I went into this film knowing barely anything about it other than it having an interesting SF element. What a brilliant bloody surprise it was. If I were to review this film in one word it would be ‘great’. The premise is original and fun, the characters are all interestingly flawed, the acting is superb, and it is thoroughly enjoyable throughout.
It should come as no surprise that I enjoy quirky films or at least films that attempt to do something a little different. Why Hollywood seems to think I should be paying out ridiculous sums to see the same film with slightly different packaging again and again in my (overheated) local cinema is beyond me. So I have to say an enormous thank you to studios willing to take a few risks and the auteurs who create interesting content. Nacho Vigalondo, I salute you.
Scary monsters and super creeps
The film follows Gloria (Anne Hathaway), out of work and spiralling out of control. After her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) finally has enough and kicks her out, she heads back to her small hometown and re-kindles a childhood friendship with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Throwing his old friend a bone, Oscar offers Gloria a part time gig waitressing at his bar. After a night of heavy drinking with Oscar and his friends, Gloria stumbles home through a local park. When she turns on the TV, she watches reports of a monster terrorising Seoul who happens to have the same nervous tick as she does. What if… Gloria is the monster?
We all want exciting lives
I love flawed characters. Let’s face it, none of us are perfect. Seeing characters who are realistically flawed on screen has a great appeal for me. Not only that, Colossal manages to avoid the usual pitfalls. For instance, Oscar’s possessiveness comes not from a place of romantic jealousy (men and women can have other types of relationships, yo!) but of a jealousy over Gloria’s life – her skills, how she got out of a small town. There is physical violence between men and women in this film and not once is there a comment made about ‘hitting a girl’ (thank fuck!). Even when the typical save the day moments come, it does not make these horrible people into heroes. They are just finally doing one decent thing in a lifetime full of shitty behaviour.
None of this would have worked nearly as well had the film not made such excellent casting decisions. Sudeikis could charm the pants off anyone. His character arc would have been hammy and unbelievable in the hands of anyone lesser, but his irresistible ‘everyman’ shtick works perfectly. Meanwhile, Dan Stevens does the arrogant, self-centred jackass who thinks he is above reproach which such commitment to smarm it is a great counterpoint to Sudeikis’ rough creepiness. And most importantly, Anne Hathaway is vulnerable while also showing her character to be quite a vile human. I loved every performance in this film.
Variety is the spice of life
Colossal is by no means a perfect film, despite me viewing it with rose-tinted glasses. But originality and risk go a long way. By virtue of trying something different, offering up something other than the usual cinema experience, covers up all manner of sins. I am able to sit in a theatre and pick apart other films by virtue of being utterly bored. I’ve seen it all before, I know all the problems and can see them popping up again and again. An original film like Colossal kept me captivated throughout to the point where I stopped viewing it critically at all. And that is a serious damn achievement.
Verdict: Fun, original, and cynical. Colossal is everything I want to see in a non-franchise SF film.