Unpopped Kernels: Colossal (2017)

When it comes to movie-dom, at the moment, there is an abundance of criticisms that go along the lines of this:

“There is nothing original, it’s all adaptions and remakes, this is all terrible. ROAR COMPLAINING.”

Yeah, sure, jeez – we get it. All you see are these blockbuster films of books, comics, and remakes and you roll your eyes, thinking that gives you a great excuse to pirate your films.

What you are ignoring, however, is the large volume of independent films that have the spirit of newness you so desperately crave. Do a little digging, and you’ll find a film with innovation and power.

Anne Hathaway’s latest feature, Colossal, the ingenuity is palpable.

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Colossal, directed by Nacho Vigalondo, is a film revolving around New York writer Gloria who struggles with alcoholism and a party lifestyle. When her partner kicks her out of her home, Gloria travels back to her hometown in order to re-evaluate her life choices. Whilst there, a monster emerges in Seoul, causing alarm and distress across the globe. Shockingly, Gloria discovers that there is a connection between herself and the demon. But tackling her own inner demons could prove disastrous for Seoul…

Dark comedies that embody an element of the fantastical are genuinely winning. Vigalondo with Colossal, expresses this genuinely fresh beat to the sci-fi/comedy genre that is absolutely compelling. Throughout the film there is a running theme that the connection between Gloria and this mammoth monster is, indeed, one of humour and towering special effects.

What starts as this creature feature then becomes a portrayal of domestic violence, which is when Colossal turns from good to great. The visceral and spectacular depiction of a woman caught in a manipulative and abusive relationship is done well; with parts showing a cold nugget of realism. As Gloria unravels and becomes trapped, there is an ebb of empathy that echoes throughout and you cannot help but feel for her.

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Selling the story are two impressive leads. Anne Hathaway has always committed to a role and in Gloria, she layers what could have been a one-note character (and, trust me, the script does lend itself to this criticism,) and produces a rounded character who tries to move away from her insecurities and alcoholism. Finding herself within the avatar in Seoul, Gloria is a woman struggling with identity which is being misshapen by an abuse of control. Hathaway brings all these elements to the character that, unfortunately, is sold short by the final screenplay. However, Jason Sudeikis is a true gift, his ferocity in his role as childhood friend Oscar is unparalleled. It’s always interesting to see a comedic performer do justice in a more serious role, Sudeikis is such a highlight.

The biggest problem with Colossal, as great as the acting and the premise are, there never feels like a full realisation. Although she is the leading character, Gloria never gets the arc needed to truly sell the film and, like a lot of films with an intriguing idea, Vigalondo seems to hold back a notch and, sadly, there are times were it becomes stale.

Nevertheless, Colossal is worthy your time. While the full product is never fully realised, the combination of genres is an intriguing concept with enough wit to sell you somewhat. If anything, the performances by Hathaway and Sudeikis add a level of terrifying humanity that immerses you in their story.

Plus, the score by Bear McCreary (the best name in show business and you can fight me on that)  is one of the best independent scores of recent years, needing to be devoured.

Colossal is available on Amazon Prime 

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