March 9, 2017 / 9:15 PM / 5 months ago

Noble, sympathetic Kong reimagined for 'Kong: Skull Island'

Cast member Samuel L. Jackson poses at the premiere of "Kong: Skull Island" in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 8, 2017.Mario Anzuoni

(Reuters) - King Kong is back again - not climbing the Empire State Building clutching a distressed damsel in his colossal clutches, but as the mighty protector of a remote island in the 1970s.

"Kong: Skull Island" opens in movie theaters worldwide this week as the 8th installment of the screen classic. It depicts a group of explorers and Vietnam-era soldiers on a secret mission to an unexplored Pacific Ocean island that turns out to be the home of Kong and other man-eating creatures.

The new movie, starring British actor Tom Hiddleston as a renegade adventurer and Oscar-winner Brie Larson as an anti-war photographer, is a far cry from the original 1933 version.

But Hiddleston says the story retains it enduring appeal.

"He (Kong) represents the power of nature and its capacity to inspire wonder and terror that's both somehow noble and majestic, but also it can be destructive and scary," Hiddleston told Reuters Television.

In the new film, Hiddleston said "there's something very sympathetic about him."

Director of the movie Jordan Vogt-Roberts poses at the premiere of "Kong: Skull Island" in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 8, 2017.Mario Anzuoni

"Kong is often always minding his own business doing his own thing until the balance of his life is interrupted by mankind. And it's as if he's a metaphor for the way human beings disturb the balance of nature," the actor said.

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts said he felt the pressure of reimagining the King Kong story "every second of the day."

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"You're playing with an icon of cinema and you're playing with pop culture," he said.

"There's been so many retellings of the story. So to break away from that, to not tell the beauty and the beast story, to not tell the same Kong story that we've seen over and over again and to do something new with it - that's an incredible amount of freedom and yet it's a very scary thing," he added.

Special effects bring Kong to life not just as an anatomically correct ape but "a capital-M movie monster who stands on two feet (and) carries himself with a nobility like a god," said Vogt-Roberts.

The movie ends up partly being a story of man versus nature, where the humans, unlike superheroes, have no special powers.

"The real superpower in this film is human ingenuity, right? So how are these humans going to engineer their way into taking this god down? I loved the idea of man versus gods ... And men versus nature," the director added.

Reporting by Reuters Television, editing by G Crosse

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