“King Kong is a great film, but [the 2-Disc Special Edition] is not yet a great DVD.”
That was how I concluded my review of the DVD that came out earlier this year because after seeing the content on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring Special Extended DVDs, there was no doubt King Kong (2005) would be given a similar treatment.
This is the DVD set for fans of the movie, like myself, who enjoyed being transported to the world of Peter Jackson’s imagination. Detractors who thought the film was too long should move right along because this version is 14 minutes longer with extended scenes and added ones. Most notable are the men dealing with a charging triceratops, battling an underwater creature, and more scenes between Jimmy and Hayes, which clears up why Jamie Bell appeared to take such a small role. There is also over six hours of behind-the-scenes material called “The King Kong Archives” for those intrigued about how the film was brought to life.
Disc One contains about one half of the movie, ending 80 minutes in when the men find Kong’s lair filled with skeletons. There is commentary from director/writer/producer Peter Jackson and writer/co-producer Philippa Boyens, who attempt to not cover material already dealt with in the accompanying documentaries.
The archives on this disc contain 38 minutes of deleted scenes. They are very compelling to watch because the effects are not completed. The scenes have been assembled, revealing the actors performing against green screens cut with insertions of crude CGI. The difficulty of shooting a project of such magnitude is made all the more apparent. It is no wonder the film won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
The Disc One archives also include a blooper reel, “A Night in Vaudeville” that profiles the acts used during the opening montage, and “King Kong Homage,” which is sure to be a favorite of fans of the original. Not only did the 2005 script recycle dialogue and make inside references, like the scene where Denham is looking for actresses and one named Fay is already shooting a picture with Cooper, but Jackson went all out, from using original props to recreating the original costumes of the Skull Island natives for use in the stage show when they bring Kong to New York.
Disc Two contains the remainder of the film and commentary. The archives continue with “Pre-Visualization Animatics,” which are computerized storyboards complete with the lens to be used during shooting; “The Present,” a short film made by the cast for Jackson’s birthday; a look at WETA collectibles for the committed fan with discretionary funds; and the King Kong scripts from 1996 and 2005 that can be read or printed.
Disc Three is comprised solely of “The King Kong Archives,” and Jackson claims nothing is from the previously released Production Diaries. It contains very in-depth footage of the film’s making. Video galleries present early artwork and designs going back to 1996. Documentaries of the film’s pre-production and the creation of Kong are both in two parts.
The contents on King Kong (2005) Deluxe Extended Edition make it one of the best DVD sets of the year. For those who don’t want to know how the magicians do their tricks, get the 2-Disc Special Edition.