It’s hard not to enjoy Nacho Vigalondo’s genre-twisting, kaiju-comedy Colossal based on sheer creativity, but that alone isn’t enough to make up for the bizarre choices he makes in terms of storytelling and plot development.
Colossal had the potential to be a truly fantastic film. We follow a raging alcoholic—played by a dazzling Anne Hathaway—as finds out she also can control a monster that is destroying South Korea. It’s just unfortunate that the general premise isn’t even the part that’s hard to understand.
At first the film is a comedy; Gloria(Hathaway) spends her nights partying and arriving far past sunrise to her disgruntled boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) who finally cuts the cord. Clearly a mess, Gloria returns to her hometown where she meets childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who just so happens to have a job for her…at his bar.
You can see where this is going right? Her addiction is gonna be fueled, she’ll probably fall in love with Oscar and she’ll finally overcome her problems just in time for them to get married or whatever.
She finds out she’s somehow in control of a monster causing havoc in South Korea through some weird connection with the playground she walks through every morning. The movie wouldn’t make it so easy that she just avoid that section of town entirely and the whole world will be fine.
No, that would be far too simple—instead it turns into more of a look at domestic violence, childhood memories, and even our social media usage. Yep, you heard me.
So in terms of story, themes, and tone, Colossal is all over the place. At first you’re told it’s about her alcoholism, but that isn’t quite it. Then you assume it’s gonna have something to do with the monster, but that isn’t it, either. Once the true problem arises, it’s such a divergence from everything you once expected—and much darker—that the movie becomes almost an entirely different entity than it first started as. That’s saying something about a monster movie.
It’s hard to root for Gloria because she’s so self-destructive, but it’s hard to root against her after you see what she’s up against. Hathaway and Sudeikis both turn in superb performances, with the former reminding us why she’s an Oscar-winner and the latter giving us a whole new side to his acting.
Ultimately, Colossal suffers from an identity crisis—it just has too hard of a time figuring out what it wants to be. A look at alcoholism through the lens of a mismatched genre-mashup, an examination on domestic abuse, a critique on our uses of modern day technology—all of these things need to be examined separately. Colossal tries to do it all at once, resulting in a lot of half assed efforts against a building-sized monster.