In amongst the tentpoles and huge blockbusters that generally begin to populate the multiplexes from this time of year onwards, Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal offers something entirely unique and original, a commendable feat in itself but this film also manages to pull it off greatly.
The film follows Anne Hathaway’s Gloria who, after being kicked out by her boyfriend for drinking and being out too much, returns to her hometown in an attempt to start afresh. There she reconnects with her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) and starts work at his bar. However, once a giant monster begins to wreak havoc in Seoul, her life takes a drastic turn as she begins to notice alarming similarities between her behaviour and the monster’s, beginning her on a quest to solve the mysteries and attempt to save the lives of the people in Seoul.
This is a clever twist on the monster movie; our heroes, those arguably most closely involved in the monster attacks, actually reside on the other side of the world to the murderous happenings. It is unexplored territory and shows a brilliant sense of imagination. Yet this film is less about the fantastical goings on than it is about the humans behind it. Morals, histories and relationships all become the central focus, but with the added higher stakes of their behaviour impacting this monster in Seoul. It is a fantastic set-up that whilst fantastical is also grounded in very real humanity.
The film exhibits brilliant performances from its central pair of Hathaway and Sudeikis, each flexing their dramatic chops as well as showcasing their comic talents. Hathaway stands out as she crafts a real character as well as portrays her emotional fluctuations brilliantly, and Sudeikis excellently shows a side we don’t see very often as his character transforms over the course of the film. Sudeikis’ character arc may feel a little sudden to some, although the seed is planted quite early on, hinting at what is to come. The two leads are supported well by those around them, although Dan Stevens does feel a little wasted in his role as Gloria’s (ex-) boyfriend. The cast helps to carry you through the occasional uneven patch in the film, ensuring it doesn’t ever really drag.
The film’s trailers are slightly misleading; this is not an outright comedy. It has some funny moments and starts of lightly enough, but it spirals into darker territory as the film goes along, shifting tone, although keeping a peppering of lighter moments in. The film is also much deeper than it may initially appear. It successfully feels like, at least in part, a metaphor for issues such as alcoholism and even domestic abuse (or abusive relationships), although these do become slightly muddled at times, but this depth is yet another layer that makes this film so different. It also provides some interesting (and scarily accurate) commentary on how we view and process news, focusing in particular on our ignorance of the reality of horrors abroad, as well as how quickly we move on from a big story to the next thing.
The result of Vigalondo’s unique vision is a thrilling and gripping monster movie come dark comedy come human drama that will not be to everybody’s taste, but will likely delight fans of the odd and unique.