Monday, April 17, 2017

Colossal (2017) film review

Year: 2017
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director/Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson

Colossal is now showing in cinemas everywhere and is distributed in Australia by Transmission Films.

Nacho Vigalondo's Colossal is a great success for what it represents and what is taking place behind the story as it unfolds on the screen. It is a genre-bending, original black comedy that is incredibly clever and challenges everything that it looks like it is at face value.

When Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is kicked out of her New York City apartment by her fed up boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), she moves back to the quiet, uneventful town where she grew up. Things soon take an interesting turn when she is reunited with her childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) and he offers her a job working in his bar. Even more interesting is when a Godzilla-like monster starts appearing, causing havoc and then quickly disappearing in South Korea...and even more intriguing is that this mysterious and catastrophic phenomenon seems to have something somehow to do with Gloria.

Colossal requires a complete suspension of disbelief for it to really work in the eye of the beholder due to the unrealistic nature of the story. Unfortunately, the screenplay is the enemy of the story as it is filled with holes and a whole load of unanswered questions remain at the end. Despite this sounding like all may well be lost with Colossal, it comes as a surprise that you can actually put these rather large faults aside and praise it for the things it gets so right.

On the surface, Colossal looks like just another apocalyptic monster film. Even though it has a rather mediocre execution thanks to the screenplay, it provides something different for the monster/sci-fi genre and it's originality is commendable. Nacho Vigalondo's story may have it's ridiculous moments, but it is ultimately entertaining, unpredictable and intriguing enough to captivate and keep you guessing. It is a quiet, indie film with underlying themes that plays alongside, but at the same time is removed from the blockbuster monster film. This contrast is completely unlike the typical formula we see in such a film and is a refreshing change. By creating this distance between the characters and the actual monster of the film, there is more freedom and opportunity to do something interesting and give the human protagonist more attention.

Colossal captures the nostalgic spirit of old school horror/monster films . These were the films that were set in picturesque small towns that hardly seem sinister to begin with and were as much about the human characters as they were the beast. This film is more about the human protagonists than the actual unnamed monster of the film.

Anne Hathaway, who very rarely puts in an uninspired performance these days, shines as Gloria, who undergoes a transformation during the film from being a broken woman to being extremely strong and capable of anything...clearly. At its core, Colossal is about bullying and how it can take effect on your life in the present and future. Hathaway's Gloria is not only a strong female presence, but the only female character (besides the younger version of herself played by Hannah Cheramy, who has a Drew Barrymore Firestarter moment) and without a doubt the most likable character in the film. She is surrounded by men who take advantage of her by abusing her while she is in her fragile state or are weak and are themselves unable to stand up to those who are bullying them.

Neither Jason Sudeikis nor Dan Stevens play particularly nice characters in Colossal and represent the original bully and the bully that Gloria allows into her life because of the first bully making her believe she doesn't deserve any better. The way the film progresses in regards to Gloria and Oscar is also surprising, as it does not take the usual turn that one would be expecting. When a male and female character meet in a film the way Gloria and Oscar do here in Colossal, it is expected it is to be part of the romantic subplot of the film. However, when it looks as though this is the direction things are heading in, the story is contorted so that it shocks everyone and takes on a completely new life. By the end of the film, the perfect quote that represents Gloria is that which is taken from William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"......."Though she be but little, she is fierce"

Nacho Vigalondo has refused to abide by any of the rules of the Hollywood monster film genre with Colossal and it is glorious. It uses the genre only to tell an incredibly relevant human story and do so in a creative and thoroughly intriguing way.



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