It seems pretty obvious to anyone that really knows me that a movie that involves a giant monster (kaiju) will likely be on my “must see” list. And writer/director Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal has the interesting twist of having that monster’s movements decided by a woman half way across the world just adds to the intrigue. But I have to say, despite Colossal being an interesting film, at some point it felt like it took a turn that didn’t feel quite right.
Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, a woman that is in the middle of a downward spiral in life. After losing her job a year ago, she’s been spending her time drinking too much, she’s basically out of money and not trying too hard to find another job. Her boyfriend, sick of it, kicks her out of his New York City apartment. With no other options, she moves back to her hometown. When news reports surface that a giant monster is attacking Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this creature. As events in her life begin to spin out of control, Gloria must determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world.
When I saw the trailer for Colossal I thought it looked funny. That’s because the trailer was pretty funny – it made the premise look funny. And, indeed, the film starts out that way. The cast is excellent. Anne Hathaway, whether you like her or not, is still a fine actress. She plays Gloria, a writer that lost her job and hasn’t worked in a year and is now rather adrift in life. Tim Blake Nelson (Garth), Dan Stevens (Tim), and Austin Stowell (Joel), are solid. And Jason Sudeikis is excellent here as Oscar, Gloria’s childhood friend who starts out as the every man that everyone likes. But as the film progresses, we see Oscar’s true colors. Sudeikis ends up playing against type for him.
I felt like the idea of Gloria being connected to this monster across the world in Korea was really interesting at first. And it was funny – every movement Gloria makes, the monster makes. The monster appears at the same time – 8:05 am where Gloria is – and in the same location – a playground in her hometown where she goes to figure her life out. When she tells her little group of friends, Oscar, Tim, and Joel, about what she has discovered, it’s really funny. I admit, I laughed out loud fairly often in the first half of Colossal.
But then, things take a dark turn. Like, not funny anymore dark. Sudeikis’s Oscar has issues. You feel sort of betrayed by him, and rightfully so, but the shift in tone – and I usually am on board with dark – feels somehow inorganic here. The shift seems too forced. Things felt more natural as a comedy.
Writer/Director Nacho Vigalondo makes a good film here, but it just didn’t quite resonate with me the way I wanted it to. I highly recommend his first feature film TImecrimes. That’s a great movie. Colossal gets a marginal three kittenhands from me. I’d rather have seen this as less dark comedy and more just comedy. And that’s a weird thing for me to say. I would, however, be interested in hearing other people’s thoughts on Colossal. I think it’s going to be a matter of taste.
~ Neil T Weakley, your average movie-goer, getting ready for the Fate of the Furious!