King Kong [Blu-ray]
(John Guillermin, 1976)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video: Universal Studio Canal Video / Studio Canal DE
Region: FREE!/ Region 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 2:14:28.143 / 2:14:50.207
Disc Size: 32,023,212,418 bytes / 38,297,677,438 bytes
Feature Size: 28,180,180,992 bytes / 34,501,945,344 bytes
Video Bitrate: 20.12 Mbps / 29.27 Mbps
Chapters: 20 / 12
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: June 17th, 2009 / January 19th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Video codec: VC-1 Video / MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2204 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2204 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DUBs: DTS-HD Audio French 2046 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2046 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 1631 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1631 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1570 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1570 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DUB:DTS-HD Master Audio German 1488 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1488 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, none
• Making Kong (22:17 in SD-PAL)
• Deleted Scenes (in SD-PAL)
• Theatrical trailer (in SD-PAL)
Deleted Scenes (16:30 - 576i with German subtitles)
English Trailer(2:23 - 576i)
Description: The movie Dino De Laurentiis wanted to sell with the line "When Kong dies, everybody cries" is a camp-infested update of the 1933 classic. With a script by Lorenzo Semple Jr., creator of the similarly tongue-in-cheek Batman television series, this version of Kong is loaded with silly dialogue and situations. On this occasion, the sea voyage is reconfigured as executive Charles Grodin leads his crew in search of oil deposits. Star Jeff Bridges, as well as the big ape's love interest, Jessica Lange, and the rest of the cast all seem to be in on the joke. Special effects artist Rick Baker certainly succeeded in his efforts to give the face of Kong some emotive qualities, and at the time of the film's release, the special effects were state-of-the-art. Considering the extraordinary development in the last quarter century, the effects here are nevertheless likely to underwhelm contemporary viewers. Although King Kong did fairly well at the box office, earning a place as the third highest grossing film of 1976, it was not the blockbuster De Laurentiis hoped for, especially in light of its high budget. ~ Michael Costello, All Movie Guide.
Common wisdom contends that Dino De Laurentiis' big-budget remake of
Merian C. Cooper's classic 1933 film, King Kong, is a bad movie. And,
viewed from a certain perspective, perhaps it is, but it's also a lot of
fun. Certainly, this version of Kong doesn't have more than an echo of
the original's magic associated with it. The same level of painstaking
craftsmanship isn't apparent here -- instead of using stop-motion
technology, we have Rick Baker in a monkey suit. But the 1976 rendition
has a fresh, breezy feel to it. The screenplay, by Lorenzo Semple Jr.
(Three Days of the Condor), is relentlessly tongue-in- cheek, and
there's an air of self-aware campiness pervading the project.
The image quality is about what you might expect from a 1976 film put 1080P. It's dual-layered with a modest bitrate and the image is far from stellar but looks consistent and acceptable. Due to it's size this probably is different from the VC-1 HD-DVD that came out. Grain is reasonably heavy and healthy detail exists. Even putting to Blu-ray doesn't really help the special effects which may have been exemplary over 30-years ago but now have definitely lost their luster. It looks a shade hokey - but suitably the film is a little hokey. The shots of the island are the most impressive - well, beyond the radiant Jessica Lange. Nothing looks exceptional and colors may be slightly faded but it does look like real film - without any digital bias. So this, almost nostalgic hi-def appearance, certainly benefits this particular film.
The French Blu-ray is out-of-print - possibly because it was offered as region free - I'm not positive. There are differences in the image quality. The German transfer is a bit brighter, and cleaner (the French had some dirt). The German colors are slightly cooler - and there may even be some slight digitization. I'd say for most system you won't see a significant advantage of one over the other. Both look very acceptable in-motion.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The best news yet is the English DTS-HD Master 5.1 track, at 2204 kbps, does NOT have forced French subtitles as we've seen with other offerings from France, so you can actually see this as it was shown in the theater in the US. It's a pretty decent mix although, like the image, never stellar. Bass and separations exist to varying degrees throughout the action sequences but you can still tell it has some range deficiency. There are 2 optional foreign language DUBs (French and Spanish) and Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish subtitle choices which match the initial viewing screen that asks you to pick a country (say 'Australia'). My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
No surround bump offered on the German release - but a similar DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel and it has some depth for the many effects - ape growls - as well as the score by the iconic John Barry (Midnight Cowboy, Dances With Wolves and the Bond themes among his many credits). It's offered for both the original English and a German DUB. There are optional German subtitles included and the Blu-ray disc is region 'B'-locked.
All supplements are in PAL - playable on a region 'B' machine or on any Momitsu. Not much here - a dated 'making of... for 22-minutes that seems more humorous than exciting and a handful of deleted scenes and a trailer. The plus is the 'Making Kong' is, surprisingly for this disc origin, in English.
Extras include 16.5-minute of deleted scenes (with German subtitles) and an English trailer - both in 576i - PAL.
Studio Canal FR - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Studio Canal DE - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Still very enjoyable as a lesser-seen alternative to the more famous and latest versions of the giant ape story. I really liked seeing it again and have had a guy email me for years that THIS is the best version of King Kong. I'm slowly coming around. ;) This is absolutely worth owning on Blu-ray! Plenty of entertainment here.
July 27th, 2009
May 24th, 2017
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Gary W. Tooze