16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2011
I can't add much to that what's already known: King Kong is still one of the best adventure/fantasy/monster movies in the history of filmmaking. It is simply amazing that a movie of almost eighty years old is still a true joy to watch and to watch again. Now the gem is finally on bluray and it is something for the real filmlover and collector to own. Its packed in a great hardcover book with the story behind the film, the film itself is restored to its maximum and the disk is also packed with fantastic documentaries...Like I said, this is what a bluray version of a classic should look like. Highly recommended. Oh by the way. It's an American import, but it's region free so it can be played without any trouble on region 2 players.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2005
I've just read the previous reviewers comments that this film is outdated. That may be because its SEVENTY TWO YEARS OLD! This film would have been terrifying at the time, the stop action animation was state of the art and the audience would have bought it. The story is an absolute classic and still stands up today although film structures have changed and it may seem rushed. I would recommend anyone to see it before the Peter Jackson film just to get an idea of how some elements of films have changed but the important ones have stayed the same.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2004
King Kong is one of those genuinely iconic movies that transcend classification and time. This is not to say it isn't dated; as an early talkie - and a special effects driven one at that - it inevitably is. Yet its primitivism actually adds to its enjoyment. By the standards of any generation 'Kong', once it gets going, is still pretty much the most sustained, fast-paced and imaginative action adventure ever made.
Examined against modern CGI monster movies, the stop-motion techniques of Willis O'Brien may now look jerky and crude, but the sheer scale and ambition of them is still way ahead of anything done since. Think about it, in all the Jurassic Park's and Godzilla's of the last generation, it's more the conviction and naturalism of the monsters themselves that we admire rather than what they actually get up to. A triumph of muscle and tissue co-ordination, they run around a bit and attack people and let out deafening surround sound-roars, but do any of them manage the kind of big scale action Kong does? Within an hour of screen time our great ape fights three separate monsters, brings down a native village, rips up New York and becomes a cinematic martyr atop the Empire State Building. Beside this the activities of our snorting, sweating, salivating CGI creatures seems quite passive.
Its this giddy ambition of the film that still keeps it ahead of the pack. Despite all the money chucked around, no recent monster movie has ever delivered quite so much. If we can see beyond the squeaky soundtrack, the dodgy acting and fuzzy monochrome we can still shake our heads and marvel at the fact that it was even attempted, let alone done.
And lets not ignore the other aspects that make Kong great. The fantastic art direction creating what is still the scariest, most mysterious jungle ever put on screen. Max Steiner's fantastic music score that set the template for movie soundtracks to come. The detailed, atmospheric sound-effects that were years ahead of their time and belie the technology available. The seamless editing once Kong appears and the no-nonsense direction of Cooper and Schoedsack that never wastes a shot once we get the static preliminaries out of the way. If ever there were two 20th century adventurers who deserved their own biopic it is surely Cooper and Schoedsack - they were the Indiana Joneses of their day.
Looked at historically, Kong is a fascinating example of other aspects of 30s cinema. Dialogue is hard-boiled and minimalist in the crime reporter way so beloved of the time. The acting is stagy and cartoonish but oddly endearing in this fantasy setting. Men are men - they bark at each other, discuss nothing personal, are largely sketched in and generally get about things with minimum fuss. No wonder movies are so much longer these days, with all the analysing, character development and soul-searching that goes on. For her part, Fay Wray is no plucky heroine, she is just there to be beautiful, fragile and in need of constant rescue. Wray may have become an iconic blonde image through this picture (despite actually being a brunette), but she is no feminist advancement, nor is she ever meant to be.
Kong himself is largely treated unsympathetically. He moons over Wray but she hates him from beginning to end, and it's only in his final moments against the by-planes that the audience is allowed to feel sorry for him. This is absolutely right * Kong should for the most part be dangerous and terrifying, not some cuddly ape. He is the stuff of nightmares and should not be a familiar if overgrown gorilla from some nature programme. This is where model work and stop-motion really do have it over on the naturalness of CGI * the lack of realism works to its advantage. It will be interesting to see how Peter Jackson handles this crucial aspect of Kong's success in his upcoming CGI-heavy remake.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2012
KING KONG is one of those rare films that just gets better and better with age. We watch it now as a 1930's fable that's transcended its own time, attaining mythical status. The undiminished, primordial energy it generates derives from all aspects of production; from Willis O'Brien's masterly stop-motion effects and Murray Spivack's innovative early sound mix, to Max Steiner's brilliantly evocative music score.
The performances too are in perfect sync with the larger than life premise of this adventure/fairy tale classic. Fay Wray's iconic portrayal of the beauty who kills the beast set the standard for every damsel in distress that followed. Most amazing of all is Kong himself, who projects such a distinctive personality, we dismiss the fact that he's just a visual effect. Who can forget those blinking eyes of his at the hotel window when he recognizes Fay Wray?
But even beyond all the indelible imagery, the film also boasts a deceptively simple story which has a subtext based on the real life exploits shared by co-directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack in making expeditionary films. This essential, autobiographical approach is what drives the first third of KONG, and serves as build-up to the wild fantasy that takes over. The film is as much a personal work as is anything by Charlie Chaplin or Erich von Stroheim. Consider: The "Old Arabian Proverb" following the opening credits was written by Cooper, the intrepid filmmaker Carl Denham, played with 30's style, two fisted gusto by Robert Armstrong, was fashioned after Cooper, and the pilots machine-gunning Kong in the famous finale are actually Cooper and Schoedsack.
KONG interweaves fact/fiction with such clever subtlety, that audiences are still largely unappreciative of this unique aspect of the film. It's a great, shrewdly conceived piece of escapism that endures, inviting repeated viewings so that in the end we realize there's only one KING KONG.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2001
As a budding movie historian and lover of all films, King Kong was unmissable. I collect all kinds of classic films but this is one that I think all movie fans should enjoy. The picture is in itself an historical landmark in the history of celluloid, featuring groundbreaking special effects, a star performance that would become a household name and one of the iconic images of American popular culture and the definitive 'damsel in distress'. This film gave a deafening roar that echoes today. But as a work of art, it is not to be missed. Being that we have all been reared in the post-Kong days of cinema, the idea of a giant ape stalking his prey is hardly shocking, we say 'oh that's just King Kong', but the first shot of the beast is still utterly gripping. Political correctness and liberalism tell us to look at Fay Wraye's performance as a symbol of the dark days when women were treated as dolls and weak creatures, but she portrays a classic role to perfection, and political incorrectness was never this good. Kong and his prehistoric pals are brought to life by stop-motion animation, some of the movements are rather jerky and the effects themselves are primitive by today's standards, but the effect that they generate has never been lost. Kong was in reality a metal skeleton with sponge-rubber muscles covered in rabbit fur, but 30s audiences and the 30s cast found it realistic, and that movement provides one with a feeling it would take more than a computer to beat this. The famous wall and door, behind which Kong resides was first used in Cecil B. De Mille's King of Kings, and was later used as a burning backdrop in the doomed city of Atlanta in Gone With The Wind. This film is packed to bursting point with breathtaking action and wonderful work all round, as a landmark and as a film, this one is truly special.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2012
At last a superb classic film has been given the Hi-Def treatment it deserves. This blu-ray of the original Great Ape movie delivers terrific picture quality alongside much improved sound plus 5 hours of incredibly worthwhile extras. This all comes in a book format package which includes some history, stills and poster repros. etc. If you already own the Warner U.S. DVD then this blu-ray's content is identical and you should carefully consider if the upgrade is essential - for me it certainly is even though the quality of the DVD version is very good. I waited until this blu-ray (which is region free. so plays on all machines) hit a low-ish price on Amazon Marketplace and then snapped it up. The Warner versions of King Kong are far superior to the U.K. releases (so far) and it's shameful that (again, so far) there is no hint of an English blu-ray release. I should mention that among the extras is a Peter Jackson re-creation of the lost 'Spider Pit' sequence, created using the animation techniques used in the original. If you are a Kongophile then don't hesitate, add to basket, there ain't gonna be a better version of this movie for a long, long time.
P.S. The other King is that lad from Memphis of course.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2014
This is a Blu-Ray I have been waiting for. In Fact I've been waiting for this for years. In my opinion "King Kong" (1933) is one of the greatest movies ever made. I've owned the movie on VHS, DVD & now Blu-Ray. This is the best version yet. The picture is outstanding given the age of the film. The level of detail is amazing & if you are a fan of this film it's like seeing it for the first time. I won't go into details of plot, cast, crew etc as I'm sure anyone considering this disc will already be familiar with all of this. I have only one small negative comment: I find that my Sony Blu-Ray player will not allow me to access the special features menu. However when using other players this is not a problem. Indeed the extras are worth a look especially the "lost spider sequence" & the "Creation" test footage with comments by Ray Harryhausen. I recommend this disc for all film fantasy fans & fans of classic films.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As a young child in the nineteen fifties, I used to watch this film whenever it appeared on TV on "Million Dollar Movie". I loved it then. I love it now. Time has not diminished the capacity of this film to mesmerize and hold the viewer in its thrall.
The story line is basic. Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong), a filmmaker and entrepreneur, leads an expedition to Skull Island where he discovers its deep, dark secret. It is a land where time has stood still, and prehistoric monsters still hold sway over the island and its inhabitants. There, the natives pay homage to the one whom they revere as "Kong", and who is, indeed, king of the island.
Denham, together with his beautiful, budding starlet, Ann Darrow (Fay Wray), as well as with the crew of the ship that brought him to Skull Island, investigates the strange ritual being performed on the island by its native population. Before she knows it, Ann finds herself captured by the natives. She is to become the bride of the mysterious "Kong".
When Ann discovers who the mysterious "Kong" is, she starts screaming and doesn't stop. The ship's first mate, Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), who happens to be in love with Ann, manages to rescue her from the clutches of "Kong". Notwithstanding the fact that "Kong" has taken a shine to her, Ann is relieved to have been rescued by the man whom she loves.
Denham then arranges to capture the creature, whom he calls "King Kong" and takes him back to New York with them on the ship that brought them to Skull Island. There, King Kong makes his debut, one that movie lovers will long remember.
The special effects of this film were superlative for its time and still pass muster today. The relationship between the beauty and the beast still makes the viewer sit up and take notice. This is an attention grabbing film that is as exciting today, as when it was first released over seventy years ago. It is a truly timeless, cinema classic. Bravo!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2005
Undoubtedly a classic film that is enjoyable in all it's unboundless cliches!
This film is deservedly remembered for it's amazing (at the time) special effects. Today, they look kind of quaint, and reminiscent of a different era in Hollywood, but it's to the film's credit that even now, when they look so poor, the effects don't take away from the film.
Kong is quite a sympathetic character, especially when he gets taken to New York, and with his fight against the Trex on Skull Island you are behind him all the way.
Fay Wray is also superb as the lady in peril. Screaming her head off, she doesn't get on your nerves. She's meant to be an airhead blonde bimbo, but she's quite loveable. The perfect antidote to Kong's violent scenes.
I know that this films is old, but the DVD transfer wasn't to the highest of standards. Very patchy, crackly and spotty. But the half hour documentary looking back on the film from some of its makers is quite interesting.
For anyone interested in old black and white films, classic films, or need to prepare for Peter Jackson's remake coming out later this year - then this is a perfect choice.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The basic story is of Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong), who makes those cute little animal pictures that are going out of style. If he wants to stay in business he must add a female interest and some excitement.
Circumstances forcing him to leave port quickly, he meets a girl Ann Darrow (Fay Wray), that is down on her luck and convinces her that he will make her a star (on the up and up).
Things get complicated, as you know it is bad luck to bring a woman onboard a freighter. And Ann really stirs them up including the first mate, Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot). On top of this she has a large date awaiting her at Skull Island.
I will not tell the rest of the story just incase you are one of the few that has missed the movie. But as you have guessed it includes a big ape named KONG. Not that cheesy thing that is always tussling around in Japanese movies, but a much more convincing Kong that can show great emotion.
You are about to watch the eight wonder of the world.