Colossal puts me in the incredibly difficult position of wanting to tell you all about a movie without actually providing you with any meaningful details about said movie. I went in to it having seen an approximately 60 second long trailer and read a very brief plot synopsis. Even that felt like maybe it was a little too much. That's not to say this movie couldn't be enjoyed otherwise but having not even the slightest clue what was going to happen from scene to scene added so much to the experience. I'm viewing this review as a personal challenge so let's see what happens.
I feel like the buzz surrounding Colossal has been going for quite some time. I saw writer/director Nacho Vigalondo's 2014 movie Open Windows movie (you can find a review for it in the archives of this very site) and was pretty lukewarm on it. He did have the only decent segment in the dreadful VHS Viral at least, but Colossal is something very different. Billed as a sci-fi comedy, I need to state outright that maybe you shouldn't go in expecting a gut-busting, rollicking good time. That's the way I convinced my wife to watch this movie and it became clear very quickly this is not a laugh-out-loud comedy. Not because it tries to be funny and fails, but because it often is not even interested in telling jokes.
Ok...how to describe the plot of this movie in a way that makes it intriguing but also gives away nearly nothing. Alright, here goes. Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is an alcoholic writer living with her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens), who is growing increasingly tired of her behaviour and excuses. Pretty quickly into the movie he has broken up with her and tells she needs to leave his apartment. She ends up moving back into her parents home where she is quickly reunited with her childhood acquaintance Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who still lives in the same town and is running the bar his dad used to own. It's all a fairly by the books indie dramedy except that over in Seoul, South Korea, a giant monster occasionally manifests out of nowhere and starts destroying everything around it.
Gloria eventually starts putting the pieces together and realizes that she is in fact directly connected to the monster, whose actions mirror hers exactly. From there a whole lot of other stuff happens that I am absolutely not going to get into. As mentioned, I knew very little about the plot and where it was heading going and the experience was all the better for it.
I'm not sure when it became cool to hate on Hathaway but it feels like the world turned on her a while ago and never looked back. Any trailer/article/piece of media that mentions her is met with a resounding chorus of "Uuuuuuuugh Hathaway? Well I just lost interest." I don't know, I've always been firmly on the Hathaway train. Even when she finds herself in a Bride Wars or a Valentine's Day, you can still count on her to give it her all. She's fantastic here with a role that requires her to run the full emotional gauntlet. It would be easy for the audience to turn on Gloria as she is immediately presented as selfish and self absorbed but Hathaway quickly makes her into a character that you root for.
Sudeikis...I really don't feel like I should much about him other than this is maybe my favourite performance of his. Sudeikis has carved out a very comfortable niche for himself as the sarcastic asshole, following in the footsteps of early days Chevy Chase. If you were going to remake Fletch, you would immediately call Jason Sudeikis. Having written that, I am now 96% certain at some point he has been contacted about a Fletch remake. In fact....ha! Yep. Look at that. Apparently it was in the works in 2015. So there you go, Sudeikis is the new Chase but he really goes for something different here and pulls it off magnificently.
While the giant monster features more prominently than I would have expected, this is by no means a monster film in the traditional sense and anyone who comes into it looking for that will almost undoubtedly leave disappointed. There are "attack scenes" and "monster fights" sure, but as you can see I also put those two things in quotes so hopefully that makes it clear that you won't get a lot of building stomping and city destruction. Much of what you do get in that department is not even shown on screen. This is a human character study through and through but the two leads are always engaging, even if the supporting characters around them don't add a whole lot (Dan never rises far beyond the standard movie boyfriend role and Tim Blake Nelson is enjoyable as Oscar's friend largely because it's always better when Tim Blake Nelson is around).
Billed as a sci-fi comedy even on the back of the blu-ray case, Colossal is hard to pin into a single genre. There are funny bits and there's no doubt science fiction is present, but there's heavy doses of drama and a surprising amount of suspense as well. It's a tad scattershot and not at all the movie I was expecting, but that was a big reason why I enjoyed it so much. In a world where people are always clamouring for more original stories to come out of Hollywood, this is a shining example of the increasingly rare movie that makes you think "huh, I'm really surprised someone was given money to make this." Good on ya Colossal.