Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in NY and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon. (IMDB)
April 7, 2017
Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sci Fi
Kaiju movies have been around since the 1950s with the most famous of all, Godzilla, being the first one put to film in 1954. Over the years, the genre has grown and expanded introducing such characters as King Ghidora, Gamera and everyone’s favorite giant monkey, King Kong. Take away the fact that these movies were the first to introduce modern audiences to kaijus and there is not much left from the genre that can be considered unique. They all follow the same basic plot: monster shows up, monster destroys city, people or another monster destroy the first monster. Copy, cut, and paste.
Recent years have brought us a kaiju renaissance with the reboots of Godzilla, King Kong, and the super colorful Pacific Rim franchise. Akin to the vampire and zombie movie/TV explosion of late, it seems assured that this surging genre will quickly lose its sense of what makes it unique. We will be treated to the same basic plot, but with different actors and different monsters. This is where Colossal comes in.
Not only does Colossal completely invert what a kaiju movie is, it creates an uncommon backstory for the who, what, when, where, and why of the kaiju character. It gives you a reason to cheer for the human characters (something kaiju movies have been famously horrible for) and tackles issues head on that many people deal with. The current kaiju resurgence will predominately offer the same fan service that they perceive audiences want to see. They will be shallow productions of cardboard characters and pretty explosions. So, in light of this, I implore you to enjoy what is sure to be the most original and best movie of the kaiju resurgence.
Violence: Oscar is abusive towards Gloria in the second half of the movie. They engage in a fight, but none of it is very graphic. The monsters are shown stomping around in Seoul with a lot of destruction. It is mentioned that many people die, but none of it is shown.
Language: There is some foul language with several uses of the f-bomb, s-word, a-word, and some g-ds.
Sexual Content: None.
Drug/Alcohol References: There is a lot of drinking as the main characters Gloria and Oscar are alcoholics. Oscar also works at a bar, so people are seen drinking during scenes there.
Positive Content: The film addresses the topic of addiction and the negative impacts it can have on other people. It also spends some time focusing on bullying and how to overcome the bullies in your life.
The less you know about this movie going in, the more you will enjoy it. I rarely use the term “shattering expectations”, but it seems fitting in describing this film. How it gets from point A to point B is a fascinating and emotional journey.
I feel comfortable in saying that this movie boasts one of what will be considered the best performances of the year. Anne Hathaway, while she does her best Anne Hathaway, does not give that performance. She is perfectly competent in her role and leaves me with nothing negative to say about her. I give her credit for coming a long way since her Mia Thermopolis days (Princess Diaries reference? Check.), but she has never quite done it for me so she gets a solid B-.
The stand out, and eventual best performance of the year, comes from none other than Jason Sudeikis himself. Six years ago it would have seemed implausible to equate Mr. Sudeikis with any sort of legitimate acting recognition. He has made a living off his smart aleck and quick witted humor that is reminiscent of vintage Chevy Chase. At first, his character appears to be of the same Sudeikis mold, but as the movie moves into the second half, we see a side of him that he has yet to show in his career. As broken, desperate, and sometimes vile as his character can be, he is still able to elicit empathy from the audience. I give him credit for producing such a layered (like an onion) and multi-faceted character who easily steals the show.
Everyone else in the cast is fine and does a serviceable job. My only complaint is that they did not give Tim Blake Nelson’s character much to do later in the film. Unforeseen discoveries about his character are introduced and then are almost immediately abandoned. It is a very minor complaint in an otherwise great movie.
What makes movies great are the choices that they give an audience. If a film can be interpreted in a number of different ways or characters can evoke a multitude of reactions, then the film has successfully reached out to a more diverse audience. This movie deals with many themes ranging from addiction to control and even misogyny. The theme that stuck out the most to me though, was control. Every aspect of our lives has something that wants to control us; whether it is at home, at work or on the streets, we are constantly faced with the issue of control. We are all controlled by something. Gloria, while not realizing it at first, is being controlled in all major areas of her life.
Early on, we see that her boyfriend plays the role of a successful white male who is more successful than his girlfriend so therefore knows what is best for her. This level of control hardly comes off as threatening because caring for someone is never inherently bad. Once she moves back home, she is greeted with a less subtle and more dangerous kind of control. Oscar, as previously discussed, has his own set of issues. While I won’t go into detail, it does appear he simply wants to control her because he cannot get control of his own life. The rut that Gloria is in makes her vulnerable to any rope that is thrown her way. She grabs on and allows her rescuer to exert their plan for her life onto her.
This is all going on while she still struggles with her alcohol addiction. Her connection to the kaiju is used to show her how to take control of her own life. Just like when she is connected to the kaiju, she learns how easily her actions can destroy the lives of those around her. She learns how to reconcile broken relationships and also learns how to stand up for herself…because she’s telepathically connected with a giant monster. Seriously though, she learns not only how to stand up to bullies, but that she can. Figuring out who she is away from the control of all the other things in her life allows her to be comfortable enough to be her own person and direct her own life. The audience is left cheering for both Gloria and the kaiju for different, albeit very similar, reasons. They are literally, and not literally, one and the same.
Sometimes in life, drastic circumstances are needed to lift us up out of the rut we are in. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom, break some bones, and crawl our way to out to figure out what matters most in life. And sometimes, we become connected with a giant kaiju half way around the world. Different strokes I suppose.
+ Great acting
+ Strong emotional beats
- Not enough time with Tim Blake Nelson's character
- Dan Stevens character was not one of David Haller's personalities