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Review: "Colossal" (2016)


Title: Colossal (2016)

Genre: The film's IMDB page lists action, comedy, drama, fantasy, and sci fi, which are all accurate, but I'd say that the film is mainly a drama with a sci-fi premise.

Director: Nacho Vigalondo

Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Stevens

Grade: A-

In a Nutshell:

Following a difficult break-up and a career downturn, NYC party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway) returns to her hometown to live in her abandoned childhood home. Right away she runs into Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), an old friend who now owns and operates a bar. Oscar offers Gloria a job waitressing, and helps her get back on her feet. This is when things get weird. A giant kaiju-type monster attacks Seoul, and the world is reeling. Through a series of odd coincidences, Gloria realizes that the monster only appears when she is at a certain place and time (in a nearby park at exactly 8:05 AM), and that she, in fact, controls the monster. It moves as she moves, and in an oddly hilarious scene, dances as she dances. The plot is further complicated when Gloria finds out that Oscar also has some strange connection and control over a monster – a giant robot that appears in Seoul alongside the Kaiju. The rest of the film revolves around the relationship between Gloria and Oscar, which is mirrored in the (literally) destructive relationship between their avatars on the other side of the world.

The Critique:

Although on the surface, Colossal is a new twist on the giant monster versus giant robot genre that has existed for decades, the film is really about the struggles of addiction, control, and abuse. Without giving away too much of the plot, I would say that the most interesting elements of this film aren't the big, showy fight scenes between the kaiju and robot, but the quieter moments of tension that build between Gloria and her ex, Tim (Dan Stevens of FX's Legion) and between her and Oscar. The sci fi premise of the film, although 'explained' in a flashback, requires a pretty significant suspension of disbelief from the audience, but if you're willing to roll with it, the movie will reward you with some genuine laughs, thrills, and plenty to talk about once the credits have rolled.

My only complaint about the film is that the ending – the final showdown between robot and monster – felt a bit too predictable, which normally wouldn't be an issue for me. But one of the greatest accomplishments of Colossal is that it takes a tired genre and completely flips the script, denying predictable outcomes throughout. Minus those final 15 minutes or so, this is probably the most original, unpredictable, and flat-out crazy film I've seen in years.

Shout-Out(s):

The acting! Jason Sudeikis manages to somehow play both to and against type simultaneously, proving that just beneath the affable exterior is hiding something more serious, and possibly even dangerous. Anne Hathaway is a brilliant mess, her personality doled out through minor gestures and tics, which subtly express her anxieties and regrets. Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Stevens, and Austin Stowell respectably fill out the rest of the main cast.

To Go, Rent, or to Netflix:

As the title implies, Colossal is definitely worth watching on the big screen.

Photo Credit: Toy Fight Productions

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