Hopefully, everyone's having a safe and festive Holiday weekend here in the US (for our international readers, Happy Regular Old Monday!). We're two weeks out from Kong: Skull Island landing on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, a 4K/3D Best Buy Exclusive SteelBook, Blu-ray 3D, and Blu-ray (there may be other exclusives, but those are the big ones), and I wanted to give you a quick preview of what to expect from a visual and audio standpoint.
This 4K preview is based on the VUDU UHD version of the film, which is presented in 2D with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos hemispherical surround sound, both of which elevate the action-packed monster mayhem to demo-worthy levels. More on this in a second.
How's the movie? Oh my god, SO SO FUN!
I'll leave the full in-depth reviews to Phil Brown, who covered the theatrical release HERE, and Moises E. Duarte, who will be reviewing the flick across various physical media formats, but I think Phil's punny subtitle sums up the experience perfectly:
Imagine the Vietnam War tropes established in Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece fused with your favorite Kaiju Movie. It's a non-stop thrill-ride of exotic locations and nasty beasties fighting for a chance to eat our human characters, who are just specific and empathetic enough for us to care about them while they crash and run and hide and fight back with flamethrowers and machine guns.
It's not quite an elevated affair, a monster movie that transcends its genre, but if you grew up watching Godzilla movies and enjoyed the universe established with Gareth Edwards' Godzilla in 2014, I think you'll enjoy this one too. Much like Pacific Rim, Kong: Skull Island taps into the sensation of being a kid when watching monsters felt larger than life itself, dare I say REAL, even if some of the set-pieces are a touch too long. Still, I liked it even more than the recent Godzilla reboot, which was a too dour and serious at times for me, and hope Legendary keeps going with their monster universe.
Either way, Kong: Skull Island gets two paws up for well-crafted spectacle and overall fun factor.
[UPDATED 7/17/17]: There was a rumor that Kong: Skull Island's 4K Blu-ray would be in Dolby Vision too, but this did not turn out to be true, which is a shame because VUDU's 4K Dolby Vision presentation is FANTASTIC. [END UPDATE]
Dolby Vision best shows its visual might with aggressive color palettes, and Kong Skull Island oozes color from the very first frame. With lush green jungles and a warm, almost-sepia-but-also-almost-puke-green grading, the movie is awash in colors you won't see on standard dynamic range displays. Everything from John Goodman's yellow cab to the orange storm of ballooning fireballs to Kong's midnight-black fur look is bright and brilliant and eye-popping. Blacks levels and contrast are also on point, delivering both on shadow details and specular highlights. Compared to the standard HDX (1080p) presentation, the Dolby Vision iteration not only looks more pleasing to the eye thanks to its wider color gamut, but I would argue the visual effects look more weighted.
Now, I have pretty spectacular Internet (around 200Mbps), so I generally have no troubles running VUDU UHD, as was the case here, but if Kong looks this great on streaming, I can only imagine what the full 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray will look like in HDR10 and/or Dolby Vision. Exciting stuff. Definitely an impending demo disc, no matter what format you buy.
Kong: Skull Island's Dolby Atmos mix isn't the best I've ever heard, but it's very aggressive throughout and comes a few pegs short of reference titles like Mad Max: Fury Road, Pacific Rim, and Gravity.
Outside of noting that this isn't one of the greatest sound mixes of all time, Kong: Skull Island offers a wonderful sense of hemispherical immersion. Helicopters fly overhead and around the room. Monsters stomp and roar and fight above your head. Bullets and bombs fly in all directions. And, Henry Jackson's classical-yet-modern score envelopes like you're in the middle of a symphony. All of it works together to haul you out of your seat and into the movie's sonic universe. Yes, the movie's visuals are often breathtaking, but it's Dolby Atmos that gives Kong: Skull Island its scope, with each new action set-piece presenting another demo-worthy sequence to wow audiophiles and show off your Dolby Atmos system.
Unlike some recent films -- like The LEGO Batman Movie -- Kong: Skull Island does not feature what VUDU calls Extras+ with your UHD purchase (or, at least, nothing showed up in my account). I'm not sure if this will remain true after street date, but there's nothing to watch here unlike, say, the iTunes (HD only) version which includes "almost an hour of iTunes Extras."
I didn't really know what to expect going into Kong: Skull Island, but this monster movie is an inventive genre mashup that 's sometimes clever, sometimes dumb, but always a whole lot of fun. If you enjoyed Gareth Edwards' Godzilla or grew up with loving monster movies, you'll probably enjoy this one too.
In terms of value in purchasing the VUDU UHD version, at this point it makes more sense to hold off and wait for the 4K Blu-ray (pre-order HERE) or 4K/3D Best Buy SteelBook (pre-order HERE). That way, you'll get the 4K disc, a Blu-ray HD copy, all the bonus features, AND access to this VUDU UHD version with Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos...
HOWEVER, PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN REDEEMING YOUR DIGITAL HD WITH ULTRAVIOLET REDEMPTION CODE.
Sorry for the all-caps, but I didn't want anyone to miss the warning. I recently redeemed our UHD code for The LEGO Batman Movie directly on the VUDU website and, even though some others have done so successfully, I only ended up with the HDX version in My Movies. I believe some of our readers have experienced similar with other Warners titles as well, which is a shame.
1) MAKE SURE you follow the redemption instructions exactly as they are on the paper-insert and it should work out fine (it'll most likely be a wb.com/redeemdigital link).
2) If something goes wrong, reach out to WB Movies All Access (fka Flixster) to help correct the error. They actually have pretty fantastic customer service (VUDU was useless because they're limited by their studio contracts) and were able to fix my LEGO Batman UHD issue.
Either way, get excited, monster movie fans. Kong: Skull Island will be here soon so, if you haven't already done so, please consider supporting us by Pre-Ordering your copy directly through High-Def Digest (links above). It doesn't cost you a single cent extra, and is a big help for us. Cheers and thanks so much for reading!
- Discs mentioned in this article: (Click for specs and reviews)
- Kong: Skull Island - 3D (Blu-ray)
- Kong: Skull Island (Blu-ray)
- Kong: Skull Island - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (Ultra HD)
- Kong: Skull Island - Ultra HD Blu-ray (3D/4K Best Buy Exclusive SteelBook) (Ultra HD)