In one of the most original indie sci-fi films in recent memory, “Colossal” is a genre bending exercise in sheer creativity and inventiveness. This exquisitely strange and cleverly original film is part romance, part monster movie, part revenge thriller, and is all but guaranteed to confuse and frustrate anyone who buys a ticket thinking they are going to see a quirky comedy (they’re not).
The movie tells the spectacularly weird story of unemployed, often hungover party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway) who, after being dumped by her live-in boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens), is forced to move back to her hometown in upstate New York. She hangs out and pounds beers with her childhood frenemy Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) and his group of loser pals (Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell). When a giant monster suddenly appears in South Korea, Gloria finds herself connected to the deadly attacks by the kaiju. The insignificance of her existence suddenly becomes relevant when she’s forced to grow up (and rise up) to save the people of Seoul — as well as herself.
This film is a peculiar psychodrama of sorts, reveling in the harsh reality of self-destructive behavior and finally offering its flawed characters a chance for redemption. This is a multi-layered story with some especially dark themes of alcoholism, toxic relationships, and mental abuse, including an unsettling and slightly off-putting anti-feminist tone. The story starts out a bit playful and fun, but then turns into an exceedingly creepy and disturbing tale. Sudeikis shows great range by going through a character transformation from a totally chill bar owner into an unstable, controlling sociopath. It’s unpleasant to watch because you’ll come to realize that none of the characters are particularly likeable in the first place.
“Colossal” suffers from two considerable flaws that I find impossible to overlook. One, the film has some serious pacing issues. It’s slow to start and takes nearly half an hour before it gains footing and things start to pick up. Two, writer / director Nacho Vigalondo tries so desperately to explain every little thing in the story by attempting to wrap up the multitude of plot lines, but he ends up creating even more gaping plot holes in his wake. This would be a much stronger movie if not so many explanations were given. To this end, half of the film is cleverly executed but the other half nearly sinks the entire project.
And that’s where the movie really stumbles: in the details. There are lots of important particulars and specifics that go unanswered, and it’s such a big deal that you simply can’t ignore it. Even the eventual reveal as to the “why?” of Gloria’s connection to the monster doesn’t make much logical sense, and it’s more than a little dumb (and a bit lazy) in terms of screenwriting.
Still, this is one clever and original movie that is worth seeing. Do yourself a favor and don’t read any reviews or watch any previews before you see it. I’ve tried to make this write-up spoiler free because the true joy of this one is in the discovery.