Colossal review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Colossal is a troublingly clever drama that manages to weave a tale of standing up for yourself with a geeky lace. Despite a fantastical aspect, there’s a more relatable aspect to the deeply flawed characters that don’t exactly make easy transitions or fully comprehend their actions. When they stumble, they stumble hard, just as much as the giant monster and robot that duke it out in Korea. It’s still a frustrating film, however, considering how much I wished the characters would come to terms with themselves amid a haze of indecision, laziness, and generally being overwhelmed.
The premise is at least a unique one. Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, a woman with a life that hasn’t come together yet. Rather, it’s falling apart. She’s unemployed, drinking too much, loses her boyfriend, and is kicked out of her apartment. Where she falls is back into her childhood home of New England. Her life feels as empty as the unfurnished house she now occupies. At least she’s in good company with her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) not only offering her a job but also bringing her furniture and electronics to make her home feel more home-like.
Then something astounding happens. A giant monster randomly appears over in Korea, stomping straight through a city. It doesn’t affect much of anything in the sleepy New England town but it’s still pretty bizarre. Then things get more bizarre when Gloria discovers that she is the one controlling that monster who seems to appear at the same time every evening. Whatever actions Gloria performs on her local playground, the same actions occur in Korea with the monster, happening in real-time after she convinces her local pals to observe.
This is a neat discovery and it’s thankfully never explained too much how this is possible. This is clearly just fantastical showcase for Gloria trying to come to terms with herself. This becomes more engaging when it’s revealed that Oscar can also trot into the playground and become a giant robot in Korea. What an amazing ability. But with great abilities comes a greater need to use them wisely. And considering both are drunks with massive anxiety issues in their lives, they’re clearly not capable of using these powers specifically for good. So it should come as no surprise that one of them gets hammered and stumbles onto the playground, stomping around and bringing death and destruction to Korea.
There’s a few problems with such a story. As the film proceeds, the allegories become so blatantly unsubtle it’s not the least bit of a shock that we’re given some silly origin about how Gloria and Oscar attained such power. The darkly comedic aspect of this development never quite feels there, always muddied by stammering in between the wide eyes and smiles. There’s a twist revealed to bring this chapter of Gloria’s life to a fulfilling conclusion but it takes some loopy leaps in logic that are unfortunately a bit hard to glaze over when the narrative becomes so blunt.
Colossal is certainly an entertaining sight and story idea, sure to offer some great appeal and comfort for those who feel their life is going nowhere and that starting over can be tough. The merging of an indie comedy and a giant monster flick is an ambitious project for sure, to the point that I wish I could love this film for more than just the way Gloria manipulates a giant monster to dance around a city.