The King has arrived on blu-ray this week, with the release of Kong: Skull Island, bringing fans deeper into the monster action film thanks to a great HD transfer and bonus features. Is the King’s return worth picking up at home? Check out my review to find out my thoughts!
My love of monster movies is fairly well documented, and while Godzilla is probably my favorite, my first love has always been King Kong. The original 1933 film is among my favorites and as a kid sparked my interest in the genre altogether. As such, it was with much sorrow I had to miss out on Skull Island when it hit theaters earlier this year. Having a newborn is a pretty damn good reason, though, so I can’t complain over much. Regardless, I jumped at the chance to check out the blu-ray and was not disappointed.
Rather than try and go through Kong’s origin story once again, Skull Island takes an entirely different approach. Set just as the Vietnam war is ending, the film finds the fledgling organization Monarch (who we met in the last Godzilla movie) on the verge of shutting down. Their hope lies in discovering something big on a newly discovered island.
With a team of soldiers in tow as an escort, a professional photographer (Brie Larson), and former SAS tracker (Tom Hiddleston) they embark on a mission to find something out of myth. Within minutes of arriving, things go horribly wrong and the expedition turns into a fight for survival (or revenge for Samuel L. Jackson’s character). All this while Kong is fending off an ancient monstrous threat.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and loved the fresh take on the Kong story. For the most part, the film carves its own path while drawing heavily from the established mythos. It doesn’t tread the same story beats, but long time fans will see plenty to like. It’s packed with tons of monster action and it’s handled incredibly well, with great cinematography.
Seriously, even without the beautifully rendered monsters walking about, the film is gorgeous and packed with visual delights. In this way the filmmakers manage to convey information visually without needing a bunch of dialog exposition. This keeps the film moving at a quick pace without feeling rushed. While I think some of the human characters could have been fleshed out a bit more (there were a few moments where the emotional connection simply wasn’t there) it was still an excellent ride I can see myself enjoying over and over again.
Sight and Sound
It’s visual prowess really shines on the blu-ray transfer of the film. WB has always done a great job in bringing great resolution to their releases and that’s still true with Kong: Skull Island. The vibrant colors of the jungle, and creatures, stand out in crystal clarity with crisp lines. The deep blacks allow for the colors to stand out and makes the night time sequences feel even more special.
The soundtrack does a great job of immersing you in the setting of Skull Island and gives the battles a visceral quality to them. This shines through in the lossless surround sound track, though the prioritization of the dialog seems to be a tad low (I had to turn up the volume for talking scenes). All in all, the technical aspects of the blu-ray does a great job of highlighting the impressive qualities of the film.
The Kong: Skull Island blu-ray comes loaded with these bonus features on the disc:
· Director’s Commentary
· Creating a King: Realizing an Icon
· Creating a King: Summoning a God
· Monarch Files 2.0
· Tom Hiddleston: The Intrepid Traveler
· Through the Lens: Brie Larson’s Photography
· On Location: Vietnam
· Deleted Scenes
The VFX/monster lover in me really enjoyed the behind the scenes featurettes on how Kong was brought to life for a new era, along with the other monsters on the island. For those of you looking forward to the expansion of the Godzilla/Kong monsterverse, you’re in luck as the Monarch Files provides even more connective tissue for the iconic beats before they square off in a few years.
As a fan, I’m probably more biased towards these special features than many of the others I’ve reviewed over the years. While others may not get as much out of them, I think they add a decent amount of extra material for your dollars.