Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is going through a rut in her life. She lost her job and has lost the motivation to find a new one. Worse, her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) has just broken up with her, which is a serious problem because she lives in his apartment. With few options, she moves from New York City back to her hometown in upstate New York, where she reconnects with an old friend from school named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). However, things take a turn for the bizarre when a giant monster attacks Seoul and, amazingly, Gloria seems to be controlling it.
Although I described it earlier as a kaiju film, Colossal is really more of a smart, indie drama film- which just happens to have giant monsters in it. Although the film features enormous creatures wreaking destruction in a faraway land, the monsters and their fights are really a metaphor for the cataclysmic destruction that human beings can wreak on each other. In particular, the film takes aim at gender dynamics, bullying, and the psychology of abuse. It’s definitely the most ‘real’ kaiju movie ever made (with the possible exception of Cloverfield, another personal favorite), and although it likely won’t satisfy those who just go for Godzilla, the top-class human drama should put this film on the map of any self-respecting film goer.
However, the film is also wickedly funny. Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo expertly uses the tropes inherent in kaiju films in order to infuse the movie with the same sort of absurdist comedy recently seen in Swiss Army Man and The Lobster. And although the film is incredibly quirky it doesn’t shy away from serious drama and isn’t afraid to get dark. It’s a tough balancing act, but Vigalondo pulls it off amazingly well, managing to forge a coherent story out of so many disparate pieces and genres.
This feat is also enabled by the expert acting on display from both Hathaway and Sudeikis. Both of them play against type in the film- Gloria is a sympathetic character at her core but she struggles with motivational issues and alcohol, while Oscar is outwardly friendly and sociable person who later reveals a much darker side. Although the writing of both characters can be a bit erratic at times, both actors commit fully to the weirdness of the film, bestowing an earnestness and passion characteristic of the best independent films.
So, is Colossal a kaiju movie? Sort of. Is it comedy? Certainly. And does it have compelling human drama? Absolutely yes. It is a bizarre amalgam of genres and tropes that Nacho Vigalondo somehow managed to forge into a coherent whole. It’s a miracle how well it works, let alone that it was even made. Regardless of whether of or not you enjoy giant monster movies, Colossal is one that should not be missed.