Image Entertainment // 2001 // 960 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Victor Valdivia (Retired) // July 24th, 2009
16 fun-packed hours in this collectible box!
Note: The following journal was recovered from Skull Island, where Judge Victor Valdivia went to review the DVD release titled Kong: 5-Disc Collector's Box Set. This journal is all that remains of that mission.
July 11, 2009:
I embark on a perilous journey. This set contains all forty 22-minute episodes of 2001's Kong: The Animated Series on four discs as well as a 2006 feature-length movie titled Kong: Return to the Jungle with the same characters on the fifth disc. That's a lot of animated Kong, but I am cautiously optimistic. After all, I'm a huge fan of the classic 1933 film King Kong and was reasonably satisfied with Peter Jackson's 2005 remake, or at least the first eighteen hours of it that I saw. I even sat through the Dino DeLaurentiis 1976 remake and was somehow able to not go completely blind (the doctors tell me I can hope to recover almost 58 percent of my vision!). In other words, I'm willing to endure a lot for another version of King Kong. Plus, even though the case makes this look like a tacky cheapo kids' show, I recall from watching the Land of the Lost DVDs that just because a kids' show has crummy visuals doesn't mean that it can't still be entertaining, as long as talented writers and show runners are in control.
July 12, 2009:
I've begun watching the first episode. My optimism has begun to fade. Here's the idea: This version of Kong is actually a genetically engineered clone of the original King Kong put together in a lab by a female scientist. Her grandson (let's call him "Timmy," mainly because I don't recall and don't care what his actual name is) grew up with Kong as his best friend and is now going to college with a fat surfer dude who likes pineapple pizzas and karate. Their archaeology professor tags along when the two return to Skull Island to visit Kong and is revealed to be a villain who once kidnapped the scientist to recover some magic stones that have magic powers except when they don't. They're aided by a native girl on the island who claims to be her tribe's shaman (although she's actually the only native on the island), and she has bright red hair, green eyes, and white skin, and she talks to all the animals by screaming. This episode also introduces how the series is going to make a giant ape who can't speak a regular protagonist: Timmy and Kong are joined by a DNA earpiece that, when activated, merges them together into either a super-sized version of Kong with Timmy's brain, or Timmy with all of Kong somehow magically fitting inside him. If any of that makes sense, I didn't tell it right.
July 16, 2009:
This series is haunting me. The utter lack of continuity: At one point, the villain has his own DNA earpiece and merges with dangerous creatures like bears and tigers, but is then thwarted when Kong smashes his earpiece. Minutes later, he has the exact same earpiece again and uses it without any problems. The mind-numbing repetition: Hey, did you gather that Timmy's surfer friend loves pineapple pizzas? Because every other line out of his mouth is "This isn't as much fun as eating a pineapple pizza!" or "I like that idea! It's almost as good as a pineapple pizza!" or "I'd rather be eating a pineapple pizza right now instead of being mauled by a giant carnivorous brontosaurus!" (Don't ask). I'm getting night sweats, terrors, screams -- some nights I can't sleep at all. Some nights, I can't even remember my own name. I must find a way to escape.
July 17, 2009:
I have finally made it all the way through the first episode. I'm beginning the second one and am cautiously optimistic.
July 20, 2009:
It's not just run-of-the-mill bad, like most cheapo cartoons. Kong is so aggressively stupid, it's almost daring the audience to have any emotional or intellectual involvement in anything that's happening. The villain is always traveling around the world trying to find people to help him decipher how to use the magic stones, except that whenever he does get to some exotic location, like Paris or London or Cairo, his solution is always the same: kidnap White Native Girl and get her to decipher the stones. Did he really need to travel so far to figure that out? There are shots of a completely clear, cloudless, starry night sky, and then, all of a sudden, bolts of lightning strike from out of nowhere. Kong fights a giant gargoyle on top of the Eiffel Tower, but no one calls the police or even takes a picture. C'mon, even the French aren't that jaded! This mission is becoming a grueling ordeal. Morale is dropping by the minute, although I have noticed a sharp uptick during those minutes when I press "Stop" on the DVD player. I don't think I can take much more of this.
July 21, 2009:
Halfway through Disc Three, I give up on the series. What with the storylines involving mystical lava monsters, talking harpies, French gun runners, Australian poachers, giant gargoyles, and the lost city of Atlantis, I became disoriented and dehydrated. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the rest of the show is not going to suddenly become what we in the DVD reviewing biz call "Not-Nearly-So-Vomit-Inducing." (Sorry for using such technical jargon). Instead, I pop in Disc Five to check out the full-length movie Kong: Return to the Jungle. The plot involves a famous big-game hunter who travels to Skull Island and captures every single dinosaur and prehistoric mammal there, including Kong, and ships them back to a zoo he's built in New York. Then the twist is that he deliberately built the zoo to be defective so that all the creatures would escape into the city so he can then hunt them down. That's a spectacularly stupid plan. Why not just hunt them on Skull Island? Even better, given that the hunter came up with an army of giant robots and nets to capture every single creature on the island, why didn't he just use all that firepower to take over the island and rent it out for other hunters to use? Plus, are we actually supposed to sympathize with Timmy's grandmother, a supposedly respected and conscientious scientist who wants to keep an island populated by extraordinary and unusual creatures secret from the entire world? Aw, the hell with it. The more I think about this dumb movie the more I want to throw the whole set off the nearest waterfall.
At least the technical transfer is decent. All the discs are presented in original 1.33:1 full-screen and look nice. The original series was animated with hand-drawn cel animation but the movie was done with CG, so the transfer on that looks sharper, although the actual animation quality is clunkier and less attractive. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix is nice and loud, making it even harder to avoid hearing the awful dialogue. There are no extras, thank God. Still, some primal urge is calling to me, from the jungle, in my blood. I'm tempted to finish watching Disc Three to see if it gets any worse than what I've already seen. Maybe I've already gone mad and don't even realize it.
July 22, 2009:
I am spent. I have not eaten, slept, or drunk water in days. It's not because there's no food or water available, but because I'm so shell-shocked at how awful this show is that I have forgotten how to feed and nourish myself. The other day, while looking for a way off Skull Island, I came across a giant chasm, with steep walls that looked at least a mile high, studded with jagged rocks, festooned with giant poisonous thorny plants, and inhabited by massive flesh-eating insects that will slowly and painfully eat and digest me alive. I looked at the chasm, and then I contemplated watching Disc Four. I think the chasm is easily my best bet.
Here the journal ends. No other trace of Judge Valdivia has yet been found. Those of you with a religious or spiritual bent should pray that he went off to a better place. Specifically, a place where Kong: 5-Disc Collector's Box Set is not and has never been released or even made. It's that bad. No one, anywhere, ever, should spend good money on it.
Please...remember my story.
Review content copyright © 2009 Victor Valdivia; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 960 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated