Written and directed by Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, Colossal is a type of original work which hardly gets noticed by the general movie-going public. Cleverly fusing several different types of genres and tones without getting thematically convoluted, Colossal stars Anne Hathaway as Gloria, an NYC “writer” who has been unemployed and party drunk for some time; after her boyfriend kicks her out of their apartment, Gloria decides to home to New Hampshire, where she meets childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who runs a local bar that used to belong to his father. Oscar decides to help out Gloria by furnishing her home and even giving her a part-time job. Soon, things take a real strange turn when a giant monster comes out of nowhere and terrorizes Seoul, South Korea, which causes the whole world to turn on their television sets and many of the locals going to Oscar's bar to witness the beast's destruction. Before long, Gloria realizes that she has a strong connection to the monster which turns her existence inside out and upside down.
I'm not sure what stick is up some people's rumps in the media, social and otherwise, but I've always liked Anne Hathaway. I refused to see the musical version of Les Misérables, not because of her but because I have a rule never to watch adaptations of classic novels without reading the novel in question first, particularly if it has gotten dozens of adaptations over the decades. Hathaway won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for that film and soon received an unprecedented amount of backlash, which seemed higher than normal than other actresses which have journeyed as far as she had from being a child actress in such films such as The Princess Diaries. I wouldn't exactly call Colossal a comeback role as she never really left the spotlight, but her performance here is so beautifully understated and lovingly natural that it sneaks up on you, surprising and even challenging the viewer. Those expecting a lot of alcohol-fueled histrionics will be surprised to find a genuinely three-dimensional, arc-eclipsing role here which proves how genuinely talented Hathaway is, particularly with such an intricately plotted screenplay which is dotted with many twists and turns along the way. Matching her is Jason Sudeikis in what his arguably his finest role to date as the bar owner who has more than a few secretive skeletons stashed away in his closet. Both characters change and grow in unexpected, unpredictable ways which makes Colossal so thrilling on a developmental level.
While there is a generous amount of CGI employed for the kaiju—which is slightly reminiscent of Godzilla without coming off like a virtual clone in any particular respect or fashion, although a settlement with lawsuit-filing Toho was apparently reached prior to production—the effects are still quite astonishing to behold. Bear McCrearey's music gives Colossal the appropriate amount of dramatic weight and tension as the plot quietly unfolds. Most importantly, Vigalondo's story truly satisfies at the film's conclusion, even when you are never quite sure where it's going or what's going to happen next; he also employs some delicious dark humor which blends well with both the drama and sci-fi elements without compromising either one. Usually when genre elements are mixed in a blender as in Colossal it has the potential to intimidate and exasperate those who are devoted to only one genre, but I honestly think this film will reward anyone who gives it a chance, even if you don't care for the actors. There is a unique bit of magic which generates from the experience, ultimately transcending its numerous inspirations with depth and intelligence. I'm not sure if I would call Colossal one of 2016's best films, but it surely is a candidate for the most underrated.
- DVD SPECS & EXTRAS -
While Colossal was primarily produced by Voltage Pictures and independently distributed to theaters by Neon, the Blu-ray and DVD come to us courtesy of Universal. When it comes to myself choosing between DVD and Blu-ray it's almost always based on the amount of bonus material, and unfortunately both have the same, solitary extra thus I went with the standard DVD. Universal delivers for the most part with the 2.40:1 Anamorphic print with both indoor and outdoor scenes (particularly those set in the early morning) both coming off as clean and sharp, if not spectacular. The nighttime scenes in South Korea are full of visual wonder, with no technical flaws of note that would distract from the viewing experience. Dialogue, music and sound effects are all well-balanced in the 5.1 Dolby Digital track, with expected subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The single bonus feature I alluded to earlier is a 4-minute deleted scene, which is only slightly different than the same scene which is in the film, and it's basically just a flashback modification. Luckily, the film is so good on its own that additional supplemental material isn't really necessary, and Universal's DVD presentation is welcoming enough to welcome a purchase, even though most will probably wish to rent or stream before investing. Either way, the highly original and spellbinding comes highly recommended by me!
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Stone Gasman has been addicted to cinema ever since he was a child, becoming hooked on Chaplin, Hitchcock and Wilder by the time he was 10 years old. The film which changed his life was The Best Years of Our Lives, the 1946 winner for Best Picture and eight additional Oscars, which ultimately inspired him to join the US Navy. He is now a disabled veteran residing in New York City.