A Kaiju, a Robot, and Lots of Beer.
It’s been almost a month now since COLOSSAL has been released to theaters, and for some unknown reason a movie that defines itself as enormous is not being talked about. In a time when we’re seeing a kaiju resurgence with beautifully shot films like SHIN GODZILLA and KONG: SKULL ISLAND, a lieu of giant monster flicks are bringing people to the theater. So many of us are asking for movies to be more original, tired of all the remakes, especially American versions of international hits. Well, this written and directed creation of Nacho Vigalondo starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis could be the answer to our pleas.
Wasting no time, the first five minutes of the film shows us the massive, skyscraper-sized beast striking fear into a Korean child. Flash forward twenty-five years, and we find Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an unemployed columnist and wreck of person, whose alcoholism has ruined her relationship with her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) and brought her back to the small town she grew up in. As she attempts to settle into the old skin of her upbringing, she runs into childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who invites her for a drink at his bar. After a drunken night of catching up, she walks home, cutting through the local playground at 8:05 AM. But what seems like the most mundane act is what makes this film deviate from every other kaiju film we’ve seen.
Gloria is woken up by a phone call from her sister telling her that Seoul, Korea was attacked by a gigantic creature around 8:05 AM. Hmm. Coincidence? After another walk of shame through the playground — at 8:05, of course — the monster reappears, and Gloria begins to figure out that she is connected to this monstrosity noticing that it even shares her very mannerisms. Naturally, she has to share this information with someone, so she tells Oscar and his friends. Fueled with liquid courage, she takes the group to the playground at 8:05 AM and has them go to a live broadcasting of Seoul on their mobile devices as she starts dancing. As they are focused on the monster dancing in the city, it slowly dawns on them.
Eventually, not only is Gloria hit with a rude awaking that helps her realize she has a drinking problem, but we find out that Oscar has a giant robot counterpart that appeared in Seoul alongside Gloria’s monster! We also see that he too is an alcoholic — a semi-functioning one, but an alcoholic nonetheless.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking “Didn’t you say this was a kaiju film?” It is, and like most kaiju films, there is a major focus on humanity. While a lot of kaiju flicks struggle with a connection between the people and the city-destroying monster, COLOSSAL has found an interesting way to bind the two: the kaiju and robot reflect humanity’s inner demons, demons we come to find have been there for years. What follows in the rest of film is a dark showcase of substance, mental, and physical abuse, with Oscar’s character becoming an out of control “monster” that Gloria has to overcome — not just to save herself, but to save the people of Seoul.
There are only around 30 total minutes of onscreen monster action in COLOSSAL. But you know what? It’s all worthwhile to see the amazing performances from Hathaway and Sudeikis. Since there are monsters involved, I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t recognized by the Academy Awards (which tend to ignore genre films). That is a travesty, because they both deserve it.
This cult classic hopeful was a breath of fresh air. It would be a colossal missed opportunity not to catch it in theaters.