2018-04-13 07:25
Anne Hathaway in a scene from the movie Colossal.

What it's about:

Gloria is an out-of-work party girl who finds herself in relationship trouble with her sensible boyfriend, Tim, and she’s forced to move back to her tiny hometown to get her life back on track. She reconnects with childhood friend Oscar, a good-natured bar owner with a coterie of drinking buddies, and resumes her drinking lifestyle.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a larger-than-life creature begins attacking Seoul, South Korea, on a nightly basis, captivating spectators around the world. One night, Gloria is horrified to discover that her every move at a local playground is being mimicked on a catastrophic scale by the rampaging beast. When Gloria’s friends get wind of the bizarre phenomenon, a second, more destructive creature emerges, prompting an epic showdown between the two monsters.

What we thought:

Whatever you think Colossal is based on the trailer and script, I can safely tell you that it’s nothing like that. This is very much an experimental film that hops between genres faster than you can keep track of, that just so happens to have big names attached to it.

It was released in 2017, and it’s not surprising that this bizarro tale of pure chance, the supernatural, women empowerment, douchebags and a dash of romcom turning-your-life-around clichés would take so long to make it to South African shores. It’s something more suited to the Netflix landscape and it will be hard to review this movie without spoilers. My suggestion would be to try and watch this film without really knowing what it is about, even though the plot synopsis and trailers will not prepare you for how strange this movie really is.

An alcoholic party-girl (Anne Hathaway) returns to her childhood home after being kicked out by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) and rekindles a friendship with a school friend (Jason Sudeikis) who runs a bar. On the other side of the world, a giant Godzilla-like monster is wreaking havoc in South Korea, and the party-girl realises she has a strange connection to it.

The first part of that summary sounds like the beginnings of a romcom where a lost woman finds herself again by going back to her roots, and for the most part, it goes like you expect. The monster starts appearing, and it becomes a metaphor for how her wild antics have wide-reaching consequences not just for herself but for others as well. It’s really weird but you kind of get into this crossover into the supernatural and sink into it. 


Out of nowhere, it starts down a completely different path of toxic masculinity and women empowerment and your brain starts to wildly flail at this new direction. I am trying to keep this spoiler-free, but I do think abuse victims and survivors may find this a trigger-heavy movie, but it’s also empowering at the same time.

Hathaway signed on for this movie before it even had any backing, and she’s probably the reason it finally got made. Without her, Sudeikis and Stevens it would have been one of those small indie films you would only see at obscure film festivals. You can see in her performance that this isn’t some throwaway movie for her, although she rarely holds back in any of her movies. You enjoy yourself through her sheer will to make this a good movie, despite your brain rallying against these genre crossovers.

I can’t say much about the men without giving it away, but I think Sudeikis got to explore something a bit different to his previous movies, which is one of the upsides of the weirdness.

The CGI of the monster is also quite impressive for this kind of film, and the CGI team did a great job, its design left over to them by the director/writer Nacho Vigalondo. If only Michael Bay would do this with his scripts.

Despite a few plot holes that would have been easy to fix, I did enjoy it and thought the performances made the strangeness palatable. The main problem this film has is that I don’t know who this movie was made for. Judging by US box office numbers, it’s struggling to find an audience that intersects at the supernatural and romcom.

If you’re a cinephile and love all genres, which I may add is a small audience, then Colossal is well worth a watch to see how genre crossovers can work, but a mainstream audience may baulk at the weirdness, and some geeks may feel duped when they are expecting a pure supernatural film. Hathaway fans, however, will enjoy seeing the actress’s creative exploration into a world where feminism and giant monsters meet.

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