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Colossal” (2017) Hollywood Movie Review-Boomspk

Colossal” (2017 hollywood movie review

“You're gonna keep working at the bar, or I'm gonna come back here tomorrow, and destroy an entire neighborhood.”

“Colossal” (2017):

This film may not quite be Top Ten material, but it is really damn close – or it’ll be a Top Ten film because 2017 couldn’t cough up enough to fill a proper f*cking list.
If I were to wager anything by the end of this year, I would predict that “Colossal” is going to end up being one of the more debated and divisive films, or in simple terms, one extreme heralding its screenplay for its originality, while the other half will be tearing it down for being “hipster” bullsh*t – a term that to this day, especially in its derogatory-sense, makes me want to chew my own face off considering that’s about as creative of a critique as “snowflake” is these days, and I’ll be damned if I don’t pine for better times when all that meant was a frozen, crystallized droplet of water.

Ahem. End rant.

For me, personally, I am on the side of being heavily in favor with the film, while keeping in mind that I certainly do not find it flawless or even the best film of the year. To be sure, it absolutely is inventive, risk-taking, and captivating through-and-through; there are just a few key components I felt were missing that didn’t necessarily prevent “Colossal” from having a serviceable narrative, although did make certain aspects of the picture ring slightly hollow.

The story is based around Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a young and unemployed writer living with her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), until she comes home drunk one too many times and he throws her out. Struggling with alcoholism for some time now on top of unemployment, Gloria has nowhere to go except her Midwestern home in a small town where her family has a vacated rental property that she can stay in. As she walks through town gathering a few essential supplies, Gloria bumps into an old childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), whom still has never left the town and is now running his father’s dive bar. Gloria and Oscar start to catch up and the film begins to give the appearance of a playful comedy, until, oh not so fast, it takes a disturbingly dark turn.

Gloria’s drinking has gotten so severe that she suffers blackouts almost daily and loses large chunks of time; during one of these stints, she awakes to the news that a monstrous creature has begun attack Seoul, South Korea. While this may not seem like a big deal at first, Gloria begins to notice that the creature displays some mannerisms that are frighteningly similar to her own. Before long, Gloria can no longer dismiss this as a coincidence and that somehow she and the creature are connected.

At first this serves as a mischievous source of entertainment for Gloria, Oscar, and their group of friends; that is, until their antics prove lethal when Gloria’s monster starts destroying buildings and killing innocents in Seoul. Then, as if battling her own demons isn’t crippling enough, a new foe appears in Seoul in the form of a giant robot, and this one is a projection of Oscar, whom, as the story goes on, turns out not to be quite the warm and welcoming figure he makes himself out to be, causing the two leads to go increasing toe-to-toe with each other until the film’s climax.

To tell any more would start to get into spoiler territory, not to mention the film deserves to flex its own muscles. That being said, again, the film does lure the audience into a false sense of security before falling head-first into substance abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, cynicism, narcissism, aggressive control issues, murder-for-pleasure – I think you get the idea. “Colossal”, with the assistance of Director Nacho Vigalondo, may be able to cleverly disguise all the unpleasantness in metaphor, but even that proves to be temporary when the gloves completely come off both figuratively and literally, and the feature becomes about as uncomfortable as a terrible car accident that you know you shouldn’t look at but you cannot help it.

So first come the beefs, and while I do continue to stand by the opinion of the film being able to get from Point A to Point B just fine at face value, there were some missing pieces that have been bothering me. For starters, Gloria as a character is more or less ill-defined. Hathaway is outstanding in the role and pulls as much empathy and apathy from the audience as possible, but then again, let’s be real here, when is Hathaway not at the top of her game? Back to the point, Gloria is supposed to be a deeply damaged individual, and Hathaway definitely makes us believe that, however there’s not much else to make us FEEL it, and the difference between the two, in my opinion, is vital. By comparison, Oscar might as well be King Douchebag as far as the plot is concerned, but the screenplay also took time to drop ever-so-subtle hints as to why he might be that way, and that, in turn, made me sympathize with him however minimally because he didn’t really deserve it. Gloria’s character, on the other hand, did not get the same treatment, so her downward spiral to her current circumstance is a mystery. Granted, I do not require a lengthy exposition to appreciate a character more, but to leave all the big details shrouded in ambiguity curbs her development as a character, and greater than that, dampens that “my heart hurts for Gloria” sensation that would add that much more gravity her ascension or decline.

The second gap that I need to address is the relationship (or lack thereof) between Gloria and Oscar. I guess this could be considered a very mild spoiler, but the plot does break away a few different times throughout the film via flashback when Gloria and Oscar were kids. Surprising to likely nobody, Oscar was not any less of an asshole back then than he is in present time, and yet Gloria in the present seems to have zero recollection of this – hence her being so trusting of Oscar when they found each other again – and this is supposedly attributed to the side effects of her drinking. 

Admittedly, I have never had issues with alcoholism, nor do I know anyone that does, thankfully, although this is such a crucial plot point, and to me this was boiled down to a convenience that I cannot really get behind. I realize there would have been no movie if Gloria recognized Oscar and punched him square in the face, but considering how quickly and severely their quarrels escalate in this film, it came across to me as way too easy. Maybe that’s just me, and I can wholly believe many viewers being perfectly fine with that.

Now it’s time to get into the good stuff, and there is some GOOD stuff to be had here. Easily the biggest and most pleasant surprise of “Colossal” by leaps and bounds was Jason Sudeikis. I have been a big fan of the actor going clear back to his consistent comedy presence in the 2000s, and, additionally, have been keeping a close eye on his indie transition into drama. I had heard rumors going into this thing, and they were absolutely confirmed – Sudeikis crushes it in this film. I’m not talking about Oscar bait, which has its own category, this was more of a controlled yet unhinged plunge into borderline violent psychosis that I will admit I never thought he was capable of doing. I alluded to this earlier, Vigalondo took some huge risks with taboo material and took it across a line that most films do not have the balls to do anymore. The job for Sudeikis was to sell Oscar as somebody that should be loathed, and he had me gripping my seat a few times wondering just how far he would go passed that Point of No Return. I won’t ramble and give away anymore, but believe me when I say that this performance by Sudeikis could easily be the best of his career to date, and that’s coming from somebody that already believed he was an underrated actor.

I am sure those that have yet to see the movie are curious about the CGI, and while it is certainly not as much of a focal point as it may appear, the monster action does look pretty good for a modest budget. Sure, the concept and execution does look a bit like a dollar store version of “Pacific Rim”, but then again, “Pacific Rim” didn’t invent the wheel, so it’s kind of a moot point. Gloria’s monster, in particular, looks better and better the more you see it and can gain an appreciation for its design and detail. 

Overall, “Colossal” is hands-down a movie that deserves to be seen.. It is the kind of good that may not need to be seen more than once, though I will not be forgetting it anytime soon. Despite its imperfections, I am anxious to see what Vigalondo does next as yet another young talent in Hollywood that can maybe teach the corporate heads a thing or two about cinema. 

Highly recommended. “Colossal”: 8.5/10
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