Is Hathaway’s kaiju thriller a colossal success or failure?
Colossal is a movie that is directed by indie director Nacho Vigadolondo which can loosely be called a science fiction thriller. This is because it is a kaiju creature movie albeit not your typical Godzilla type one. It has Anne Hathaway on board as an executive producer as well as starring. Also, starring alongside is Jason Sudeikis. Anne plays Gloria, a hard-partying alcoholic who lives in the big city with her boyfriend. Being that Gloria is always drinking, she never seems to have time to be sober much when she is with her boyfriend. There is also the fact that she may be taking advantage of him by throwing parties in their apartment whenever he is off at work. He kicks her out after he is done with dealing with it. Down on her luck, Gloria returns to her hometown to get her life back together. She eventually reunites with her childhood friend, Oscar (played by Sudeikis). Being a bar owner, Oscar provides her a job there. The only problem is that she is an alcoholic, so working in a bar is a risky venture. That being said, the crew drinks every night at the bar after they close it down. After one night of drinking, Gloria wakes up at her house only to find out a giant kaiju creature has attacked downtown Seoul, South Korea through the news. This creature only appears at specific times though before disappearing into the ether after each incident. The increased media coverage drives up business at Oscar’s bar. This is where Gloria begins to figure out that she has some sort of connection to the Kaiju of Korea.
This is such a brilliant, original concept I must say! Being that it was on limited release nationwide, I hoped that it would playing somewhere locally. Fortunately for me it was. I was so excited to see this. It seemed like such a nice refreshing change of pace. The trailers promised a sort of romantic comedy with a touch of science fiction a la the kaiju action. That sounded like a great idea to me. Going in, my expectations were high… probably higher than they should have been. The enticement, of telling my friends how great and intelligent this unknown movie is, was tremendous. Of course, I wanted to seem smart for “discovering” this seemingly awesome movie. There was no question that I would love this film. So how come I left the hall, with conflicted thoughts about it?
One of the more glaring setbacks of this film is the bait and switch that it pulls on you. The expectation, after watching the trailers, is that this is a comedy. I thought this would be a quirky take on the kaiju genre which it is for bits and pieces. However, this is a more serious tale that has to deal with personal demons, such as alcoholism and “toxic masculinity” (the trendy phrase being thrown around). I’m not against the serious tone which this movie eventually takes on but it plays it very awkwardly. It’s also jarring when you expect one thing and it gives you something else. There is kind of a bad taste that it leaves in your mouth.
Being that this is a smaller budgeted movie, we don’t get much of the kaiju monster. This is also fine as Colossal plays its hand very well in terms of when to show it. The thing is the explanation for its appearance might have been better left mysterious. When they do try to explain it, it comes off as muddled and cliché. The ending is also forced. Logically there are questions as to how this all gets wrapped up. Once you understand the mechanics of how this universe works, you’ll also find yourself scratching your head at the all to convenient ending.
There are positives to be derived here certainly. This is a nicely shot film using whatever shots it shows well considering the budgetary constraints it has. We get some fantastic performances in this one from Hathaway and Sudeikis. Anne Hathaway is good at playing our flawed heroine, but the real star is Jason Sudeikis. He is presented as a sidekick in trailers but he is very much one of our main characters. His performance was very captivating if not completely unexpected. I would say this film is worth checking out if only for him. The Kaiju when shown is very fun. The destruction it causes is mostly left off screen for anyone who might be bothered by stuff like that.
Ultimately this movie falls under the weight of the lofty expectations promised by it’s bizarre premise. We don’t get what we were promised and what we do get is faulty. The human toll that is inflicted on everyone is a significant factor in terms of the moral narrative presented. Everyone is flawed and capable of causing destruction, yet everyone but Gloria is held accountable for their actions. All the men are portrayed in a very negative light here. So is Gloria but she gets off the hook for her crappy behavior because she has a “good conscience”. The monster is supposed to be a metaphor for Gloria’s problems except that it isn’t a metaphor. It’s very real as is the destruction caused by it. Humans have suffered because of her careless behavior but since she is our hero it’s all good. For a movie that tries to be more serious than it should be, this is its ultimate downfall.