Nacho Vigalondo's COLOSSAL
Film review by Dennis D. McDonald
Colossal is unusual both stylistically and story-wise. It puts seemingly ordinary people, weighed down with serious but mundane personal crises, into fantastical situations involving giant monsters. It then concentrates on character and drama rather than the monsters themselves. In the process writer-director Vigalondo forces deep-seated emotions and conflicts to surface and explode.
People and giant monsters form an unusual genre that can become overblown and Hollywood-esque; case in point: Spielberg's The BFG. Or it can veer into humor and satire, like John Wright's whimsical Grabbers.
In Colossal, writer/director Vigalondo instead steers a narrow course that focuses on personal foibles and conflict. In doing so he succeeds. Colossal deserves a place next to other unique offerings such as Gareth Edwards' Monsters and Juan Antonio García Bayona’s A Monster Calls.
The story is unique. A woman after one too many drunken nights out is thrown out of her boyfriend's New York City apartment. She retreats to the unoccupied small-town home of her parents to lick her wounds. While trying to stay sober she hooks up with a local crowd led by former childhood friend who now owns a local bar.
One day she discovers that a giant city-stomping monster that has materialized in Seoul, South Korea is mimicking her own movements. She also learns she can control these movements from around the globe whenever the monster materializes.
What writer-director Vigalondo does from then on is to not so much on the "remote control" mayhem in Korea but on how the situation affects the woman and her relationships.
I can't say that the resulting dramatic events are one-hundred-percent believable. I can say that the movie had my attention as it portrays a highly personalized and emotional flip side of another favorite of mine, Pacific Rim. A major plus is the terrific performance of Anne Hathaway whose character here is light-years distant from the over-competent astronaut she played in Interstellar.
Obviously this film is not for everybody. It attempts to join genres that are usually unconnected, rather like how "Dr. Know" in AI: Artificial Intelligence combined "fair tale" and "flat fact." But if you're in the mood for something unusual, be sure to check out Colossal!
Review copyright (c) 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald. A later version of this review ran on ANewDomain.net here.