Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 3rd, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1933
Directors: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Writers: James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose, Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace, Leon Gordon
Cast: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher, Sam Hardy, Noble Johnson, Steve Clemente, James Flavin, King Kong
BluRay released: February 7th, 2017
Approximate running times: 104 Minutes
Aspect Ratios: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono French, DTS-HD Mono Spanish, DTS-HD Mono Portuguese
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
BluRay Release: Warner Brothers
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $14.97
Made at the dawn of sound era, King Kong the film much likes its title character is the stuff legends are made of! The film’s origins can be traced to dream that co-director / co-producer Merian C. Cooper had about a massive gorilla that terrorized New York city. Another key collaborator in this film’s evolution is British novelist Edgar Wallace who was brought on to help write the screenplay. And though there is no denying his contributions to the film, he would pass away before the film’s completion. Many of this film’s cast & crew would also work on simultaneously The Most Dangerous Game, a film which also recycles the jungle sets from King Kong.
The film’s narrative is a perfect balance of melodrama and action adventure. The film is superbly paced as each key moment are given just the right amount of time to resonate. And when it comes to the use of miniatures and stop motion effects this film delivers in spades. Standout moments visually include, the moment King Kong first appears onscreen and the film’s finale where King Kong climbs to the top of the empire state building.
When discussing the performances, none stand taller than King Kong. Other notable performances include, Fay Wray (Doctor X, The Vampire Bat) in the role of Ann Darrow, the woman that King Kong becomes infatuated with and Robert Armstrong (‘G’ Men, Mighty Joe Young) in role of Carl Denham, the director who exploits King Kong.
Kong King is widely recognized as one of the greatest fantasy films. With its greatest strength being the way in which it redefined the language of cinema. And though technology has drastically evolved over the years, there is no denying this film’s ability to captive audiences.
King Kong comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.37:1 aspect ratio. This release marks the first time that I have seen this film and my comments in regards to Warner Brothers previous Blu-Ray release are based on what information I could find on internet. Though the menu and the file size of the main are the same on both releases. There is one area where this release does differ from its predecessor and that is this new release is a MPEG-4 encode, while the previous Warner Brothers Blu-Ray was a VC-1 encode.
For a film of this vintage the source used for this transfer looks great. The image looks crisp, black and contrast levels remain strong throughout. Grain looks healthy and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with audio options, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. All of these audio mixes are presented in a DTS-HD mono. The English audio mix sounds, balanced, dialog is clear throughout and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented. This release comes with four subtitles options, English SDH, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 34 seconds), the lost spider sequence (6 minutes), creation test footage with Commentary by Ray Harryhausen (4 minutes 57 seconds), a documentary titled I’m Kong: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (57 minutes 1 second), an audio commentary with Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston, with Merian C. Cooper and Fay Wray and a seven part documentary titled RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World (total running time 2 hours 38 minutes 57 seconds). The seven sections which make up this documentary are The Origins of King Kong, Willis OBrien and Creation, Cameras Roll on Kong, The Eighth Wonder, A Milestone in Visual Effects, Passion, Sound and Fury, The Mystery of the Lost Spider Pit Sequence and King Kongs Legacy.
The extras are a detailed account that leaves no stone unturned in regards to this film and its legacy.
All of the extras except thirty-two-page booklet have been ported over for this release.
Overall King Kong gets a very affordable new release from Warner Brothers, highly recommended.