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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mark Steven Johnson
Cast:
Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange, John Randolph, Rene Auberjonois, Julius Harris, Jack O'Halloran, Dennis Fimple
Writing Credits:
Merian C. Cooper (idea), Edgar Wallace (idea), James Ashmore Creelman (1933 screenplay), Ruth Rose (1933 screenplay), Lorenzo Semple Jr.

Tagline:
The most exciting original motion picture event of all time.

Synopsis:
The Big Apple is again besieged by the monstrous King Kong. Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange star in this ambitious remake of the 1933 original, which adds a great deal of camp and good fun to the story. Again, the gargantuan ape battles attacking aircraft high above the streets of New York, this time plunging from the top of the World Trade Center to his death amidst thousands of horrified onlookers. King Kong won an Oscar for special effects, and the horror and the thrills are brought anew to another generation in this classic and classy production.

Box Office:
Budget
$24 million.
Opening Weekend
$7.023 million on 974 screens.
Domestic Gross
$52.614 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 134 min.
Price: $12.99
Release Date: 11/22/2005

Bonus:
• Theatrical Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


King Kong (2005 Re-Issue) (1976)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 10, 2008)

Thinking back to 1976 makes me realize that I probably shouldn't criticize modern kids for their bad taste because I was just the same way back then. I went ape-nuts over that year’s King Kong remake and it ultimately didn't even matter if the movie was any good. I was into all the merchandise in a heavy way. Heck, I may still have my Kong lunchbox somewhere, and I know I possessed many Kong spiral notebooks.

I even won first prize at a Halloween costume contest that year when I went as the Empire State Building complete with stuffed gorilla on top. (Yeah, I know that's a reference to the original film, but how was I supposed to go as the Twin Towers? Cloning wasn't a reality back then.)

Truthfully, it's these memories of all the merchandise that stuck with me. I guess I liked the movie itself, but I'm not really sure. Time to find out how I feel 32 years later!

It turns out there's a very good reason why I don't remember much about K - it's a pretty forgettable movie. That's not to say that it's a bad picture, because it's not; however, that's also not to say that it's a good film either, because it can't meet those criteria. King Kong is yet another of the unwashed majority of movies that are watchable and mildly entertaining but not actually very compelling or memorable. If it wasn't for my embrace of the merchandise, it's unlikely I'd have any memory of Kong at all.

Although I don't think it was supposed to be, Kong is a pretty campy film. Charles Grodin heavily emotes in his scenery-chewing performance, and Jessica Lange seems to base her work on a drag queen's idea of Marilyn Monroe. Who woulda thunk based on this movie - her motion picture debut - that Lange would later receive six Oscar nominations and actually take home two awards?

The action scenes are mildly interesting, though the atrocious special effects negatively affected my enjoyment. Since I was so interested in the film, I remember reading "making of" accounts about Kong back in 1976. These all went into detail about how great the effects would be and how modern technology would give us a much more realistic Kong than had been available back in 1933.

The biggest change seems to be that our Kong was mainly a guy in a suit, whereas the old Kong was a stop-motion puppet. We also get to see a lot of poor bluescreen and rear projection shots. Granted, I'm sure these looked better to our less-sophisticated eyes back in the Seventies, but it's hard to believe they looked much better.

King Kong isn't a complete loss, but it has very little going for it. I didn't hate it, but I mainly just tolerated it. That's not what you'd call a strong recommendation.


The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio C-/ Bonus D-

King Kong appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Plenty of problems emerged in this unsatisfying transfer.

Sharpness was adequate at best and usually not even that good. The movie suffered from a lot of soft shots, a factor exacerbated by some notable edge haloes. The flick could appear acceptably distinctive, but it usually seemed less defined than I’d like. I noticed mild examples of moiré effects and jagged edges. The print used was in moderately bad shape, as it suffered from a lot of speckles as well as some scratches, hairs and spots. Grain could be heavy, and the movie often took on a murky appearance.

Colors were fairly subdued, as the film went with a pretty flat palette, and they often looked drab. The tones tended to be too heavy and they rarely felt natural and vivid. One scene that used heavy red light easily looked the worst in this regard. Black levels were muddy and inky, and many low-light shots seemed too dense and thick. This wasn’t a good presentation, so it only merited a “D+”.

Matters don’t improve much with the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. One the positive side, Kong offered a reasonably impressive soundstage for a movie from the mid-Seventies. The surrounds provided some good reinforcement of the information from the front. I noted no split surround usage, but the general ambience they gave seemed beneficial.

The stereo effects from the front were inconsistent but often adequately separated. The imaging was strange at times; some dialogue came from the correct left or right channel - or a spot between the center and the side - but occasionally a sound that should be closer to the center went farther to the side than something else. It's hard to explain, but the localization of sound sometimes seemed incorrect. John Barry's score received effective usage and balanced nicely between the front channels, with some support from the rears as well. While it's got some peculiarities, I had to give the track credit for effort, since most films of its era don't attempt such ambitious audio.

Unfortunately, the quality often showed significant flaws. The score sounded good, I must admit. The music boasted nice range and definition, as the score came across with nice fidelity. Effects also featured good bass response during louder moments; for instance, Kong’s footsteps provided the expected oomph.

Otherwise, the track disappointed. Distortion was the main problem. Speech often sounded rough and edgy, and effects showed the same problems. They were usually crackly and shrill, especially as the film progressed. Its first half wasn’t too bad, but once the action scenes occurred – and most of them were in the final hour – the audio went downhill in a hurry. Between the good reproduction of the score and the ambitious – if erratic – soundscape, the audio merited a “C-“. It’s a definite disappointment, though, as the distortion made it borderline unlistenable at times.

King Kong boasts almost no supplements. We see its absurdly positive trailer - one that declares Kong to be the most stunning movie of all time. Considering that it wasn't even the best movie entitled King Kong, that's an ever-so-slight stretch.

Nostalgic factors make me want to like 1976’s King Kong, but all the goofy sentiment in the world won’t turn it into a good film. Oh, this Kong could’ve been worse – as the same filmmakers proved with 1985’s dreadful sequel King Kong Lives - but the flick nonetheless doesn’t hold up well.

And neither does this DVD. It suffers from generally poor picture and audio, and it also lacks substantial supplements. Even with a cheap list price of $12.99, avoid this flawed release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.25 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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