Colossal 2016 Review: The film is best enjoyed for Hathaway’s enjoyably over the top performance
Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul. She gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon.
Being a man in a Nacho Vigalondo movie is a dangerous occupation. Even the guys who initially seem to be reasonable always let their baser side show in the long run. And just as no instinct for his characters is too low, no concept is too high for Vigalondo. Who has thought nothing of taking on time travel and alien invasion on a rock bottom budget. He doesn’t just think big, he thinks Colossal (Co Gai Va Ga Khong Lo) – and this time, its Japanese Kaiju-style monsters that are in his sights.
The film begins with a prologue, introducing a Godzilla-type creature stalking through Seoul. A sequence that only slots into place much later in the film. Flashing forward 25 years, we’re introduced to Anne Hathaway’s Gloria. A hot mess whose drinking has reached such proportions that her British boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) turfs her out of his Manhattan apartment – yet another of those impossibly luxurious lofts that nobody in New York can afford except in films.
Gloria heads back to her empty family home in a small town upstate. With virtually nothing but the shirt on her back. Help seems to be at hand, though, after a chance encounter with an old school buddy. Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who not only offers her some furniture but also a job at his edge-of-town bar. It seems as though things are finally heading in the right direction for her but working in such close proximity to alcohol is not a good plan. And Gloria soon finds herself on after-hours benders with Oscar and his pals Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) and Joel (Austin Stowell) before stumbling home alone.
The film is best enjoyed for Hathaway’s enjoyably over-the-top performance
Flipping the TV on after a particularly heavy night. She begins to think she is losing it when the news tells her that a giant monster has been terrorising Seoul. As she would tell you it’s certainly a head-scratcher. But one that she suddenly realises is linked precisely to her own drunken staggering through a local playground in the early hours. Her ‘monster’ emotions are literally manifesting themselves on the other side of the world. And there’s definitely a kernel of a good idea here. As Vigalondo suggests the collateral damage that one person’s problems can have on the wider community. Albeit taken to the most absurd proportions.
The idea of inadvertently killing people is, not surprisingly. A sobering thought but it’s at this point that Oscar’s true colours begin to shine through. He likes having Gloria at his beck and call and the appearance of a giant robot alongside her Kaiju gives him all the emotional ammunition he needs. Vigalondo’s film is very funny in places but the characters are undercooked. As Oscar morphs into a real-life monster of sorts. There is huge scope for laying bare the inadequacies of modern life. But the director seems content to keep things small. And rely on the ridiculousness of it all for laughs. Oscar’s transition also seems too abrupt. While the explanation of what caused the whole thing in the first place wouldn’t be out of place in a CBBC drama.
The film is best enjoyed for Hathaway’s enjoyably over-the-top performance. Its absurdist humour and sheer bravura premise. It’s just a shame Vigalondo didn’t make the emotional terrain of the film as complex as his set-up.