By Chris Campo
Indie comedies, or "dramedies" as they're also known, have a special place in my heart. They're often hard to seek out and find in a theatre and have little to no budget or effects. What makes them so great is that they focus on their characters and ability to tell a human story. On the contrary, Kaiju movies are usually big, dumb and expensive films you see for giant monsters and not so much the characters. What makes them so great is that they always manage to put a smile on your face, entertaining you like you're a child playing with toys again. If you take the mentality of both genres and mush them together, you get Colossal. Yes, it does admittedly sounds strange, but if your willing to accept it, it just may blow you away.
Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is currently undergoing a losing streak. Not only is she out of work, but her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) has kicked her out of his apartment due to her drinking problem and is forced to move back to her home town. Upon arriving, she runs into Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who was once her childhood friend and now runs a bar. He offers her a job and they quickly kindle a new friendship. This may sound like something straight from the Hallmark channel (JACK NOTE: What the hell is the Hallmark channel?), but there's something I'm not telling you. Gloria soon discovers not only that there is a gigantic monster destroying South Korea and killing countless people, but that she is somehow connected to the monster and is inadvertently controlling its every move.
What drew me into Colossal was it's wacky and quirky premise. I'm all for seeking out weird films and supporting original ideas, so this was right up my alley. And what a weird and original film it is, and it's damn awesome, too. This movie is brilliant in nearly every aspect. Perfect? Maybe not so much, but I still had a blast in the theatre and got a little more depth than I was initially expecting. The movie balances fun and seriousness so seamlessly. It's hard to not be immediately sucked into the film's world, and it doesn't take much to get a handle on its rules. There are also plenty of surprises to be had. I had to drive quite a while to see this film and I can happily say it was worth it.
I'll admit, writer/director Nacho Vigalondo hasn't done too much to impress me in his career. I hear his film 'Timecrimes' is good, but I've never got around to it. After Colossal, however, I've found myself to be eagerly anticipating whatever he has coming up next. For starters, this is one hell of a script. To make a movie this off the wall you have to be bold and smart and Vigalondo nails it. This is a fearless script, and it doesn't hold back any of its weirdness or irreverence. It's also not afraid to get dramatic and sometimes quite dark, and it nails that too, for the most part. A script like this needs a good director, and considering the writer of this directed the film as well, it's pretty obvious that he did a damn fine job directing this beast. Not only is the film a treat to look at, but Vigalondo pulls a handful very fun performances from the actors.
Anne Hathaway has always been a phenomenal actress in my book, and she is not only great here as well, but she's having a ton of fun. She's great in both the comedic scenes and in the dramatic scenes. It's probably her funniest character to date. She's fascinating to watch grow as a character. There's two smaller characters, played by Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell, who are just fine. They have some funny moments, but for the most part are underdeveloped. The second most developed character, outside of Hathaway's Gloria, is played by Jason Sudeikis, and he, as per usual, is very good in his role. However, Sudeikis's character takes a rather abrupt turn in this film that's quite dark, and while I grew to appreciate it, it was kind of jarring and took a few scenes to fully buy into. It's a type of role Sudeikis is not usually cast in, but he still delivers a fine performance.
Another small flaw I found was the pacing. The film is structured very well and has a fun way of telling it's story and delivering necessary information to the viewer, but it does pump the brakes towards the latter half of the second act. It never becomes a bad film, just one you wish would speed it up a tad. Also, and this is a real small flaw, but there's a small detail in the third act that bothers me, which I can say without spoiling anything, so I will; so a giant monster is attacking South Korea, but never is the city seen being evacuated. There are always civilians out living their lives every time there's an attack by the monster. It's not that big of a deal, but it doesn't add up when you think about it.
It's almost a crime how little I've talked about the actual monster in this film so far. It's awesome, and the CGI is also surprisingly terrific. It may not look as good as Godzilla or Kong: Skull Island, but still, it's damn good. We don't see the monster too much, maybe a little more than we see Godzilla in the 2014 remake, but when it's on screen, it's very, very fun. It's mostly seen through news footage until the very end, where we see a final battle of sorts that isn't really a final battle. The ending of this film absolutely blew me away, though. Something is introduced in the second act that has been hidden from all marketing, and I when it was revealed, I wasn't sure how it would fit in to the overall story, but man, it has a damn cool payoff. The ending was so brilliant and so bold that I was giddy, shaking in my theater chair. To top off the amazing finale, the final line is just icing on the cake and made me laugh out loud one more time before leaving the theatre.
Whether you're a fan of indie comedies or big Kaiju movies, there's something for you in the gleefully bizarre film Colossal. While I may have minor issues with it, I cannot wait to revisit it, and have a sneaking suspicion that a second viewing will result in a .5 bump in my final score. We need more wacky, unique movies like this. They're more daring than most films these days, even if they're a bit weird. Colossal is by no means a perfect movie, but it's a pretty brilliant one.
3 1/2 Stars
Like the article? Make sure to spread the word on social media.
You May Also Like: