‘Colossal’ transforms from indie romantic-comedy to kinetic Kaiju film


Anna Hathaway battles giant robots and ‘nice guys’ in ‘Colossal’

“Colossal” was a movie that, much like its namesake, I did not see coming.

The story revolves around Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a failed writer, alcoholic and all-around Bad Person, as her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) kicks her out of his apartment in New York for being an unrepentant, drunken waste. She returns to her home in a nondescript small town where she becomes reacquainted with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a schoolyard friend and owner of a bar in the area.

The film’s gimmick, the whole “Anne Hathaway unwittingly controls a giant monster that appears in Seoul” is revealed relatively early in the proceedings. This leaves the rest of the movie to show all the parts that were left out of the trailer.

What was painted as something relatively light-hearted and hilarious grows darker and less funny as the knives come out.

The insidious nature of small town life, the rankling smell of failed dreams and stillborn ambition and the petty joy of those who wished you ill and watched you come crashing back down to earth make appearances in second and third acts. With a variety of lessons to be taught, not least of which is: if you happen to control a giant monster that appears in a major capital, don’t combine that with a drinking problem.

Solid camera work and good workmanlike music choices carry the movie throughout. These factors reinforce the story without distracting from it through spectacle or glitz.

Early on, a single shot of Hathaway as her world collapses does an exemplary job of projecting that sensation. Great music in the finale wraps everything up. The final shot sticks in memory as it puts its finger neatly on the crux of the issue — which is not always an easy task for a director.

In the end, I stood up from the theatre, looked at my friends and quietly asked if they wanted to go get a beer, the irony not lost on me. It was a film that sunk its knife surprisingly deep, one that executed well on its premise.

The directions that the plotlines took, while not the ones I expected, were perfectly reasonable ones for the plot to take. The spectacle of the pocket kaiju movies didn’t distract but instead enhanced the main plotline. The science of remotely steering a giant monster is largely left as a macguffin, a credit to the director. The conclusion is at once satisfying and somewhat unsettling.

This was a weird movie. It had a strange plot. And using these tools, the film managed to lay down a point that came close to home. I wish I hadn’t seen the trailer, if only to be more surprised by everything and go in with lower expectations but even seeing that didn’t help much. If you like films that will make you laugh, think and maybe feel a bit uncomfortable, “Colossal” might be for you.