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Academy Award winning director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) brings his sweeping cinematic vision to King Kong. Get ready for breathtaking action in this thrilling epic adventure about a legendary gorilla captured on a treacherous island and brought to civilization, where he faces the ultimate fight for survival.
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As with his Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson's King Kong remake had an inordinate amount of specially-produced extras. Here too, they were spread across the BD and several different DVD editions with no overlap. If you wanted everything, you had to buy all of them. In the US, those Kong releases were:
● King Kong BD – originally issued in 2009 and repackaged several times since, the disc in the latest set is absolutely identical. It has the same VC-1 audio/video encode, commentary and other extras. As before it features the theatrical and extended cuts, via seamless branching. The only slight difference is that the US release now features on-disc artwork, as opposed to the prior disc's plain text design. In the UK, the film disc remains exactly the same as the original, while the bonus disc has the new artwork. If you're curious, it's the image of Kong and a V-Rex facing off against each other, with Ann standing in the middle.
● King Kong widescreen DVD (187:05 theatrical cut) – 1-disc, also available in a fullscreen (1.33:1) edition. Again repackaged several times since, including as recently as 2016, the widescreen disc was also included in the Special Edition set.
● Special Edition DVD (theatrical cut) – 2-disc set, with a second disc of extras.
● Deluxe Extended Edition DVD (200:07 extended cut) – 3-disc set.
● Peter Jackson's Production Diaries DVD – 2-disc set.
These were precisely replicated in numerous other countries, albeit with slight variations in dub and subtitle options. Note that the HD DVD edition had only the theatrical cut and no extras. For this Ultimate Edition, the US, Spanish and Japanese releases add a somewhat redundant third disc: the widescreen theatrical cut DVD detailed above. Everywhere else omits it.
In the case of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, the studio's answer to completist fans was to simply repackage old discs in ever larger, more unwieldy – and more expensive – box sets. This time they've taken the far more sensible route of creating a single BD containing all the extras. Nothing new whatsoever has been produced for this set's bonus BD; it simply collects together virtually everything issued before. This includes obscurities like three Easter eggs and both of Jackson's introductions for the Special and Extended Edition sets' bonus features. However, a few DVD extras are missing:
● "The Volkswagen Touareg and King Kong" featurette (2:04) – from the theatrical cut DVD. A brief look at the making of VW's even briefer car commercial; likely left off due to rights issues and no great loss.
● "See More of NYC in Wish You Were Here" advert (1:08) – from the theatrical cut DVD. A bland tourism promo short, totally unrelated to the film and left off for good reason.
● Opening title sequence (1:53) of "Recreating The Eighth Wonder: The Making of King Kong" 8-part documentary – from the Extended Edition DVD, which now starts immediately on part 1. It's a collage of video clips and soundbites which later appear in the doc itself, so isn't essential. Nonetheless, its omission is a strange one.
● DVD-ROM PDFs of the film's 1996 and 2005 scripts – no big deal: they can easily be found in various places online.
If you do happen to get one of the UE sets that includes the theatrical cut DVD, it has two of the four missing items as its only extras.
Of course, the missing 4½min Howard Shore production diary, featuring the composer before he was dropped from the project, is not included as it never appeared on disc in the first place (you can find it on YouTube). All the DVD extras have been transferred in their original standard definition onto the bonus BD. They looked fine in the first place but there is no improvement in A/V quality by housing them all on a BD.
If you're considering discarding all your previously-bought DVDs or picking up this set for your first purchase, you lose out on some minor extras and attractive DVD menus and packaging. However, you gain more shelf space and convenience. The choice is yours!
I love the Peter Jackson version of Kong. Acting and the effects are great, and of course the story is a classic.
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