COLOSSAL

We certainly don’t get enough kaiju films. Everybody needs their form of escapism, and those are mine. Enough with the comic book films! Bring on the monsters! I get why they don’t work for everyone, though. They usually lack strong stories, or notable characters; the monsters themselves being the most interesting aspects. What happens when you make a kaiju film that focuses on thematic depth and characters first, and the monster second?

Well, you get Colossal, which follows Georgia (Anne Hathaway), a depressed alcoholic who just got fired from her job and dumped by her boyfriend. Lost and alone, she decides to return to her home town to restart her life. Upon returning and reconnecting with some childhood friends, a gigantic monster begins appearing in Seoul, South Korea. As the monster continues to appear each day, Gloria realizes that she is actually the monster, and in complete control of it. Not only does she need to put her life back together, but now also needs to figure out how to handle this newfound power.

Sounds like a fun, quirky movie, right? Well, it’s really not. It’s actually quite depressing. Now, I wasn’t expecting this film to be all laughs and weirdness. There has to be some sort of emotional core, and the film primarily finds it through Gloria’s destructive alcoholism and how she escapes it. Anne Hathaway is fantastic playing a woman trying to piece her life back together, realizing her issues damage not just her, but everyone around her. Whenever she goes on a drunken binge and returns to the neighborhood playground where she becomes the monster, destruction and death happens, although she doesn’t mean it. It’s a fascinating way of at looking at the issue of addiction and its consequences.

There are a lot of interesting themes throughout, such as addiction and abusive relationships, but they’re not serviced by the narrative, or the rest of the characters at all. Jason Sudeikis plays an old childhood friend of Gloria, whose character takes a sharp turn in the middle and becomes almost a completely different person. Sudeikis gives a layered performance, but while his character’s motivations make sense, they make his character seem really inconsistent. He brings upon a very hard, sudden tone shift halfway through the film, where I actually was surprised with how dark it got. I love a good dark comedy, and was laughing quite bit during the first half, but I felt the second half didn’t play a lot of it for comedy at all. It was just so dour. Having a depressing film is fine, but initially treating the dark aspects with some levity, then with none at all, doesn’t really work.

I understood what writer/director Nacho Vigalondo was going for, but it begs the question of why even make this bizarre film about a woman controlling a kaiju at all? It’s almost like he wanted to tell a story about a woman dealing with addiction and abuse, but wanted to make it stand out from the rest. On the flip side, he may have just wanted to make a kaiju film and realized he needed to add the human element to it. I appreciate the novelty of the concept, and the way it tackled its dark themes, but it never fully worked. It almost felt like I was watching a completely different film at times.

It’s frustrating, because there’s a lot to like in this film. It’s endlessly creative and the twists and turns it takes within its own logic are a lot fun. The performances are fantastic from across the board. The themes are interesting and especially relevant today, but it just all doesn’t come together into a cohesive whole at all. It’s a shame when such an interesting concept isn’t completely well executed, but I like seeing filmmakers and actors of the caliber like Anne Hathaway taking a risk on such a bizarre project. It shows they actually care about the craft, not just the money, and I respect that. While not a Colossal failure, it certainly could have handled all of its interesting ideas much better.

5/10

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