Directed by Nacho Vigalondo
Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens
Film Review by Brian Degning (@brian_degning)
Colossal is not easy to put into a genre; part ‘giant monster movie’, part ‘feel good’ film and part ‘relationship drama’, it contains the hallmarks of all three and this is in many ways the film's strongest asset and biggest failing.
Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a struggling writer with a drinking problem who parties too hard causing boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) to kick her out. Alone and frustrated she returns to her hometown where she reunites with childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who, as fate would have it, happens to run a bar. As the film steers in one direction suddenly we find a strange connection between Gloria and a huge, rampaging monster who is terrorising Korea. As Gloria begins to find out more about the ‘Monster’ she starts a journey of self-discovery and…well to say any more would spoil things and this is certainly a film best viewed without knowing much about it, suffice to say the story is as strange as you may expect.
The biggest surprise out of everything is the performance of Jason Sudeikis, beginning as the usual ‘funny friend’, he thrives in a role that has many more layers than expected. His delivery and screen presence take a character that could be pantomime and make him real. Dan Stevens is solid enough, although an actor of his talent has every right to expect to be given more to do. Of course, the central performance of Anne Hathaway is the most important and she is, well, fine. Never seeming desperate enough, or distressed enough, to be an alcoholic she does hit the right emotional notes necessary to be a strong lead.
Visually everything looks great, the contrast between the small-town drama and the fantastical city destroying action is executed well, edited tightly and scored appropriately. The rest of the film, however, struggles badly to mesh the different ideas and tones quite as effectively.
At the midway point of the film there is a particularly jarring shift in story that felt like a different film. Suddenly the original, funny, sweet film goes very dark and a character changes so quickly it feels like a few important scenes had been cut from the middle. For a film that varies so much from big action to small comedy it really didn’t need psychological drama thrown into the mix. While Colossal is filled with original ideas and is comfortable with the story it wants to tell, the result seems like three different ingredients mixed together to produce and interesting but not very tasty cake.
Good performances, some nice character moments and a star turn from Sudeikis, along with big ideas are enough to enjoy this film. And while it should be applauded for having the bravery to try something different, it does suffer from a lack of commitment to a central tone.