Colossal review: Strange and subversive

The multi-genre film is more than all its weird parts

April 07, 2017 10:53 am | Updated 11:58 am IST

Kaiju callingColossal,starring Anne Hathaway is a genre bender.Special arrangement

Kaiju callingColossal,starring Anne Hathaway is a genre bender.Special arrangement

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives: almost hitting rock bottom with no end in sight. The constant regret combined with the perpetual disappointment of those in our lives. Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo takes such a universally resonating phenomenon and weaves it into a kaiju monster movie. Colossal floats through a genre-bending sea becoming, at times, a romcom, indie feature, drama, comedy, science fiction and even a monster film.

Monster mash

The indescribable film zeroes in on Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a pathetic alcoholic mess who’s lost her job, alienated her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) and moved back into her parents’ old empty house. There, she’s reconnected with a school friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) and makes new pals to hit the bottle with while working at a bar. While Gloria is stumbling home drunk in the wee hours of the morning, an equally intoxicated kaiju is stomping around Seoul, South Korea. Turns out, if Gloria walks though her old school playground at a certain time of the day, she can control the actions of the monster in the Asian city.


Taking forward this eccentrically weird plot, Vigalondo explores human nature through the guise of metaphors. While trying to save the people in Seoul, Gloria is actually embarking on the path to redemption. Her obstacles – including herself – come in the form of her naggy ex who is hell bent on controlling her despite being broken up. It’s a firm slap to all those men out there who think they can and have to save women. Add to that, there's the transformation of sweet guy-next-door Oscar into a nasty chauvinist and sexist man. In the end, Gloria alone can save Seoul from the kaiju, but not before she becomes her own saviour. Like the film’s poster says, there’s a monster in all of us.

Colossal ’s heft first comes from its strange premise only to be infinitely enhanced by its performers. Hathaway’s journey from hot mess to steely determination is just remarkable and Sudeikis’s devious villainy evokes so much hatred.

Sum of all parts

The film is unpredictable from the start to the end with some really odd moments. For instance, one sequence has Oscar set off a huge firecracker in his own bar to intimidate Gloria and Tim that will leave you scratching your head. And Vigalondo really knows how to manipulate subtle humour to great results incorporating plenty of clever tongue-in-cheek moments that come out of nowhere. A film like this one is rare, not for its cinematic excellence, but for its quirk and ability to be so many things in such a short time.


Director: Nacho Vigalondo

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Simon Pegg, Agam Darshi and Tim Blake Nelson.

Runtime: 110 mins

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