King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition
One thing mot of us have come to expect from a film directed by Peter Jackson, there will be an extended edition DVD released down the line. This was true for all three of his Lord of the Rings films and now it is true for his follow up masterpiece, King Kong. Jackson is a director who loves to shoot and it certainly must be difficult for him in the cutting room since he does have the tendency to think in terms of a theatrical release keeping in mind the extended DVD cut. Now the ultimate version of the 2005 epic is available in a three disc set. Like other Jackson extended versions the main feature is split between two discs so the quality of the video and audio will not be affected. Both of the feature discs contain extras that were not available on the previous two disc release. There is also a third disc referred to as the King Kong Archives that are full to the brim with added material. For the die hard fan this is a must have giving you more about Kong than you thought was possible. To help you find your way around all the extra material there is a little fold out booklet designed to look like maps that provide the layout of the menus on the three discs.
The film is split at the new 1:20 mark after the chapter named the Killing Ground. As part of the 13 minutes of additional scenes is a new monster, Pirahadon. This aquatic creature appears after the group builds a raft to cross the swamp. Denham tries to defend the crew with a machine gun but that only seems to irritate the monster. The Pirahadon attack the raft throwing Jack and several crewmen into the water. As the beast is busy eating a few of them Jack manages to get to safety by hiding in a clump of roots. There is also a new scene with Kong battling a Ceratops that adds even more excitement to the film.
There are also some slighter variations and additions. More is seen of the effort to transport Kong to New York City on the Venture. There is some filling out of the conflict between Kong and the army with some addition gun shots and retaliation by Kong. The new material is so seamlessly added that it is difficult to tell just what is extra. It will take several side by side comparisons to fully appreciate the new material.
The commentary track featuring Peter Jackson and writer/co-producer Phillippa Boyens is excellent. Jackson is naturally the more talkative of the pair going into incredible detail of the most minute aspects of the production. For example during the scene where Ann steps out of the cab and asks if this is the moving picture show Jackson relates how it took thirty takes to get the crane movement right. He had some trepidation since this was the first shot done on day one of shooting. He also mentions little details as how they had to recolor Naomi Watt’s eyes just to get every nuance perfect. Boyens seems to introduce a topic which is then elaborated on greatly by Jackson.
Then main part of the disc one extras are the deleted scenes. Each one has an optional introduction by Jackson including the reasons why the scene was omitted from the final cut.
Preston shows Ann her Cabin
How a man dies
Jack has doubts about Ann
Ann chooses an outfit
Hayes confronts Englehorn
Preston finds the map
Dancing a jig
The rest of the Venture voyage
Lumpy and his cabbage
The Venture escapes (original version)
A sailor’s bad luck
Original insect pit opening
Kong chases Jack’s cab
Kong versus the army
The eighth blunder of the world:
With Jack Black as part of the cast there is little doubt that there would be bloopers. This featurette shows some of the mishaps uncounted by the actors as they try to get things right. Little bits like Watts being unable to open a door or Black just goofing around are shown. There is even a very early animation of Kong taking a spill.
Missing production diary day #59:
As explained in a roll up the material was not considered fit to post on the web with the other diaries. On that day the log scene was being filmed. Black wanted to see the playbacks to gauge his over acting. This was just one of those days where things didn’t click.
A night in Vaudeville:
A little look at some vintage footage of real Vaudeville acts.
King Kong Homage:
A few side-by-side look at scenes from the original 1933 film with similar scenes in the 2005 remake are provide for comparison.
The DVD Rom portion of this disc features the complete 1996 and 2005 scripts.
The regular DVD continues the film as well as providing even more extras.
These are the rough drafts of the final computer animations. They look a bit like the Sims where making a film.
Arrival at Skull Island
Empire State Building Attack
During the production Jackson had a birthday. In honor of this the cast and crew screened a little short they prepared for him. They made the film behind his back during shooting. The little film starts with Naomi Watts wrapping a package and sending it on its way. One by one the actors steal the box away until finally it is presented to Jackson during the screening.
Basically this is a commercial for the line of highly detailed models used in the production and sold online. It does show the incredible amount of work that these models require.
Introduction by Peter Jackson.
Jackson introduces disc three assuring the audience that nothing contained here duplicates the separately available production diaries.
Recreating the Eighth Wonder of the World:
The Origins of Kong. This goes into how the original 1933 film greatly affected Jackson as a boy and set the stage for his work here. It goes into the special effects that were used back then including Jackson’s childhood attempts at using stop action photography. Naturally he goes into influence that Willis O’Brien and Ray Harryhausen had on his career.
Pre-Production Part One: The Return of Kong:
The models for the new Kong were actually around during the filming of the Lord of the Rings. This section shows how the initial ideas began to gel into ideas that would start the production.
Pre-Production Part Two: Count down to filming:
This section details Jackson pulling the initial cast and crew together in New Zealand to start rehearsals and staging. A few scenes go into just how much time was spent with Naomi Watts learning numerous dance moves. It shows that even if a scene had only a few moments of screen time the were hours of preparation.
The Venture Journey:
This part of the documentary depicts the difficulties of filming the water bound scenes on the boat.
The multipart documentary continues with something concerning just about every aspect of the production you can imagine.
Return to Skull Island
Filming the jungle scenes.
New York, New Zealand:
The recreation of the city of New York circa 1932 required building almost an entire miniature city.
Bringing Kong to Life Part 1: Design and Research:
The initial phases of the miniatures and motion capture technology in the planning stage and initial construction.
Bringing Kong to Life Part 2: Performance and Animation:
Merging the blue screen work of the actors with the computer animation.
Finally there is a section of video galleries and conceptual artwork.
The 1996 Kong
This is perhaps the most comprehensive consideration of a film I have ever seen. It is tantamount to a mini university course in how to big budget; special effects heavy film should be made. Jackson is the master of this genre and here we get unprecedented access to not only his work but also the process he uses to achieve his fantastic films. You can either opt to get the three disc edition or for a little more there is a release that features a Weta model of Kong on the Empire State Building. Jackson may have these extended editions but unlike many other studios they offer more than just re-releasing the same old material. What you get with this set is more Kong that ever and it is worth it.