Flamboyant, foolhardy documentary filmmaker, Carl Denham, sails off to remote Skull Island to film his latest epic with leading lady, Ann Darrow. Native warriors kidnap Ann to use as a sacrifice as they summon "Kong" with the local witch doctor. But instead of devouring Ann, Kong saves her. Kong is eventually taken back to New York where he searches high and low for Ann, eventually winding up at the top of the Empire State Building, facing off against a fleet of World War I fighter planes.
For more about King Kong 4K and the King Kong 4K Blu-ray release, see King Kong 4K Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 13, 2017 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Andy Serkis
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Codec: HEVC / H.265 (46.54 Mbps)
Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p)
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Three-disc set (1 BD-100, 2 BD-50)
UV digital copy
iTunes digital copy
Bonus View (PiP)
4K Ultra HD
Slipcover in original pressing
Region A (B, C untested)
King Kong's UHD release offers a substantial upgrade over the previously released VC-1 encoded Blu-ray, even as the UHD is not perfect and has likely been sourced from a 2K digital intermediate. The movie occasionally struggles to maintain an organic, filmic, natural look, partly due, it seems, to various visual effects shots and inserts that show their inherent weakness on the format. There's a certain artificiality to parts of the movie, particularly around those digital backgrounds. Closer, real textures sometimes suffer, too, but to a much lesser degree, with a sense of flatness and smoothness that often gives way to a much sharper presentation. The increase in sharpness and clarity over the Blu-ray is remarkable. There's a richness to complexity that's never apparent on the Blu-ray. Every element -- skin, period clothes, physical props -- reveal a high level of enhanced clarity beyond the 1080p image. It's a remarkable boost, for the most part, particularly once one gets beyond that artificiality that hangs over various scenes. The level of increase in clarity is often breathtaking. HDR color improvements are obvious as well. Greater color distinction and vividness are obvious from the get-go. Shading and saturation are much more fluid, highlights are more precise, and transitional nuance is greatly improved, particularly in many of the first act's more amber-influenced scenes. Jungle greens are not quite so brilliant but they are more lively and more richly saturated. Backs -- Kong fur or shadow detail on some of the darker terrain in the movie -- are much more firm and stable. Flesh tones are fuller and much better defined. this is a substantial improvement over the Blu-ray. Note that the review score for the Blu-ray dates back many years and is from a different reviewer. A lower numerical score for the UHD is not an error but rather an unavoidable limitation of the scoring system.
The film's previous DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack was well-received at the time it was reviewed and holds up very well today. The DTS:X Master Audio track isn't a revelation over it but the improvements and refinements are evident and the increased spacing is a major boost. Certainly the film's many thunderous effects, those bass-heavy, furniture-rumbling moments are maintained here with an added benefit of improved spacing along three axes. What was thunderous then remains thunderous now, but with an increased sense of fullness and natural vitality. But it's perhaps the jungle atmospherics where the track finds its calling. The sense of wide-open place is greatly expanded here with all of the minor, but mood-critical, little insect, flowing water, blowing foliage, and scampering creature details creating a more believably rich and expansive atmosphere. Listeners are pulled into the world alongside the party, immersed in the world in a way that is perhaps even more crucial to the film than the improved clarity the UHD video offers. Indeed, both action and environmental elements feature greatly improved coverage and saturation, more seamless movement and more precise location specific placement. With dialogue remaining firm and well prioritized, this is nothing short of an outstanding track from Universal.