King Kong (2005)
By: J.R. McNamara on April 12, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Universal (Australia). Region 2, 4 & 5, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. English, Arabic, Icelandic Subtitles. 179 minutes
The Movie
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Kyle Chandler
Screenplay: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Country: USA
Peter Jackson is certainly the go-to guy for 'epic'. After his sojourn into Middle Earth, where could he go next? The entire Old Testament? A Brief History of Time? A live action Wombles movie? No! For some strange reason, Jackson decided his next feature should be a remake of King Kong. Why? Hadn't it already been remade, did it need to be remade again, aren't we over remakes? Well Jackson proved, through his love of the source material, that sometimes a remake, while not totally necessary, can certainly be a spectacle of…well, giant ape sized proportions. Jackson's has been a huge fan of this film since he first saw it as a boy many years ago (he actually owns a few of the original props), and while not bubbling with originality, it is King Kong for goodness sake, he has executed a grand remake, if only all remakes could be like this. Jackson's love of monsters and the monstrous are all over this film.

DO I really have to give a plot synopsis for King Kong? New York, 1930s: Filmmaker/ huckster Carl Denham (Jack Black) and playwright Jack Driscoll (Adrian Brody), along with ingénue actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) take a harrowing trip to the horrific Skull Island, under the impression that they are going to make a film, and are confronted with the amazing giant ape, King Kong (Andy Sirkis and heaps of CGI)…much action ensues…come on, you know the story!!

All of Jackson's influences are here on this film. You can see a bit of Lucas, a bit of Spielberg, a bit of Coppola (Francis Ford, not Sophie) in all of his direction. Does that mean he has sold out…who cares? King Kong is wonderful. The special effects, while not always super realistic, are so grand that the sheer spectacle of what Weta has done overshadows any scientific faults or realism issues. The creatures and surrounds of Skull Island are terrifying, and the images of 1930s New York are magnificent. Kong himself truly is the eighth wonder of the world, and Andy Sirkis' ape mannerisms are fantastic. The actors all play their parts well, including the 'square peg' Jack Black, who while not an amazing actor of note, certainly plays the charlatan Carl Denham to a T, hitting all the right emotional notes.

I can't wait to see what Jackson does next.
Perfect! I couldn't find a single thing wrong with the picture on this disc, although I must admit I was easily caught up in the flow of the film. Nothing short of amazing.
The 5.1 sound is brilliant, and has not only a wonderful score, but some amazing sound effects and some great incidental music from the era.
Extra Features
Disc one has two special features. The first is a trailer for the film Wish You Were Here, the other, a promotional piece for the VW Touareg. I did find this advertising a bit abhorrent. Fair enough films may have some product placement in them, most apparent in King Kong were Coke and Johnny Walker, but in a display that can only be described as Sigue Sigue Sputnik sized in advertising chutzpah, this disc actually has an ad for the VW Touareg and the making of the ad. Apparently this was the 'vehicle of choice' for the King Kong crew.

Sure it was.

The second disc is great though.

Starting with an Introduction by Peter Jackson (3 minutes 30 seconds), where he talks about all of the features on disc two, but mainly about the Post Production Diaries

Post Production Diaries (approximately 2 hours 40 minutes) continues the footage from the Production Diaries (reviewed elsewhere on Digital Retribution) about what goes on AFTER filming. Pick up shots, special and sound effects and other interesting tidbits about filmmaking are all present here. Funnily enough, these diaries are so thorough; they have completely made the idea of a commentary track redundant. Another good feature of these diaries is that they can be watched by date or by department, so if your interest leans more towards miniatures, you can just watch those diaries together. These diaries were created for the wonderful Kong is King Website, which obviously supported the making of King Kong from day dot.

Skull Island: A Natural History (16 minutes 56 seconds) is a pseudo special effects/ wildlife documentary about the monsters living on the fictional location. Basically this documentary covers the fantasy genealogy that Weta went through when designing the beasts. Quite entertaining and convincing, it is easy to become drawn into the fantasy as the various designers and crew talk about Skull Island as a real place.

Kong's New York: 1933 (28 minutes 27 seconds) is a travelogue of sorts about New York in the 30s. It covers all the actual events of the time, and gives a great snapshot of what the city was like. This documentary has some fantastic and tragic footage of the times.
The Verdict
Peter Jackson has created a masterpiece. It may seem long, but the time flies, and fans of cinema will be in awe of what has been done. Not bad for a movie about a giant monkey.
Movie Score
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