Peter Jackson’s massive remake of King Kong was released on DVD recently, and I finally had the opportunity to watch the DVD. Here is a brief review (no scores) – only because I started a new job and couldn’t devote enough concentration to a full-on review of a 3+ hour movie…
Note: This review was based on the Standard Widescreen Edition – there is also the 2-Disc Special Edition which has a second disc with additional featurettes. I usually recommend the special editions of any release. It remains to be seen if an “extended edition” is to be released. No deleted scenes appear on either current version that I am aware of.
True to form, there were two things I expected from Peter Jackson from this film – its length (3:08), and the spectacular and complete effects. They essentially rendered all of Manhattan as it existed in 1933. Most everything was realistic, especially Kong – between the excellent rendering, the expert movements of Andy Serkis (who everyone knows as the motion-capture actor of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings) and the extensive facial motion capture (Serkis had reportedly 132 MC sensors on his face alone), things really came alive. The only two things that caught my eye as fake were: The El train at the very beginning moved like a toy, and the zoom out of the native village in front of the “wall” made the wall appear modelled.
Overall, the movie was excellent, if a bit unbelievable (and I’m not talking about Kong and dinosaurs). How does the kid shoot the tommy gun as recklessly as he does, and manages to pick off all the bugs from Driscoll? I don’t believe tommys were known for accuracy. But thus is Hollywood.
I also felt that this version felt like a cross between King Kong and a “Lost World”-type movie, with the dinosaurs, strange bugs, and various other-worldly creatures. Some of it could have been cut back I think.
As for the actors, in general I thought the main actors were pretty good, but often they took a back seat once Kong shows up, with the exception of Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow. She did very well, although I find it improbable that she would not only start climbing the steeple of the Empire State Building while bullets are flying, but be able to stand up at the top at all without getting blown off. But again realism in some cases gets in the way.
Jack Black may have been flat. I’d have to watch again with a concentration on the characters to really know more. Subsidiary characters in a lot of cases appeared weak, with a few exceptions.
This DVD does not really include any special features. In fact, the menu is pretty simplistic, except for the background showing scenes from the movie. There are two additional add-ins though – one about the making of the King Kong/Volkswagon Taureg advertisement, and the other is a tourism ad for New York City made to look like a movie trailer, called “Wish You Were Here”.
In conclusion, definitely something to pick up if you are into the genre, or just into blockbuster films.