Review of “Colossal”

Things have not been going well for Gloria (Anne Hathaway) for about a year. She lost her job as a writer for a web magazine, her drinking is getting more and more out of control and her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) just threw her out of his apartment. With nowhere to go and no money, Gloria heads back to her childhood hometown. Her parent’s house is unoccupied and empty so she crashes there. While walking home after purchasing an air mattress, Gloria sees her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) driving past in his truck. Recognizing her, he stops and they chat briefly about their lives. Oscar inherited his father’s bar and invites Gloria to ride with him on his way in to open. There she meets Oscar’s friends and drinking buddies Joel (Austin Stowell) and Garth (Tim Blake Nelson). The four stay at the bar until morning and Gloria walks home with her air mattress slung over her shoulder. Waking up late in the afternoon, Gloria checks her phone and sees reports of a giant monster in Seoul, South Korea that has caused massive damage and some deaths. The monster first appeared in Seoul 25 years earlier but hadn’t been seen since. Now it is back, causing panic not only in South Korea but around the world. Watching the videos shot by eyewitnesses, Gloria notices something about the way the monster moves. It looks very similar to how she was walking while carrying her air mattress. Frightened and curious, Gloria retraces her steps and discovers she was walking through a nearby neighborhood playground when the monster appeared. Gloria returns to the park at the same time the next day and goes through a series of arm movements. Back at her house she watches the videos of the monster posted that day and sees it is making the exact same movements. Somehow, Gloria is connected to the monster or it to her. Is she responsible for the death and destruction in Seoul? Gloria decides to share this information with Oscar, Joel and Garth and provides a demonstration as they watch live streaming coverage on their phones. An accident leads to an even more shocking discovery as well as the uncovering of a decades long secret.

“Colossal” was written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo who has contributed segments to “The ABC’s of Death” and “V/H/S: Viral” as well as writing and directing some feature length genre movies in his homeland of Spain. This is his second English-language feature after 2014’s “Open Windows.” Looking at his body of work, Vigalondo enjoys making films that mash genres together. One of his films is described as a science fiction romantic comedy. Another is a cyber tech thriller. “Colossal” could best be described as a domestic drama kaiju film. It is also quite good.

The movie doesn’t get all that deep in the monster stuff until late, giving star Anne Hathaway time to shine. Gloria is a mess of a person and she is trying to avoid taking any responsibility for her problems. Despite being a potentially tragic and depressing character, Hathaway’s performance (and Vigalondo’s writing) makes Gloria’s messiness endearing. She’s like a small child in a grown-up’s body trying to live in an adult world. Watching her grow, learn and change is the highlight of the film.

Jason Sudeikis is also amazing in “Colossal.” His character starts out as a small-town boy living a small-town life; but as the movie progresses we see a much darker side of Oscar and that transformation is believable and frightening. By a point late in the film you can’t be sure what exactly Oscar is capable of and when he shows his true colors it is both maddening and scary. Sudeikis is a subtle actor that is deceptively good at playing angry and dark under a friendly veneer. You don’t expect his turn and that makes it all the more effective when it happens.

While the story takes a little while to develop it is well worth the wait. Vigalondo’s script takes its time in doling out the information and waits until nearly the very end to lay all its cards on the table. It’s a slow and satisfying burn that left me wanting to know and see more. I think I’ll have to see what’s available on streaming of his work and immerse myself and all things Vigalondo. There isn’t that much so it shouldn’t take too long.

If you’ve watched my YouTube review of “Colossal,” then this won’t be news so you might want to skip this paragraph. Legion M was involved in the distribution of the movie. They are a fairly new company that used crowdfunding to get started. I purchased a few shares when I saw their posts on Facebook. I realize this causes a conflict of interest for me as I stand to eventually gain financially if the movie does well at the box office and Legion M continues to grow, is successful and is bought out by a larger entertainment company one day. All this is likely far off in the future and I could just as easily lose my investment. I wanted to make sure this was understood and to also say I’m not the only person that thinks the film is unique and entertaining as it has good scores on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. As always, each individual is the judge of what they see and if they like it.

“Colossal” is rated R for language. Foul language is scattered throughout the film. There is also some violence that could be especially upsetting for those who are domestic abuse survivors.

Once the story fully plays out “Colossal” is a pretty down to Earth tale of finding oneself after what you thought was your life falls apart that also happens to involve giant monsters destroying downtown Seoul. It may seem like an incoherent mess but “Colossal” is an easy movie to watch, understand and enjoy.

“Colossal” gets five stars and a giant kaiju roar.

All other releases this week are getting out of the way of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” so that’s what I’ll see and review next.

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