Colossal is basically a sci-fi monster movie with a bit of dark comedy and relationship drama thrown in for good measure. Director Nacho Vigalondo is famous for his genre-defying masterpieces (Timecrimes, Open Windows, etc) and this appears to be no exception.
Starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, Colossal tells the story of an American woman named Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an out-of-work party girl who, after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown, where she starts working at a bar run by her old friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who is still nursing a decades old crush.
When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events begin to spin out of control, Gloria must determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world. As allegories go, it’s a pretty good one and it’s certainly an inventive concept.
While Colossal starts out as a portrait of an irresponsible young women (Gloria is also a drunk), it quickly becomes a more feminist critique of male self-pity as Oscar’s sense of aggrieved entitlement starts to collide with, and even eclipse, Gloria’s problems.
In fact, all the men in Colossal let Gloria down – while Vigalondo claims that he had no specific political motivations when making the movie, it certainly makes a clear statement about relationships between men and women while emphasizing that a woman need not be either quirky or funny to gain and deserve the respect of an audience.
Depending on your interpretation, Gloria is one of two things: a destructive loser or a strong young women discovered her inner ass-kicking monster. And in many ways, the men in Colossal are pretty much universally worse than the monster itself.
Reviews have been mixed to say the least. The Atlantic describes it as swerving “wildly between wacky genre-busting comedy, indie mumblecore, and dark relationship drama, often feeling messy and atonal” in a good way. The Observer, however, called it “monstrously stupid”. Overall, critics have praised Colossal for it’s out-there originality and strong performances – it’s even managed to score an impressive 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Colossal was originally conceived as a small budget Spanish-language film until Hathaway and Sudeikis signed on, at which point the budget rose to $15 million. Visually, it’s a cross between indie mumblecore a la Short Term 12 and the slicker monster movie productions of late, like Kong: Skull Island, the success of which has really opened the market for this kind of Godzilla-ish, kaiju movie once again.