King Kong roars and punches his way back into theaters with "Kong: Skull Island." But don't expect the same old story of "Girl meets Ape" this time around. The new and improved Kong is a very different beast, with lots of monsters that will become very acquainted with his fists.

So sit back and allow us to break down everything you need to know before watching "Skull Island."

1. It's a Reboot
King Kong is one of the oldest characters in Hollywood, and he's been rebooted quite a few times over the years. "Skull Island" is just his latest freshening-up. This new movie isn't directly connected to any of the past Kongs, whether it's the original 1933 "King Kong" or the 2005 remake. It's a fresh start for both moviegoers and the giant ape himself.

2. You've Never Seen a Monster Movie Like This Before While "Skull Island" is rebooting the franchise again, it's not simply recycling the same plot. Rather than culminating with Kong being dragged to New York and making his fateful skyscraper climb, this movie looks to be set almost exclusively on Skull Island. Fans will get a much closer look at the deadly Skull Island ecosystem and the various beasts Kong must battle to maintain his throne. So, if you like your fights of the ape-vs.-evil lizard thing variety, then Christmas comes early for you this year.

3. Think "Apocalypse Kong"See that poster above? The one that should be hanging on your wall right now? It's a Kong-ified version of the iconic poster from the classic Vietnam film, "Apocalypse Now." And that's a hint to the level of action and direction of story on display here.

"Skull Island" shares one thing in common with 1976's "King Kong" in that it takes place in the 1970's Hopefully that's all the two share in common...

The 1973 setting is crucial. It gives the main characters a leg-up in terms of the weapons and technology they're able to bring to bear against Skull Island's vicious inhabitants, but it's not so far in the future that it's impossible to believe there could still be a hidden island full of dinosaurs and giant apes. Plus, "Skull Island" is said to have (at times) a kind of psychedelic, very "Apocalypse Now"-inspired vibe.

4. It Stars Loki and Captain MarvelThe would-be blockbuster wisely upgrades the cast of human characters, too. Most of them are soldiers or scientists, rather than hapless tourists in search of fame and fortune.

Tom Hiddleston stars as James Conrad, a disillusioned Vietnam War vet who's hired on as a hunter-tracker for the expedition. Samuel L. Jackson plays Preston Packard, the leader of a helicopter squadron known as the Black Devils. Brie Larson plays Mason Weaver, a war-time photographer, who ends up literally in Kong's clutches -- after developing a sort of respect for the beast.

The cast also includes John Goodman, as the member of shady agency MONARCH responsible for the expedition to Scary Monster Death Island, and John C. Reilly.

5. Kong Is Not a Bad Guy
He may be a giant ape, but Kong has always been treated as more of a tragic, misunderstood hero than a true monster. That approach doesn't appear to be changing here.

He's being presented as the last survivor of a race of giant apes who were wiped out by Skull Island's more bloodthirsty inhabitants. Over the course of the film, our heroes will come to learn that Kong is their ally, not a beast to be exploited.

6. Yes, it Shares a Universe With Godzilla Thanks to Marvel Studios, shared movie universes are all the rage. "Skull island" is not only rebooting the King Kong franchise, it's also a crucial building block in Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment's "MonsterVerse." It's basically a big-budget commercial paving the way for Kong and the Big Guy (above) to share the screen. (There's even an end-credits tag ensuring that.)

This shared universe was born with 2014's "Godzilla." Following the release of "Skull Island" and 2019's "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," the MonsterVerse will culminate with 2020's "Godzilla vs. King Kong."

We don't know what will cause these two titans to clash, but we fear for anyone caught in the middle of that brawl.

"Kong: Skull Island" hits theaters Friday. Get your tickets now.

Kong: Skull Island Movie Poster
Kong: Skull Island
PG-132017
Based on 49 critics

Scientists, soldiers and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean.... Read More

categories Movies