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Film Review: Colossal

Directed and written by Nacho Vigalondo
Starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis
Opens April 28

Monster movies are typically beloved for their biggest moments; aka the atomic breath and mech-suit spectacles of a Godzilla vs. MUTO or Jaeger vs. Kaiju cage match in downtown Tokyo. But what happens when you rip away the hundred million dollar budgets and replace it with an indie movie heart? Well, you get (the ironically titled) Colossal.

From writer and director Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Open Windows), Colossal follows Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a struggling alcoholic who returns to her hometown and her old friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), as the two rekindle their bond while hanging out for all hours of the night in Oscar’s bar. Typical indie rom-com set up, sure, but instead of a run of the mill love triangle messing things up, things go sideways when Gloria realizes she’s inexplicably linked to a giant monster half way across the world that’s threatening the destruction of Seoul.

The film could have gone wrong in so many directions, but Vigalondo deserves a lot of credit for pulling off an ingenious idea. While the script may be one of its weakest elements, his vision for the film is met through great directing, and the strong chemistry of Hathaway and Sudeikis. The two ground the film in a never-too-serious reality while still pulling off intriguing and often mysterious performances. Sudeikis, particularly, has a memorable turn, getting plenty of laughs while also unravelling a seriously crazy character.

The film does suffer from a couple half-baked plotlines, including a romance between Gloria and one of Oscar’s friends, as well as an ending that feels just a little bit off. The CGI, in parts, is also quite wonky and one wonders if they could have shown just a little less in favour of not having the audience distance themselves from the believability of the world.

However, conceptually the film is solid, and the imperfect elements never detract from the immensely fun experience of the rom-com-mon film (“mon” as in monster, get it?). It has heart, laughs, and has a couple twists thrown in for good measure. The way the film uses the connection between Gloria and the monster is brilliant, as Vigalando will often set scenes so that nothing is shown in Seoul but sound effects and music will convey the destruction being done. The fight sequences are done in a similar fashion, so that while two humans are fighting, the audience is aware that they are actually giant monsters fighting each other in Seoul. It works pitch-perfectly.

Colossal functions as a mix of genres and offers something fans of either dramedies or action movies can enjoy. It’s a callback to youth, a time where we could pretend we were whatever we wanted to be, and didn’t have the implications of real world issues to balance or struggle with. Colossal may be an ironic title, but it’s the perfect fit for a helluva ambitious and massively mashed-up movie.

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