King Kong Collector’s Edition Review: A Classic, Well-Done King Kong Movie

King Kong

As a child in the 80’s my first introduction to King Kong was through the 1976 version, in which I always remember the ending and the feeling of sadness I had for Kong. I never saw him as a monster or evil. Quite the opposite, he was just a confused animal for which the people that found him had no respect. Sometimes you wonder if you remember things correctly, but as I watch this movie for the first time in almost 30 years, that same sympathy returned. Let me get to the story first…In the 1970s, an oil tycoon thinks vast oil deposits are on an uncharted island and sends a large crew to explore the island. While there, they discover there is no oil, but there is a huge, monstrous gorilla the like of which has never been seen before by man.

While on the island, the oilman sees that the gorilla is drawn to a young, blonde actress. The crew had come across her stranded boat on their way and picked her up. They had used her to draw the gorilla into a trap and capture him. One not to give up a money-making scheme, the oil tycoon brings Kong back to New York to be a promotional tool for his company. Kong escapes and goes on a rampage in New York City to find the actress and is pursued by the military trying to stop him.

This is really the same story we all know. Every version of King Kong follows this story with minor details changed, but it’s always the same overall story. However, I think this one does it the best. For whatever reason, the Peter Jackson version irked me, and I can never get through it. Perhaps, it gets a little too silly at times. There’s just something about it I don’t like.

This version, however, is as strong as ever. Due to the year, it was made they used practical effects (as opposed to CGI), and I think it works better. The emotions displayed by Kong are stronger than anything I have seen since.

A high-quality acting pool also aids the film. Charles Grodin plays the oil tycoon, the actress is Jessica Lange (in her first-ever movie role), and her love interest is a very young Jeff Bridges. You can’t help but love the casting.

There are also some eerie qualities to the film. The movie’s finale takes place on one of the World Trade Center towers (which has just been built in 1973). To see them up and in such a pivotal role is strange to see. And the ending is just gut-wrenching. It’s still sad just writing about it.

This release is really cool for a couple of reasons. For one, this is the first time it has ever been released on Blu-Ray. Very cool! But another is that back in the day, they actually created a mini-series version of this movie. They added about 45 minutes of footage that had been filmed and cut it into two night’s worth of films. That is included along with the theatrical release, and it’s very cool to see them back to back and note the differences in them.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The 1080p scan is crystal clear, and you really see the detail of the performance of special effects master Rick Baker, who is actually in the ape suit for key scenes. The mini-series is now all HD 2.35:1 anamorphic (compared to the 1.33:1 standard video that would have been on a TV set in the ’80s). The audio is DTS-HD MA stereo with the original theatrical mix for both the theatrical and the mini-series versions. The theatrical film has a 5.1 DTS MA Surround so you can hear all the action so loud and clear it’s like they are right in your living room.

King Kong Collector’s Edition Bonus Features

DISC ONE: THEATRICAL CUT (2.35:1)

  •     NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian Ray Morton (Author Of KING KONG – THE HISTORY OF A MOVIE ICON)
  •     NEW Audio Interview With Special Makeup Effects Wizard Rick Baker
  •     NEW Something’s Haywire – An Interview With Actor Jack O’Halloran
  •     NEW On The Top Of The World – An Interview With Assistant Director David McGiffert And Production Manager Brian Frankish
  •     NEW Maybe In Their Wildest Dreams – An Interview With Sculptor Steve Varner
  •     NEW There’s A Fog Bank Out There – An Interview With Second Unit Director William Kronick
  •     NEW From Space To Apes – An Interview With Photographic Effects Assistant Barry Nolan
  •     NEW When The Monkey Dies, Everybody Cries – An Interview With Production Assistants Jeffrey Chernov And Scott Thaler
  •     Audio: DTS-HD 5.1 And NEW Restored Theatrical DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo Track
  •     Theatrical Trailer
  •     TV Spots
  •     Radio Spots
  •     Still Galleries – Posters, Lobby Cards, Behind-The-Scenes Photos

DISC TWO: EXTENDED TV BROADCAST CUT (2.35:1)

  •     NEW 2K Scan Of The Additional TV Footage From The Internegative
  •     KING KONG Panel Discussion From The Aero Theater (2016)

This movie is a classic. If you love King Kong and want to see it done well, I highly recommend this release. Just be prepared to cry when it comes to end. I’m serious. I can’t take it.

King Kong Collector’s Edition is available from Scream Factory on Tuesday, May 11th.

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