King Kong (2005) Ultra HD Blu-ray review

This 4K release of the 2005 King Kong remake carries two versions of director Peter Jackson's monkey movie: the theatrical release, and an extended cut. At 188 minutes and 200 minutes respectively they remind us of Jackson's difficulties with editing himself – and the shorter version is notably superior. However, it is beautifully shot, and features some strikingly intense set-pieces. The film also builds a genuine emotional connection with the big ape.

Picture: Jackson's eye for period detail is greatly enhanced on 4K Blu-ray. Colour grading throughout is stellar, combining dazzling splashes of neon and artificial lighting during the night-time New York climax with exquisitely subtle and refined skin tones and flora and fauna detailing.

Black levels are also richer and deeper than they were on the Blu-ray, while also containing more subtle info. Greatly enhanced light peaks sit at the opposite end of the luminance spectrum, making the image feel much more life-like and open. These highlights don't look forced, either; so ingrained is the HDR 'mark up', in fact, that even Vastatosaurus rex CGI skin benefits, helping the dinos look more realistic and three-dimensional.

Detail levels are also substantially increased for the 4K release, despite having to squeeze such a long film onto a single 100GB platter. Pixel finery is especially noticeable during the opening New York montage and in Skull Island's jungles.

The Extended Cut's extra footage has been graded well for HDR and 4K, fitting seamlessly alongside the original material.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: Joining King Kong's visual upgrade is a new DTS:X soundtrack (the Full HD Blu-ray supports 5.1 DTS-HD MA). The DTS:X mix doesn't deliver an explosive improvement over the already potent 5.1 version, perhaps, but you do feel a more complete sense of immersion in Jackson's exquisitely crafted world.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: Unlike, say, Fox’s Prometheus 4K reissue, Universal’s UHD incarnation of King Kong includes the dedicated special features disc provided with the recent Ultimate Edition Blu-ray. The result is an outstanding set of extras, from the informative Jackson/Philippa Boyens commentary through to over 13 hours(!) of behind-the-scenes documentaries and footage.
Extras rating: 5/5

We say: This superb Ultra HD release combines stunning pictures with a suitably gargantuan set of extras.

King Kong, Universal Pictures, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £35