King Kong (1933) - Digibook [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Drama / Fantasy
Warner Brothers || NR - 100 minutes - $34.99 || September 28, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-10-05


Buy this DVD from Amazon.com!
.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Writer(s): Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper (story), James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose (screenplay)
Cast: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot


Theatrical Release Date: April 7, 1933


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • 2 Documentaries
  • Test Footage
  • Lost Spider Sequence
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English SDH

Comment on this and other movies on the message board!


.::THE FILM::.

Oh no, it wasnít the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.

Plot: Carl Denham (ROBERT ARMSTRONG) is a quirky and outlandish director going to exotic locations at great peril to get just the right shots and his latest, to an unchartered place known as Skull Island, will be his greatest achievement. However, he has no leading lady and no respected actress will go on such a voyage so Denham sets out to find her for himself. After walking the streets of New York, he comes upon a down and out woman named Ann Darrow (FAY WRAY) who is caught stealing. For whatever reason, he sees her and sees a star and the offer of fame and adventure is something Ann cannot pass up.

Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsackís King Kong is often regarded as one of the best, if not first, uses of special effects via stop motion from legendary animator Willis OíBrien who had prior done The Lost World in 1925, a predecessor to Kong for which the film owes a lot.

In terms of King Kong, admittedly I was not as enamored with the film as others are and have been however I must give major props that a movie that was filmed in 1933, now 77 years ago, that although it has plenty of cheesy lines and performances, what Cooper and company accomplished back then was incredible and having watched the feature on Peter Jackson and WETA working to recreate the lost spider sequence and how much craftsmanship it takes to get to where they did.

The cast is top notch from Robert Armstrong as Carl Denham (how Jack Black got that part in Jacksonís version is beyond me) to Bruce Cabot playing the semi-romantic lead against the beautiful and original scream queen, Fay Wray playing Ann Darrow (since Iím making comparisons, Naomi Watts does a more than adequate job filling those shoes in the remake). The acting isnít the best save for a few moments here and there but for the fairly new technology they were doing to make Kong come to life you have to tip your hat to the cast for their use of imagination and having to act against almost nothing.

Overall, there isnít much that hasnít been said for the special and visual effects masterpiece, while the story isnít anything special (IMO), even 7 decades later you have to appreciate the brilliance of what Cooper and Schoedsack brought together in terms of the effects that would lead the way and shape the minds to some of the best filmmakers and visual effects artists working today.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This digibook release comes with 33-pages of information on the movie including concept art and photos from the movie.

Feature Commentary Ė The track features Ray Harryhausen (stop motion animator) & Ken Ralston (effects master) with Fay Wray and Merian C. Cooper. The latter two are comprised of archival interviews while the first two are in the studio together talking about screen specific items.

RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong (158:58; SD) Ė This is an amazingly expansive, 7-part documentary that chronicles anything and almost everything surrounding King Kong from its origins to the movieís legacy and includes interviews with various people from Fay Wray to Frank Darabont to Kong-aficionado/collector Peter Jackson. Yep, this puppy is over 2:30 hours long but is fascinating through and through.

Probably the most interesting aspect is on part 6, ďThe Mystery of the Lost Spider SequenceĒ that goes over how this piece of footage was lost from the film followed by Peter Jackson and crew recreating it off of sketches and a still photo from the scene released back in the 60s. The amount of detail and work Jackson and crew did was phenomenal and they did a damn good job in seamlessly integrating it where it was supposed to go (note: itís not in the final movie, itís just this sequence and intercuts the original film with the work they did).

The Lost Spider Sequence (6:00; HD) is what I was talking about above shown separately and in HD. Again, well worth watching but I would check out part 6 of the documentary before you do so...

Creation Test Footage (4:57; SD) Ė This also was covered in the documentary. This is just some testing done with stop motion and was made for a movie that was eventually scrapped, though some of the animals featured in the test footage were used in King Kong. This is accompanied with commentary by Harryhausen.

Iím King Kong! The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (57:02; SD) is yet another well done documentary filmed in 2005 and includes more interviews with those who knew Cooper telling what kind of a man he was. The documentary was narrated by Alec Baldwin.

Finally, there is the original theatrical trailer (1:34; SD).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The movie is presented with a 4:3 original black and white format, now in 1080p high-definition. Of course, itís often hard to judge a 77 year old movie since thereís bound to be a few imperfections but with the films age in mind and watching it for the first time in years on Blu-ray, I was fairly impressed. Obviously this isnít going to have an amazing amount of detail levels especially objects in the background as itís the nature of the film and age but the close-ups were good and the black levels are also nice (good news for a B&W).

The 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track gets the job done, but thatís the extent of it. I wouldnít expect a movie this old to have superior audio even comparing it to some of the early James Bond movies from the 60s but I thought everything was quite easy to understand and some of the sound effects, like Kongís roar, although flat, sound half-decent.



.::OVERALL::.

While I wasnít as enamored with the story of King Kong as others, I have to appreciate the movie for what it did in terms of the early visual and special effects that would lead to many of the accomplishments we have seen throughout the years that would eventually lead to CG effects and, well, often that can be a gift or a curse on a film. In any case, this digibook release by Warner is well worth if not for the great amount of features that will catch you up on the making of KK as well as those behind the camera.