Peter Jackson sure is one talented guy. After the uber-success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, he went and made a movie that I had no desire to see remade, and he did a pretty good job of it. Before playing the awesome Peter Jackson's King Kong - The Official Game of the Movie, I wanted to see this film about as much as I wanted to see an Elektra sequel. But I loved that game, and I don't even like first-person shooters! Anyways, that convinced me to give the movie a go, so my wife and I went to check it out at the crappy theater in our town. We were both glad I did. Sure, there were parts I didn't care for too much, but overall it delivered on both the action side and the emotional side, and kept me entertained for pretty much the entire length of the film, which clocks in at around three hours (we seriously need intermissions for movies this long).
I'm sure there isn't a person out there that doesn't know the basic story, but for the sake of completeness I'll go ahead and let you hear it again. It starts with an adventurous film maker by the name of Carl Denham, who soon overhears information implying that his latest film is about to be canceled before he even has the chance to finish making it. Thinking quickly, he hurriedly scuttles his actors and crew aboard the SS Venture and pushes off. Their destination, unknown to everyone but Carl and Captain Englehorn, is a secret lost island where Carl intends to finish filming his movie. Along for the ride are Ann Darrow, his leading lady, and Jack Driscoll, the script writer.
Once the boat smacks into the island (literally), Carl takes a small group ashore to check things out... can you smell the trouble coming? After a narrow escape from some fierce natives, the gang scurries back to the ship. Later that night, Jack is shocked to discover that natives snuck aboard the ship and kidnapped his love interest, Ann! So a rescue team is assembled and launched to recover her from those pesky natives, but they find themselves to be too late, as they see a giant ape take Ann, his sacrificial offering from the natives, out into the depths of the jungle. Now, most people at this point would just say oh well, she's dead, but not our hero, Jack! He's bound and determined to get his woman back!
Insert big jungle adventure here. There's no need to walk through this part. You have the typically creepy-scary-amazing creatures like uber-bugs, Tyrannosaurus-rejects, Brontosaurus stamped, Pterodactyl-bats, and all that good stuff. Eventually though, Jack gets the girl, and Kong gets captured and shipped back to the States. Yeah, real smart idea there, Carl. Didn't this guy ever watch a little movie called King Kong, er, wait a second... never mind. Okay, okay, so Kong plus lights plus noise plus Ann equals mega-rampage throughout the city. Final destination: top of the Empire State Building. Final outcome: c'mon, we all know what happens. Still, by that point Peter Jackson has got you hooked emotionally, so it doesn't matter that you know what's coming.
Now, what didn't I like about this movie? The Brontosaurus stamped. I just really didn't like that for some reason. It guess it's probably because it seemed over-the-top and didn't feel real. I never for a second believed those people where down there running with the dinosaurs. I know that technically it was impossible to do without filming the two separately, but still they're supposed to make us believe that it's really happening, and I just didn't. The other part I didn't like? The kid that kept talking a few rows behind us in the theater. What the hell is with parents?! It your kid keeps talking then get your butts out of the theater so the rest of us can enjoy what we paid good money to see. Somehow, I don't think I can fault Peter Jackson for this one, other than the fact that the film was three hours long with NO intermission. My butt does have a limit on how long it can sit in an uncomfortable chair!
Anyway, now this surprise pleasure of a film is coming to DVD, and in true Peter Jackson style were being given a version packed with loads of extra features, though I'm sure there will be a basic few-frills version as well. The extra features are really good, and pretty much document the making of the movie. These "Production Diaries" take you through all different aspects of making a movie, even more so than Project Greenlight. They cover such areas as the model building, pickup-shooting, ADR (dialog re-recording), obtaining sound effects, inserting sound effects, music scoring, computer animation, and so on. Most of them are pretty interesting, but there are a lot more that aren't even included in the bonus features. To get them all, you'll have to pick up a whole separate package called King Kong - Peter Jackson's Production Diaries.
The bonus features on this King Kong DVD release isn't limited to the production diaries, however. There are several other vignettes, such as the making of the Volkswagon Touareg car commercial, exploring the New York of 1933, and a faux documentary about the history of Skull Island. Like the productions diaries, these were education as well as entertaining, and I especially liked the History of Skull Island. They're very good at making the whole thing actually seem within the realm of possibility. Of course, the strange part about this whole review is that I received pre-release discs for the extra features (and no movie!) rather than the final 2 Disc Special Edition, so all of these special features are subject to change. But whatever they do decide to go with for the final version, it's sure to be worth it.
King Kong will be released by Universal starting March 28, 2006. Check out the official website for more information. You can also play a stupid little Macromedia Flash game over at http://www.kingkongmovie.com/game.
Coinciding with the March 28, 2006, DVD release of "King Kong", Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Fangoria Entertainment, saluted the cinematic icon with a one-night only theatrical screening of the bonus feature "Skull Island," featured on the two disc Special Edition DVD. Also premiering was "The Sci-Fi Boys" documentary.
The evening also included a panel of sci-fi legends including make-up artist Rick Baker, Editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, Forest J Ackerman, monster movie illustrator Basil Gogos and make up effects Steve Johnson. Paul Davids, director, writer and producer of "The Sci-Fi Boys," moderated the panel.