Kong: Skull Island trailer: load of monkey business

The Skinny | 17 Nov 2016

The trailer for the latest remake of King Kong (this will be the ape's eighth movie appearance, by our count), starring Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson offers up a very different beast. We hope you love the smell of monkey in the morning

The king of the jungle is back! Just over a decade since Peter Jackson’s reverential (and sadly mediocre) remake of the 1933 classic, we have a new take on the iconic giant primate with a weak spot for blondes. Unlike Jackson, however, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts doesn’t slavishly follow the original movie.

For one thing, we don’t seem to be following a director and his film crew looking for the rumoured Skull Island, but a platoon of army grunts led by Samuel L. Jackson, who look like they’ve just stepped off the set of Apocalypse Now. The images of napalm-dropping helicopters making Kong cranky add to the suggestion that Vogt-Roberts is nodding towards Coppola's classic – although here the choppers fly into battle to the sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival rather than Wagner.

There’s also John C Reilly as a Kurtz-style figure, who’s already gone native on Skull Island by the time the troops arrive. Unlike Marlon Brando’s AWOL colonel, however, Reilly doesn’t seem to have gone insane yet, which is lucky as he seems to provide most of the trailer (and we presume the film)’s exposition. He handily informs us that “that’s Kong. He’s king around here” and that there are even more terrifying prehistoric creatures to contend with – he calls them “skull crawlers” – who live below ground.

There’s a lot to like here. First of all, the film looks gorgeous, with the 70s setting rendered in crisp colour. Second, it looks both scary and funny. As Vogt-Roberts showed with his indie debut The Kings of Summer, an energetic coming-of-age film following three teen pals who run away from home and set up house in the woods, he’s a deft touch when it comes to marshalling tones and genres. Maybe a comic-horror war movie is just what’s needed to make the Kong story feel as fresh as it did back back in 1933 when he was a stop-motion puppet hanging from a model of the Empire State Building.

Let’s hope so, because rumour is we’re going to be seeing a lot more from the hairy brute when he faces off against the Godzilla we saw is Gareth Edwards’ 2014 movie for Kong v Godzilla.

Let us know your thoughts on this first full Kong trailer in the comments below.