Colossal (2017) Neon/Sci-Fi-Action-Comedy RT: 110 minutes Rated R (language) Director: Nacho Vigalondo Screenplay: Nacho Vigalondo Music: Bear McCreary Cinematography: Eric Kress Release date: April 14, 2017 (Philadelphia, PA) Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson, Hannah Cheramy, Nathan Ellison.
I’ve seen some strange movies in my life and Colossal is one of them. Try to imagine Trainwreck as a kaiju film; that’s a pretty good description of this effort from writer-director Nacho Vigalondo whose work can be seen in the horror anthologies The ABCs of Death (“A Is for Apocalypse”) and V/H/S Viral (“Parallel Monsters”). Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) stars as Gloria, a NYC party girl who discovers she’s connected to a recent series of events in Seoul involving a giant Godzilla-like monster. How she’s connected, you won’t believe. While not wholly successful, Colossal blends two incongruous genres into one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen this year.
Gloria stumbles home after a night of drinking and partying with her friends to find that her boyfriend Tim (Stevens, Beauty and the Beast) has had it with her irresponsible behavior. He has her suitcases packed and wants her out of their apartment immediately. With no boyfriend, no job (she wrote for a blog until she was fired for not checking facts) and no place to stay, Gloria returns to her old hometown upstate and takes up residence in her parents’ vacated home. She runs into her old childhood friend Oscar (Sudeikis, Horrible Bosses) who offers her a job in the bar he inherited from his father. Bartending isn’t the ideal profession for a recovering alcoholic but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of career opportunities in this town.
One morning, Gloria wakes up to hear that a giant monster has attacked Seoul. Colossal wastes no time in establishing that Gloria and the monster have some sort of psychic connection. It appears in Seoul when she sets foot on a nearby playground at 8:05am. When she moves, it moves. When she scratches her head, it scratches its head. Then the monster disappears into thin air. Obviously, the monster is a projection, a physical manifestation, of her issues. When she shows this to Oscar and their two drinking buddies, Joel (Stowell, the Dolphin Tale movies) and Garth (Nelson, O Brother, Where Art Thou), they’re kind of impressed. With this discovery, Gloria realizes she too leaves a great deal of destruction in her wake and resolves to change her ways. That’s not going to be easy, especially in light of what happens next.
Colossal takes an abrupt turn in mood and tone when Oscar finds out Gloria’s not into him as much as he is her. It becomes rather dark as Oscar starts losing his grip on sanity; at one point, nearly destroying the bar with an old firework he sets off in front of customers. It’s a misstep that the movie from which the movie never fully recovers. What keeps the movie afloat is Hathaway who’s very good as a severely damaged not-so-young-anymore woman trying to fix her broken life. Many still see her as the heroine of family-friendly movies like The Princess Diaries, Ella Enchanted and Hoodwinked. I still recall her amazing performance in Rachel Getting Married where she plays a character similar to Gloria except for the whole monster/projection thing. Hathaway has incredible range; she’s also a daring soul as evidenced by Colossal (which she also executive produced). Not many actresses would take on such a role.
Sudeikis is good as Oscar, the kind of old friend that shows exactly why some people should remain old friends. His character has a nasty, sinister edge from the get-go. Stevens also contributes nice work as the respectable boyfriend who re-appears midway through in an attempt to take her back. The CGI effects in Colossal are used sparingly. We don’t get a lot of lingering views of the creature rampaging through Seoul. The movie isn’t about that. It’s about one woman’s attempt to repair the damage she’s done to her life before her projection takes more lives. For the most part, Colossal is a good movie. It’s definitely original. I can safely say I’ve never seen a movie quite like it before. What I mean to say is that I’ve seen its parts as other movies but never combined into one. Who knew that a cousin of Godzilla could possess such strong psychological implications? I wonder what Freud would have to say about it. This one has definite cult potential!