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King Kong (SE)
DVD disk
04.14.2006 By: Jason Coleman
King Kong (SE) order
Peter Jackson

Naomi Watts
Jack Black
Adrien Brody


star Printer-Friendly version
The classic tale that every person who has seen a single moving image on film in his or her life should know by now. Breakdown Ė Man and woman, then Kong and Woman, then man and woman again, and finally back to Kong and Woman. (And with a few appropriately spaced planes with enough ammo to kill a small country!)
With all the advances in special effects and CGI technology, I find that in some films, little details get missed. Itís almost as if some filmmakers know that they have such a spectacle on their hands that they donít have to worry about little things like a story or performances. Which is why itís so surprising that famed Director Peter Jackson has virtually done the unthinkable. Not only has he surpassed any and all expectations with his digital creations, but he has gotten the performance of a lifetime from none other thenÖKing Kong himself. Itís a massive feat for an artificial character to out shine the human actors in a film and itís a testimate to both Jackson and actor Andy Serkis, who did all the physical work for the mighty Kong. So while there are a few moments (especially at the beginning) that are by the numbers, itís forgivable in comparison to the show stopping work that Jackson and company have created. Kong is layered; a light and touching love story one minute, a sheer rollercoaster ride of excitement the next and both are exactly what the ďbig screenĒ was made for. (And Iím someone who hated all three LORD OF THE RINGS films, so itís high praise!)

Jack Black is adequately cast as the sleazy movie man, with Brody playing yet another seen-it-before man in love and Watts topping it off with a performance that is best during those quiet moments. But the real star, actually the real actor here is Kong and not just for the chest beating and scenes of bravado. When a filmmaker can take you into the eyes of a CGI character and you can actually see what the big guy is thinking, there is genius at work. This Kong is more then an empty shell - itís a living, breathing, feeling creature that takes the audience aback with its complexity. Actors in Hollywood take note, you could learn a lot from the big guy, heís making you guys look lazy. (And yes, I am still giving props to actor Serkis for his work!) As far as Iím concerned, this film earned the damn Oscar for special effects - itís magical. And even though I havenít been ďwowedĒ recently by big budget films, Peter Jackson and his mighty Kong have temporarily restored my faith in all things large.
Iíve already reviewed the One-Disc version of KING KONG (the review of the actual film stays the same, sorry not being lazy, just standing by my words!) and itís features, but this is the 2-Disc Special Edition and itís the one I told you to check out Ė turns out I was dead right to do so. (Maybe Iím psychic!) This is the set to own Ė 2 disc Ė there is no substitute!

Disc One:

The Volkswagen Touareg And King Kong (2:05): A look at a commercial that was put together for the car in the film. A quick but nevertheless fascinating featurette that wets the appetite for more!

Plus there is also a Trailer for the film WISH YOU WERE HERE, under the heading of See More Of NYC In ďWISH YOU WERE HEREĒ .

Disc Two:

Introduction By Peter Jackson (3:32): Jackson, still looking rather gaunt (donít loose too much weight bro!), gives an outline of the features on this 2nd Disc. He explains, as will I, that there is three ways to watch this disc. The first is a Play All, which gives you two hours and forty minutes of the Post Production diaries of King Kong, the second is by Date, picking a sequence from a specific time, or you can go the route of the third option, choosing your viewing by Department (sound, visual effects music, ect.). Plus there are two documentaries Ė one on New York in 1933 and one on Skull Island, which also have their own Play All option that includes the Post Production Diaries too! Itís a cavalcade of choices that one should come to appreciate from a filmmaker as gifted as Jackson, it makes his gigantic film opus even more mammoth. Consider me officially intrigued.

Post Production Diaries (2:32:30): What is most fascinating here, but is common place to those who checked out, is just how much Director Jackson is willing to let the audience see. Here is a cinema creator, a celluloid magician if you will, willing to expose any and all secrets about the making of his film. In the day and age of featurettes and commentaries that divulge nothing and are merely ass kissing sessions, itís good to see someone out there remembers that sometimes itís nice to let the audience in on the process. Jackson goes full steam ahead, no holds barred, as he invites everyone who wants to see inside his mystical world. Highlights from this uber long and great two hour plus diary entry include watching Andy Serkis do his physical work as Kong (riveting and revolutionary!), seeing Jack Black during re-shoots proclaiming his newfound acting prowess and then proceeding to beÖwell, Jack Black, Colin Hanks and Black goofing off during ADR (Black even goes sans pants!) and all the small details in various departments of the film. Itís a Kong fanís dream and it delivers handsomely.

Skull Island: A Natural History (17:02): While Skull Island is a fictitious place, this documentary treats it like a real one, but in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, with various key crew talking about the creatures and landscape. Itís a unique way of getting the info out to the fans, but I canít say that this would not have been better suited as a straight on featurette. Credit for originality, but marks off for not getting to the point.

Kongís New York, 1933 (28:26): A look at the period of 1933 in New York, using many authentic photos and film footage, plus we hear from experts and historians about the time. Itís less about Kong, more about New York, which is just fine. Itís a documentary thatís definitely worthy of being on The History Channel, thorough and educational. (But in a non-boring way complete with vaudeville and fire breathers!)

Plus look for a Green Bug Hidden Easter Egg (0:43) that shows the product and the process of how the action figures and collectables for the film were created and sculpted. (Gimme, gimme!)
Director Peter Jackson has taken a story already done to death, with a setting that seems outdated, and has still given us a masterwork that goes beyond being just another typical big budget flick. This Kong was done with love, by someone who obviously knows the genre, someone who is a fan of Harryhausen and Bradbury, someone who makes technology bend to their will, and it shows. My new recommendation for this 2-Disc Special Edition Ė itís the one to buy and if you forgo it for the single disc version, youíre cheating yourself out of an honest and completely detailed look at the making of a motion picture. (My last line still remains the same!) Funny, whoever said good things come in small packages, never met Peter Jacksonís magnificent monkey.
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