Published on June 5th, 2017 | by Kyle Zurevinski0
Colossal is a study of how subverting the expectations of the audience can either pay off big or leave the viewer stuck in a limbo.
How much praise does originality merit?
In our current film climate of blockbuster adaptations that cover everything from comic books to board games, originality shines through like a glimpse of hope. This is not meant to take away or diminish the quality and popularity of said adaptations. The hope is simply to transfer that quality and popularity to new intellectual properties so that a new generation of moviegoers will be entertained and inspired to create more original ideas.
Colossal inadvertently tackles this subject head-on by engaging with a mixture of genres and tones. The film is not quite a monster movie, but it’s also not quite a dark comedy. The film’s trailer conspired against my initial interpretation and made me ponder, “Who is this made for?” Sadly, I still cannot produce a correct answer.
In Colossal we find Academy Award-winning Anne Hathaway playing the unemployed writer, Gloria, who seeks renewal in her life. This leads to her moving back to her old hometown, in which she is reintroduced to a former classmate and peer, Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis. Gloria is a flawed character and protagonist who suffers from alcoholism, an issue that is unknowingly enabled by Oscar due to the fact that he owns the local bar. These potentially strong character plot points unfortunately are the workings of Colossal’s failure to choose a direction.
As promoted, Colossal is part monster movie. While we do see this aspect of the film unravel quite well during the run time, it results in a jarring narrative and tonal clash with the characters and their eventual motivations. To put it simply, this film does not know what it wants to be. The monster aspect and segments of the plot are by far the most entertaining, and the use of the monster genre is almost absurd within the context of the rest of the film. That being said, that absurdity is what makes Colossal interesting. It is an example of a few notable subversions put in front of the viewer that really pays off. The monsters are linked with the main characters in several ways, and the interactions result in some great comedic segment, while also proving to be fantastic action set pieces.
Unfortunately, the film turns the monster switch off and on during the runtime, and we’re constantly flung right back into a poorly made Noah Baumbach film (Colossal was written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, who made Time Crimes). The dramatic scenes and plot lines strung through this film almost start to feel warranted, until eventual motivation for specific characters is revealed and the audience is left with a sour taste in their mouths.
I saw this film with a group of close friends, and I was the outlier in terms of immediate opinion and reaction. I initially found the subject matter and overall nature of the film to be refreshing and mostly rewarding. In reality the sloppy and unfocused writing is a deterrent from the well-executed idea snuck into the themes of this production.
Colossal is not a disappointment, but it is simply more of an intriguing study of how subverting the expectations of the audience can either widely pay off or leave the viewer stuck in a limbo made from the films own ideas.