When unemployed and unambitious writer and party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is evicted from her swanky New York apartment and dumped by boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens), she returns to her hometown to rebuild her life. She meets bar owner Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) and they develop a tentative friendship. This sweet story is completely upended when Gloria and her new friends discover that she is connected to a giant monster terrorising the city of Seoul. Coming to terms with her newfound abilities, she enlists Oscar to help her control it and stop it from taking thousands of innocent lives. But has she put her trust in the right person?
This is a very different and strong role for Hathaway, as Gloria, she has to deal with so much mentally and physically and the film depends on the likeability of its lead. She does a fantastic job of juggling the comedic and dramatic elements. Hathaway switches between these states flawlessly, making for a well-crafted character brought to life with her wealth of experience as an actor and through clever Vigalondo’s writing. The realistic vulnerability of the character evolves and manifests itself throughout the film.
Sudeikis’s portrayal of Oscar is both sweet and charming, but also cruel and menacing as the film continues. Oscar appears relatable as a humble bar owner and with his developing friendship with Gloria, but as the film steers into darker territory, things become jarring and confusing. It’s so sudden and uncharacteristic that it’s incredibly frustrating. His controlling side takes away from some of the mystery and myth of Seoul.
The world of Seoul becomes less interesting as do the creatures that inhabit it. Oscar’s personality shift has reason within the context of the plot, but it feels out of character to the point where it is endlessly frustrating. It’s unpredictable but in all the wrong ways.
Tim (Stevens), Gloria’s high-strung boyfriend, is argumentative and unsympathetic to her alcohol dependency but learns from his mistakes. Their relationship brings brevity to the craziness of the situation they find themselves in. Stevens brings a calm and reasonable voice, making him relatable with his admissions of fearing the unknown.
Vigalondo has crafted one of the oddest but delightfully entertaining films. The premise alone raises eyebrows, as it appears more of a horror or fantasy plot, not a comedy-drama. The design of the creature and the CGI and the destruction of the city is captured brilliantly for the modest $15 million budget.
The issues I had with the characters took me out of the story, but when the plot took a turn for the worse, I found myself questioning what was happening. This is a shame because it dampens the premise which did have promise, the comments on alcoholism are dulled by the frustration of the late twist. The first half of the film was enjoyable, but the second half and the ending felt hollow and undeserved.
Colossal is a crazy and ambitious experiment which promises all the ridiculousness of a later era Godzilla film but ends up a mess. The actors are talented in their challenging and unusual roles, yet the plot does not hold up. It is completely original and a quirky gem, but is it worth investing your time in? That’s for you to decide.