King Kong Deluxe Extended Edition—Universal

Video: 4
Audio: 4
Extras: 4

Peter Jackson not only creates elaborate special editions of his movies, he lets audiences know that bigger, better versions are in the works when the initial theatrical cuts first hit the store shelves so we can choose wisely. He did it with his Lord of the Rings trilogy and now with his King Kong remake, offering a subsequent director’s cut with new extras that complement the original release.

Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic, the movie’s running time is now about 13 minutes longer. This was enough to warrant splitting it across two discs for noticeably less image compression, although the picture still leans curiously toward blue. The added and enhanced scenes show more of the trials and tribulations on Skull Island, including a longer version of the supreme gross-out insect-pit scene. Plus, there’s more of the big ape’s first (and last) visit to the Big Apple. Unlike the extended Rings DVDs, there is no DTS track here, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 remains a full, powerful, active track for a major-studio adventure film.

The bonus materials were worth the wait. There are 37 minutes of additional deleted scenes at near-final quality, a vast assortment of bloopers, looks at vaudeville and the many homages to the original Kong, and an Easter egg. The third disc carries detailed behind-the-scenes footage with an emphasis on all the preproduction work. In a nice bit of DVD-ROM, you can read and print the 2005 shooting script, as well as the very different 1996 draft.