All of us have things we’re not proud of. Sometimes they’re simple things, sometimes they are big and complex. Regardless of who you are, at some point in life, those things you’re not proud of are going to have to be dealt with in some way or another. But what if those things manifested themselves as a giant monster destroying a city in South Korea?
Colossal, directed by Nacho Vigalondo, is a strange film. It’s a Kaiju (giant monster) movie, a romantic comedy, a coming-of-age tale, and a psychological study all at once.
It follows Gloria (Anne Hathaway) as she moves back into her childhood home when her boyfriend kicks her out for staying out all night drinking every night rather than finding a job. Immediately she runs into Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) a childhood friend who happens to own a bar in town and he invites her to hang out for the evening at his bar. Here we meet his friends Joel and Garth (Austin Stowell and Tim Blake Nelson) and the crew spend the entire night drinking and enjoying themselves until Gloria trudges home in the morning. The next day Gloria discovers that that morning a giant monster materialized in Seoul, South Korea and laid a path of random destruction before finally disappearing as mysteriously as it appeared. As the film goes Gloria discovers that the monster is mimicking her every move when she walks through a park in town.
All of this can generally be seen in the trailer for the film so consider this your warning that:
From here, spoilers will follow
As the film moves on Gloria studies her connection to the creature and we learn that Oscar also has a counterpart in the form a giant robot that will appear when he is in the same park. Gloria uses the consequences of her drunken stumble through the park in which she unwittingly kills an undisclosed number of people as a means of breaking her drinking problem and slowly reassembling her life. Oscar on the other hand irresponsibly determines that his giant robot is something of a fun puppet, putting the two at odds for the first time in the film.
This is when the tone shifts and we finally see the darkness inside of Oscar that has been hidden by the overly friendly nature of his character we’ve been exposed to thus far. He begins to act abusively toward his friends and when Gloria seems ready to challenge him he threatens to wander through the park and cause more mayhem in Korea. He slips into a constant drunken state and begins to reveal his strange obsession with Gloria.
To avoid ruining the climax and finer points of the film I’ll end my synopsis at this point.
I started off by saying that this was a strange film. Sometimes that can be a good thing, sometimes bad, in this case, it’s absolutely a good thing though. The myriad of concepts mixing together make for something that feels incredibly original and the shifts in tone lent depth to what could easily have been a simplistic comedy that, while original, failed to leave much of an impression. The impression here was huge though, as I find myself still analyzing the film in my head, thinking and re-thinking the messages and ideas I was left with.
Where this movie really shines is in the acting. Anne Hathaway delivers on the dramatic and comedic elements with the complex and believable Gloria and Jason Sudeikis proves that he’s an actor to watch for his versatility in the role of Oscar. The two of them fill the screen with their presence as much as the enormity of their giant counterparts in Korea. Sudeikis becomes genuinely terrifying as he channels the psychotic breakdown of Jack Torrance from “The Shining” in the latter half of the film. Anne Hathaway transitions gracefully from a complete mess to a bad-ass independent woman who doesn’t need no man by the climax of the film. If there’s anything to truly gush about in this film, it’s the combined performance of these two.
You’re probably wondering about the special effects aspect too — since this is partially a giant monster movie after all. I can say that for an indie film like this, the CGI work was stellar. It’s not going to win an Academy Award for best visual effects, but it’s charming and well executed for the purpose of the film.
While I could have used a bit more of the monster sometimes, I didn’t feel cheated by what I was given. To be perfectly honest, this was on-par with “Pacific Rim” in terms of visual effects which is saying something for a movie that probably cost quite a bit less.
Overall, Colossal is a pretty damn good movie about many things. It’s about relationships, addictions, mental health, and sometimes giant monsters destroying cities. It’s not a perfect movie but it is something unique and this day and age that definitely accounts for something. If you’re looking for a giant monster slugfest, go turn your brain off and watch “Kong: Skull Island”. If you’re looking for something with the heart that will make you have to think then don’t miss Colossal.