Director:
Peter Jackson

Actors:
Naomi Watts
Adrien Brody
Jack Black

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Carl Denham, a devoted but self-centered film director, tricks a beautiful woman named Ann Darrow to play the lead actress in his film. They travel on a ship to a place called Skull Island, and from then on, it's the classic tale you all know: girl meets ape, ape falls in love, girl considers bestiality, and ape gets shot down off the Empire State Building by fighter planes (and if you consider that a spoiler, push off the rock on your head and get out more).
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
So far I own the KING KONG 2-Disc Special Edition, the KING KONG Production Diaries, and now I've got the KING KONG 3-Disc Deluxe Extended Edition. Too much? Maybe. But it's one of the few films I'd actually support this many purchases for. The problem with this release though, is that (aside from the crappy packaging, which you can read about in the extras section) the film is split across two discs. That's already one mark against it, since the previous editions (Special 2-Disc and regular) had the film on just one disc. The other mark against it is that the extended scenes are limited to one really cool scene against a bunch of minor, unimportant ones. But more on that later.

I'm not gonna bore you with a review of a film that you've already seen or read about a hundred times. You're already aware of the praise: "The best movie of 2005", "An epic action-adventure retelling", "A masterwork that brings Kong to life not just as a beast, but as a character", etc. And you've also heard the complaints: "It's too long!", "The CGI looks fake!", "Jack Black is miscast!", "Jimmy the Cabin Boy is worthless and annoying", etc. So where do I stand? I'm one of the Pro-KONG people. Sure, I can admit that it needs some tightening and not all the CGI is flawless (although most of it comes close), but it's still an amazing film. I was blown away in theaters, and I'm blown away now. Out of the movie's four sections (depression-era New York, ship scenes, Skull Island sequences, Kong meets Manhattan), the only area that starts to bore me is the excessive stuff on the ship. Everything else is wonderful.

Now then, let's move on to the good stuff - the stuff you're here to read about - the extended scenes. Well, as I mentioned earlier, there's only one great additional sequence. If you know anything about the Extended Edition, you've probably already heard of it. I'll give you a hint: it involves a raft and a sea creature. I won't spoil anything, but I will say this... it's an awesome, lengthy sequence that deserved to be in the film. The rest of the added scenes, not so much. They're limited to a few blurbs of dialogue, as well as a couple of noticeable scene add-ons. They mostly take place on the island (the first one involves a triceratops, and another has what appears to be a retarded-looking ostrich), although there are also a few obvious additions to the final segment in New York (one of which is fairly funny, I'll admit). Personally, I thought the movie was too long as is, and unless you care enough about the raft sequence, this Extended Edition is only worth picking up for the extras (which are terrific).
THE EXTRAS
First off, I'd like to address the packaging... it's lousy. Not at all what I expected. It looks more like a PC game than a DVD. It's a thick plastic case, awkwardly holding inside two of the discs on the right, and then the first disc on the left (except it's hidden under a features navigation mini-booklet). On the outside is your standard cardboard slipcase, except with a little flap on the front cover (which once you take off the little piece of sticky gum, cannot be kept closed). Meh.

The good news though, is that the actual content on the DVD more than makes up for what it looks like. If you like extras, then this 3-Disc Deluxe Extended Edition is a must buy.

DISC 1

Audio commentary (with director Peter Jackson and writer/producer Philippa Boyens): This track, which continues with the rest of the film on Disc 2, is as good as it gets when it comes to commentaries. It's in-depth, interesting, and very entertaining. Jackson also goes on to explain the changes made to the film for the extended cut.

Deleted Scenes (46:22): There are 16 scenes and an introduction by Peter Jackson... as well as an introduction for each deleted scene. Both the cut segments and Jackson's comments are worth checking out here. The scenes are entertaining and interesting (all of them have unfinished CGI, etc. so you can get a good idea of how certain things were accomplished in the film), and the intros help give an idea as to why specific bits were cut.

The Eighth Blunder of the World (18:51): This is probably the best gag reel I've ever come across. It's not the funniest, but it's entertaining as hell to watch. The first half just contains your normal everyday flubs and mess-ups (as well as Jack Black being unable to avoid saying the F-word), but there are also some CGI gags and such (one of which has Jack Black with a light saber fighting off those giant bugs). Awesome stuff.

A Night in Vaudeville (12:05): This featurette gives some historical insight into vaudeville performances, and also shows audition clips for the film's intro scenes. As if that weren't enough, it also allows us to watch in full the Vaudeville acts that were filmed for the movie.

King Kong Homage (9:56): A wonderful addition to the extras, this featurette points out all of the nifty references and easter eggs to the original black-and-white production. These include lines of dialogue, props, and entire scenes. Very cool.

Missing Production Diary: Production Day #59 (8:16): Although it's presented like a DVD hidden feature, it's incredibly easy to find (right below "The Eighth Blunder of the World"). Basically, it's a comical production diary that was considered too inappropriate for the officially released ones on the net (as well as the Production Diaries DVD set). Its focus is on actors getting addicted to watching playbacks of takes on the monitor. Cute.

DISC 2

Pre-Visualization Animatics: There are 4 scenes presented in previs, all of which can be played with or without music. However, only the battle on the Empire State Building can be viewed with a comparison to the final film, so that's the scene to check out.

The Present (9:25): Basically, "The Present" is a humorous short film that was made on-set for Peter Jackson's birthday. It's not exactly a professional piece, but it's entertaining and certainly worth checking out.

WETA Collectibles (5:17): If you have an interest in how the collectible model items get made for big films like KING KONG, then this short featurette is worth your time. I personally had no interest in it.

Also included on this disc are Trailers (Teaser, Theatrical, and Cinemedia).

DISC 3

Introduction by Peter Jackson (2:32): Oddly enough, Jackson not only introduces Disc 3 here, but Disc 1 and 2 as well (wouldn't people have already seen those if they were on the third disc?). Still, Jackson is a great speaker and makes this a fun little introduction.

Recreating The Eighth Wonder: The Making of King Kong (3:06:33): Split into 8 chapters, this extensive documentary tells you everything you could possibly want to know about the making of the film that wasn't shown in the Production Diaries. It's long all right, but it's worth it. Everything single aspect of Pre-Production to Post-Production is delved into, delivering an altogether stellar look at how films get made. After this, I think I know everything there is to know about KING KONG... and yet I'm still not tired of it.

Conceptual Design Video Galleries (41:19): There are five galleries, presented in the form a slideshow with music. I can't imagine who would actually watch these all the way through, since in total they add up to over 40 minutes worth. Some of the artwork/designs are interesting to look at, though.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I would not recommend this Deluxe Edition DVD as the single version of the film to buy. I do, however, think it's an excellent double dip that is worth every penny of its cost in terms of extras (for big-time fans like me, anyway). If you merely enjoyed the movie and are just looking to pick up one copy of it (with less of a focus on extras), I suggest going with the original 2-Disc Special Edition. That's the one I'll probably watch again it the future, since I don't have to switch the discs halfway through in order to finish the film (it's actually not that bad, since the 2nd disc loads fast and gets straight to the menu). The only reason I'll go back to the extended version of the film is to watch that amazing raft sequence, and to re-check out the superb extras.
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