Review by Paul Preston
There’s nothing out in cinemas right now quite like Colossal. A metaphor, an allegory, a monster movie, a social comment comedy, it’s unique to say the least. Pile on good execution and it’s worth checking out. But look for it diligently, this is an Anne Hathaway movie, but it by no means has a wide theatrical release.
Hathaway plays Gloria, introduced as one of those selfish big-city drunks who comes home from a night of partying without a care in the world of how it affects others. Unfortunately, it’s the last straw for her live-in boyfriend, who kicks her to the curb and Gloria has to move back to her hometown. She settles into her old house and is helped by Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) to re-gain her footing with a bartending gig and some furniture.
Then, another movie happens as there’s a GIANT MONSTER ATTACK in Seoul, South Korea. Hathaway is a fine actress and the authentic shock at seeing the otherworldly encounter is well-played. The film then steps into Charlie Kaufman territory and asks, as most Kaufman does, that you buy into a truly crazy premise, along the lines of a company that can erase specific memories in your head or finding a portal that takes you inside the head of actor John Malkovich. Describing the premise of Colossal, I believe, is a bit of a spoiler in itself, but let’s just say that there’s a connection between the giant monster attacking South Korea and the alcoholic jilted lover recouping her life in a small American town. Buy into the premise as strongly as the film itself does, and you’re in for a treat.
Safe to say the movie is shooting high. And writer/director Nacho Vigalando does an admirable job of giving his plot the right jolts of comedy and drama where each is needed, all the while keeping his story and its consequences truthful, despite their outrageousness. In the end, the film has something to say about personal responsibility and how self-destruction can lead to destruction around you (this type of metaphor lifts all the best sci-fi from boring monster fare).
Anne Hathaway takes a role that really isn’t catered to her and makes it her own anyway, but for those who see it, they’ll really be witnessing a coming out party for Jason Sudeikis’ diversity, as his character takes a sharp turn (perhaps too sharp) in the middle of the film. The actor known for being a man-child or a quirky wise-ass has more in him and it’s on display in Colossal.
One benefit of an independent-sized film longing to be science fiction or fantasy is that the visual effects have restrictions, and restrictions are glorious. Shots of Korea look like the streets of Korea, without having to CGI everything up and tossing in a million extras. There are people running on the street. Actual people, and the movie’s better for the practical effects in that case. The monster (and other giant creatures) are CGI, but the seams don’t show on the visual effects. They don’t look “good enough for low budget”. They look good, period.
There are a few plot lines that don’t go anywhere to where I wondered how they factor into the end result and…I couldn’t come up with anything. But those stray moments aside, this is a well-crafted and highly original movie among one of the more creative of 2017, which has already delivered otherwise a load of sequels and remakes.
Directed by: Nacho Vigalando
Release Date: April 6, 2017
Run Time: 110 Minutes