I’ve been a huge fan of giant monster movies for as long as I can remember. I’ve also been a fan of Anne Hathaway since I saw her in The Princess Diaries when I was growing up (don’t laugh!). Imagine my surprise when I first heard Anne Hathaway was going to headline a monster movie. I had no fucking clue what to expect; then I saw the trailer, which left me expecting a straight comedy. Don’t be fooled by the trailer, Colossal is far from your typical comedy… its a different beast entirely.
Colossal is the latest film from writer/director Nacho Vigalondo (Time Crimes 2007). The film stars Anne Hathaway (Passengers 2008), Jason Sudeikis (We’re The Millers 2013), Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies 2015), Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou? 200o), and Dan Stevens (The Guest 2014).
Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is an out-of-work girl who, after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown. When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events 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.
The trailer for this movie sells it as a comedy with some Kaiju elements. That isn’t exactly the case. The film starts as a fairly typical comedy, following a young woman returning to her hometown to try to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and reconnecting with an old friend. This left me with the false sense of security that this would be a feel good movie, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, it stars that way, but then it pulls the rug out from under your feet and becomes something much darker. The film isn’t afraid to deal with such themes as alcoholism, emotional and physical abuse, people trying to control others, and self hatred, which are all dealt with realistically given the fantastical nature of the film.
Anne Hathaway absolutely kills it as Gloria a is likable, funny and generally a good person, while simultaneously being a complete fucking mess. She doesn’t see the negative effect that she is capable on having on others until confronted with an extreme case, in which she makes an honest effort to deal with her various issues and tries to better herself, as well as go out of her way to protect others. Jason Sudeikis is a actor who has always been hit or miss with me, but I was pretty impressed with him here. His character, Oscar, seems like a great guy, going out of his way to help Gloria at every turn. That’s before revealing himself to be a man being eaten alive by self-loathing, to the point where he wants to control others, using mental and physical abuse if necessary, even using innocent people as leverage to get his way. I’ve never seen Sudeikis play such a deep and fucked up character, but I really dug it. I would love to see him do more serious roles. He definitely has the chops.
Tim Blake Nelson provided some much needed levity, and I really enjoyed his character. It’s just a shame that, once his character gets something to do other than being comic relief, you never see him again. Dan Stevens feels wasted and miscast here as a character that feels like he is supposed to be sympathetic, but just comes off douchey overall. Austin Stowell does a good job as Hathaway’s potential love interest, but the character comes off as lacking a backbone and is basically written out, as well.
The origin of Gloria’s connection to the beast feels a little underdeveloped and makes little sense. Most of the Kaiju scenes are shown via a TV, cellphone, or laptop screen, which is fairly disappointing, but when we do finally seen them up close and personally, they are a sight to behold. We aren’t treated to your standard, end-of-movie monster battle, but instead we get a deeper, emotionally satisfying and unconventional finale. There are some deep and dark moments, but the films ends on a fairly upbeat and inspiring note.
Colossal was not at all what I expected. I thought I was going to see a typical comedy, but instead got a much deeper and more rewarding film. The cast, for the most part, does a great job of bringing emotional weight to the film, with Hathaway and Sudeikis being the high points. If you are looking for something a little different and left of center, then I highly recommend you give Colossal a shot.