King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition
After making the monstrously epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, one would have thought director Peter Jackson might have chosen a smaller, more intimate film for his follow-up, if only to preserve his sanity. Instead, Jackson decided on a task arguably as ambitious as LOTR: a remake of his all-time favorite movie, King Kong.
Jackson pulled out all the stops for the remake, financing it almost entirely with his own funds in order to avoid studio meddling. The result is an entertaining, if uneven, epic. The special effects are at times breathtaking, and the first glimpses of Kong on the big-screen are truly awe-inspiring. King Kong's main flaw is its bloated length (over three hours), which unfortunately serves to deflate much of the film's excitement.
What's on the discs:
Few directors have embraced the DVD like Peter Jackson. His special edition Lord of the Rings discs, courtesy of DVD wizard Michael Pellerin, are the stuff of legend, causing Middle Earth geeks to froth at the mouth almost instantly at their mere mention. Jackson brought back Pellerin for King Kong, and the result is a three-disc extravaganza of deleted scenes, special features and behind-the-scenes documentaries.
Because of its immense length, the film itself is divided into two discs. In addition to 13 minutes of new footage integrated into the film, there are 38 minutes of deleted scenes. Which is surprising; with the theatrical release clocking in at an already hefty 187 minutes, I had wondered if Jackson had left anything on the cutting room floor.
The deleted scenes, most of which feature a minimal amount of CG effects, are actually quite interesting. It's often fascinating to see how little the actors have to work with when a movie relies so heavily on effects added after the film is shot.
This disc also includes commentary from Jackson and co-writer/producer Phillipa Boyens, a gag reel, a tribute to vaudeville, a look at references to the original film sprinkled throughout the remake, and a humorous "missing production diary."
Disc two features the second half of the film and several additional extra features, including 3D computerized pre-viz, a look at a short film the cast produced for Jackson, and theatrical trailers.
Viewers watching the disc on a PC can also read the 1996 and 2005 versions of the King Kong script.
The third disc is the featurettes disc, including all of the behind-the-scenes documentaries. As one would expect from a Peter Jackson DVD, the documentaries are exhaustive, covering every aspect of the film, from the earliest stages of pre-production through the final editing and computer effects generation.
As is the case with most "Special Edition" DVDs, the King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition is recommended primarily for hardcore fans of the film or of filmmaking itself. Peter Jackson is one of the more generous directors around, offering audiences a glimpse of just about every aspect of the filmmaking process. Fans of his work will not be disappointed with this three-disc set.