WCBE

Colossal

Apr 28, 2017

Hathaway impresses as she battles a character's monsters inside and out.

Colossal

Grade: B-

Director: Nacho Vigalondo (Extraterrestrial)

Screenplay: Vigalondo

Cast: Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Jason Sudeikis (We're the Millers)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 49 min.

by John DeSando

I learned about the power of the mind depicted in fiction by absorbing the sci-fi Forbidden Planet, in which the monster was the physical embodiment of the mad scientist’s insanity. Think also of Pacific Rim for another sci-fi touchstone and Trainwreck for the romance. Basically Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo has a partially- successful psychological action, comedy sci fi enclosed in the mind of Gloria (Anne Hathaway).

The thousand-foot lizard destroying Seoul is all Gloria, and the competing robot is her home-town friend, Oscar (Jason Sudekis). Once that inventive conceit is established, the story turns into a black comedy that relies too heavily on cliché to make it an important film. A more sinister bad boy, as Oscar could be, would have made the love triangulation memorable.     

After disturbing punches the two principals give each other, the film offers humorous, quaint South Korean crowd scenes in direct parody of great Japanese tokusatu cinema like Godzilla.  Why these people are hanging about and returning to watch the monsters duke it out is part of the comedy.

Although I have to admit that monsters no longer hold much terror for me, having grown up with Kong, Mothra, Godzilla, and their ilk, the melodrama between alcoholic Gloria and her boyfriends still intrigues me. Mostly I’m interested in how she’s going to turn for good after losing her NYC job and returning home to be a waitress in Oscar’s bar. Annoying as his beer-guzzling and her emotional grandstanding are, the story draws you along to hope for their love match.  

Colossal is a partially entertaining genre mash up strongest in its portrayal of a young woman in transition.  Exorcising our demons is a lifelong struggle, and when they are city-destroying sci-fi tropes, you might be in for some fun that teaches about the challenges of modern life, drinking, and love, and all that.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com