King Kong: Premium Collection Blu-ray review

In an age of effects-led cinema appearing to prioritise spectacle over emotional involvement, it's a treat to revisit director Merian C. Cooper's classic monster movie; this 1933 fantasy proves it's perfectly possible to give audiences the best of both worlds.

Having been around for the best part of 85 years now, as well as spawning a vast number of remakes, spin-offs and rip-offs, it's seems pointless repeating the film's plot all over again. Suffice to say that this tale of unrequited love between a giant ape (Kong) and a Depression-era gal (Fay Wray) is now the stuff of legend, its many story-beats and set-pieces enshrined in the history of film.

What is worth reiterating is the brilliance of Willis H. O'Brien's stop-motion creations. It's thanks to his artistry that Kong transcends being a mere special effect and delivers a performance full of heart and soul, turning a creature flick into something much more affecting and – ultimately – tragic.

No wonder, then, that Kong remains a pop culture icon, and one that Hollywood keeps brushing off every few years in the hope of recapturing the magic of this original outing.

Picture: A direct port of the 2010 US Blu-ray, this belated UK release sports what is best described as a sympathetic 1080p presentation of its imperfect source material. Much effort has clearly gone into restoring the film, but there was no way anyone would ever be able to do anything to combat the fluctuating density and grain levels, not to mention the inherent softness, that affects so many of the model shots. However, this is completely unavoidable and really shouldn't put you off buying this Blu-ray, as the 1.37:1 transfer is still the best we can remember the film ever looking.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Once again, the Blu-ray does the best it can with the source material. The DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack can seem a bit thin and tinny at times, but also boasts a clarity and a range that is quite remarkable for a film of this vintage.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: Living up to its 'Premium Collection' billing, this Blu-ray offers plenty of bonus goodies. On the disc itself you'll find a commentary from special effects legends Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston intercut with archival interviews with Fay Wray and Merian C. Cooper; an engrossing 159-minute Making of… documentary; a recreation of the missing 'Spider Pit' sequence; and an hour-long profile of Cooper. The set also includes a handsome 36-page booklet
Extras rating: 4.5/5

We say: Film fans will go absolutely ape for this terrific Blu-ray package.

King Kong: Premium Collection, Warner Bros., All-region BD & R2 DVD, £15 (HMV exclusive)