Voltage Pictures 110 Minutes R
It’s not necessarily big, but Colossal is colossal. The monsters that are in it are large but colossal also means of great consequence or monumental. This film is in some ways. It’s a comedy, and a Sci fi thriller that keeps turning on a dime. You’ll be in a booze induced fog like Anne Hathaway’s Gloria. We were kept in a fog, too, wondering what was going on and why for awhile. But then it kept getting more interesting.
Writer/Director Nacho Vigalondo (Extraterrestrial, Timecrimes), grew up in Spain but was drawn to Asian Kaiju giant monster films. He also was drawn to romantic comedies. So he decided to mix the two. The monsters came first for the director and thence created the characters whose actions would keep the audience guessing. The director says he knew Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis would be able to create the comedy, and then the tension he needed to pull the audience into the story.
This role for Hathaway has been compared to the depressed young woman back from rehab laced with comedy in Rachel Gets Married. Here, again, she is going through a personal crisis and is very human. No glam here. Gloria is a major f-up. She’s an alcoholic who lost her job as a magazine writer a year ago. She escapes by partying and lying constantly to herself and everybody else, including her exasperated boyfriend, Dan Stevens as Tim (Downton Abby, The Guest). Tim is no prince like the one he became in Beauty and the Beast. He’s patient to a point but finally kicks her out and she goes from exciting New York city back to her small home town. She has to sleep on the floor of her parent’s empty home.
Gloria bumps into her old elementary school buddy, Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis, who shows his serious side in this film. First it’s all congenial and light, but then turns into something very different. This film becomes a sci-fi, suspense thriller with a psychological backstory. You’ll be wondering where this is going, and you'll have to suspend belief a bit to be fully entertained, but it’s worth it.
Oscar, seeing she’s down on her luck, tries to help in his own brash way. He gets her a futon to sleep on and a giant TV to watch and a job. She ends up working for him in the bar he inherited from his parents. Not a great place for an alcoholic, but she tries to stay on the wagon.
Oscar has two buddies, Joel and Garth played by Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies, Whiplash) and Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother Where Art Thou, Lincoln). They are pretty expendable from the middle of the film on. We don’t think they added a lot to the plot. They are just ok n’er do wells who hang, and drink, with Oscar. They get to react when Gloria realizes the remarkably cool but horrifying power she has all the way on the other side of the world.
When she goes to the old playground near the school where she and Oscar played as kids, she discovers that the gestures and movements she makes are actually controlling a huge, gruesome monster that is wreaking havoc crushing the city of Seoul, South Korea. Hundreds of screaming innocent citizens are also in its path.
Gloria’s TV and cell phone turn out to be a necessity. Broadcast news and social media play a large part since that's how Gloria gets to see the fruits of her movements. When she is in the playground and moves, so does the Monster, in exactly the same way. She keeps this new found power to herself until just the right time when she needs it to fight another monster. How did she get this power? Ah hah! Does it have something to with she and Oscar's childhood?
Hathaway does a good job playing spacey and bewildered at first wondering if this is for real. She’s cute and funny! Why does she have this power and what can she do with it? Hathaway was pregnant at the time of the shoot and says that definitely helped her get the ditzy look as Gloria, especially when she was supposed to act drunk. This is also a very physical role, but Hathaway says she was super careful, especially during the fight scene.
This has a well structured plotline that mixes dysfunctional people, friendships, monster flicks, and comedy. It takes us on a twisted but very satisfying adventure. The effects aren't blockbuster CGI with action like you’d see in a $100 million extravaganza. But they didn't have to be because it was more important that they just told the story in simple terms while adding a B-Movie flavor. No need to show off big special effects. Actually, the monsters themselves were pretty old school in the vein of Godzilla. Hathaway and her big buddy across the miles mimicking each other will make you laugh. Director Vigolando has created a monster, but is it a what or a who? We think you’ll have fun seeing this flick to find out.