The King Kong Deluxe Extended Edition is an all-new, action-packed DVD experience! Director Peter Jackson has added more than 13 minutes of never-before-seen footage, including the heart-stopping excitement of a charging Ceratops, the adrenaline rush of a Skull Island underwater creature's attack and so much more. Plus, this Deluxe Extended Edition is loaded with hours of brand-new special features, including a riveting commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, an outtake and gag reel, along with over 38 minutes of thrilling deleted scenes!
The extended version of Peter Jackson's King Kong
adds 13 minutes to the running time--fortunately those 13 minutes include two dynamic action scenes and no material has been added to the movie's belabored set-up, which tries to give depth to these quintessentially b-movie characters with a clumsy patchwork of melodrama and in-jokes. But once movie-maker Carl Denham (Jack Black, School of Rock
) and his crew finally arrive at Skull Island, the movie kicks into gear with spectacular action, technical wizardry, and genuine feeling. Though Kong
seems crafted to dazzle the eye on the giant screen, the overlong structure improves when you can take an intermission at will. At home, each scene can be approached on its own terms, be it the insanely choreographed battle between Kong and three T. Rexes or the subtle and multi-layered interplay between Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive
) and Kong (played, through motion-capture technology, by Andy Serkis, who previously played the similarly animated Gollum in Jackson's Lord of the Rings
). The addition of a rampaging ceratops and an underwater race with what the movie's crew dubbed a "piranhadon" not only add more eye candy, but provide some valuable moments of character development. But in the end, that's frosting on the cake; when the movie's weaknesses and strengths are weighed, the emotional power of the fantastical relationship between a woman and a giant ape is a real cinematic achievement.
Much like the movie itself, the abundance of extra features on the Deluxe Extended Version of Peter Jackson's King Kong mix dazzling skill (the very in-depth "making of" documentary reveals the staggering amount of work that went into animating Kong) and woeful bloat (do we need to know this much about the friends who made cameos as biplane pilots?). As usual, there are mildly interesting but expendable deleted scenes, goof-ups and hijinks (some charming, some cloying), trailers, and outright advertisements (a plug for fans to buy collectible models--annoying until you learn from the doc how much obsessive labor the designers put into these things). But the most intriguing material provides a good long look into the filmmakers' creative processes, both technical (among other things, "pre-viz" animation shows how in some cases the action sequences were conceived before the script) and human (endearing glimpses of Jackson's stop-motion attempt to recreate Kong when he was 12 years old). Jackson and his engaging design team (who are much more interesting to listen to than the actors) clearly revere the original film, and frequent excerpts from it reveal why--but also demonstrate this movie's greatest weakness: "More realistic" doesn't equal "more evocative." --Bret Fetzer