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King Kong 2 Disc Collector's Edition

By Mr. Stinkhead

My primary criteria for classifying a good, nay great movie is how I feel when the lights go back up and I make my way out of the theater. Sometimes its a great story, sometimes its great special effects and action, but the overall feeling when leaving the theater is how I judge how well my $9 was spent. Last year held many disappointments, but it also produced a handful of gems. One of those gems was Batman Begins, the other was Peter Jackson's King Kong. Not only at the end of the movie, but the whole time while watching it, the dominating sensation in my brain was hellz yes.

Click for biggerThe Film
Clocking in around 3 hours, (and two tons), Kong is massive. It's everything a blockbuster movie should be. There's engaging story, characters you feel sympathy for, some well placed comedy, and a visceral roller coaster that knocks the ever-lasting wind out of you. The stand-out sequence is Kong vs the dinosaurs on Skull Island, but you can't forget Kong vs the airplanes at the end. The action seems to just keep pounding without giving you a minute to catch your breath. Arguably, it's easy to rock your corneas with breath-taking imagery, but to make it fit into the story and not take over as the main attraction of the film takes skill. Jackson pulls it off wonderfully.

Click for biggerWe see two artists reaching the end of their rope in depression era New York City. The Ring's Naomi Watts as talented, yet out of work vaudeville performer Ann Darrow, and the fervent Jack Black as over-budget director Carl Denham. Carl happens upon a map to his last chance at greatness. The legendary, yet infamous Skull Island.

I won't spend tons of time getting you there, but Carl, Ann, and Adrien Brody end up on Skull Island fighting the natives, dinosaurs, gigantic insects and of course, the two ton ape that live there. Carl sees dollar signs everywhere, but knows Kong is the genuine article, and brings the spectacle back to New York City. You spent all the time thinking about if you could, you never once stopped to think whether or not if you should.

Click for biggerThe real power of the film is the sympathy and attachment the audience develops for the characters. We see the passion in Jack Black and want him to just get one success. We even feel for the King as he falls in love with Ann. I love how the movie itself is amazing and grand and spectacle like Kong in the movie. Overall, there's something for everyone, and it doesn't feel like Jackson skimped on any aspect. It embraced the depression-era escapist fantasy mentality of the 1933 original, yet its firmly rooted in the 21st century with its astounding special effects.

The number one thing going for this movie, to me, is that my first thought when the lights came up at the theater, was I need this on DVD. I recently set up a digital projector home theater, and I haven't been able to concentrate on anything since.

Click for biggerSpecial Features
My favorite segment from the Bonus Material disc was the Skull Island: A Natural History documentary. Done in a style like something found on Discovery Channel, it gives a fun background on the history and inhabitants of Skull Island. It shows that Jackson and crew really fleshed out the history of every aspect of the movie. It also features some great pre-production art used to bring these creatures to life.

Click for biggerThere was also an educational look at New York of the 30s. It really doesn't have anything to do with King Kong himself, but gives you a more detailed view of what the people of the era were going through, and how the city was growing and changing. It was interesting that the Empire State building was begun and almost complete when the stock market fell. It was very cost prohibitive to complete, but they did it anyway because they had come so far. Think of how many large scale projects recently have been completed after the money ran out...

Click for biggerThere's also a continuation of Peter Jackson's Production Diaries, the box set released with the film last fall, as well as a look at the making of the VW Tourag commercial that featured Kong's New York. I enjoyed watching how they mapped and translated Andy Sirkis (the actor behind LOTR's Gollum) as Kong. Amazing stuff. It's nice that this content is there, but honestly, the bulk of the behind-the-scenes goodies are in the separate Production Diaries box set.

You shouldn't have to put much thought into getting this DVD. Out of all the movies that came out last year, I can't think of any higher must haves. Yes, Batman Begins was fantastic, and a lot of people liked Episode III, but I didn't really get excited by much else from 2005.

Stay tuned to MPb, as this is City Crushing Monster Week.

The two-disc King Kong Collector's Edition is available from

Check this out. You can play as Kong fighting the dinosaurs in this viral game The Battle for Skull Island. And what's this? We just heard of a contest where you can win a 15 minute phone call with Peter Jackson! Check it out with the podcast here.

All photos © Universal Studios. Review ©2006

Ok, I admit, I also got very excited by Into the Blue, aka Jessica Alba in a dripping wet bikini for an hour and a half, but that's one of my guilty pleasures, and I didn't want to negate my review of how grand Kong really was.

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