COLOSSAL review

So, funny story… or perhaps heartbreaking depending on who you ask, the night I saw this movie, my buddy and I were actually on our way to see a Japanese anime movie called PAPRIKA (2017) – trailer here –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn7U1KIGeuQ – but fuck L.A’s 405 freeway for needing construction work every five God-damned minutes, so we had to bail on that plan. Fortunately, the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood was still open, so we opted for a late movie that was likely not as trippy as PAPRIKA, but still looked pretty odd. Plus, alcohol. We both needed it.

EDIT: Just looked it up. PAPRIKA was actually made in 2006 and released to the US in 2007. I… was not aware of this fact. Fuck my poor eyesight… or brain for not paying attention. Bit of a weakness of mine and boy-howdy do I have a co-worker that hates my lack of attentiveness.

Anywho, from the moment that this movie was announced, I was beyond skeptical. First of all, everything was saying that Anne Hathaway was a kaiju. Umm… I wasn’t sure how to take that. Does she transform into a giant monster somehow? My imagination went wild and information at that time was pretty tight-nit, so I didn’t get any real clarification until the trailer came out. She plays a woman who somehow controls a kaiju. Now things are clear… uh, or rather, interesting. The movie was weird, but my buddy and I needed to see something while we were out in L.A. so we saw this instead.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Obviously, starring is Hathaway (ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS [2016], INTERSTELLAR [2014], THE DARK KNIGHT RISES [2012], and the upcoming OCEAN’S EIGHT [2018]). Once upon a time, Hathaway was America’s sweetheart and one of the most on demand young actresses after starring in her big-break role and arguably her most famous role, Disney’s THE PRINCESS DIARIES (2001). But then something happened not long after… she hated her Disney roots and tried desperately to paint her image more adult oriented. She starred in HAVOC (2005), which featured her naked body and a sex scene or two. While she still did a few kids films here and there, as well as a few comedies, it was clear with the more critically acclaimed dramas she was picking, she was eager to be taken more seriously and not get typecast. Some of her choices were good (GET SMART [2008]), others… not so much (VALENTINE’S DAY [2010]). She also gained a nasty reputation for being one of the most hated celebrities in Hollywood, and to be honest, I didn’t really know why. I wasn’t seeing many articles about her murdering kittens or setting fire to churches. Nope, turns out that people hate her because… I don’t know, someone pissed in their cereal. I know there’s a lot to make fun of when it comes to her. She’s co-hosted the Oscars once, which was a travesty, from what I hear. Any time she wins an award, she acceptance speeches are hammy and kind of annoying, from what I hear. But for me, I never disliked Hathaway. I find it annoying that actresses feel the need to grow out of their kids films roots by starring in raunchy films that feature titties, but I have a problem with actresses that do that in general, not specifically Hathaway. But then again, I never know if they make these choices because they think these films feature a character that they really think will elevate them and challenge them as actresses, or if it was simply to be seen as an adult, and what better way to prove you’re an adult by flashing the audience? Maybe it’s a mix of those reasons. Either way, I have no idea, so I don’t judge. I just simply ask the question, “Really? There was no other role?” And it’s not like it didn’t pay off in time, as some of her more mature roles are very good. It’s just weird that they needed that door to walk through to get those opportunities.

Wow, I had a lot to say about Hathaway, didn’t I? Well there you go. I think she’s a fine actress, I don’t agree with the hate, moving on to the rest of the cast. In support, we have Jason Sudeikis (RACE [2016], HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 [2014], and TV show SON OF ZORN), Dan Stevens (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST [2017], THE GUEST [2014], and TV show LEGION), and Tim Blake Nelson (BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK [2016], FANT4STIC [2015], and THE INCREDIBLE HULK [2008]).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing and writing is Nacho Vigalondo, known for OPEN WINDOWS (2014) and EXTRATERRESTRIAL (2011). Composing the music is- *double take* – Bear McCreary?! Dude! I love this guy! Anyway, he’s known for 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016) and TV shows BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES. Finally, the cinematographer is Eric Kress, known for TAKEN 3 (2014).

Overall, this was pretty weird and I was pretty interested.

This is my honest opinion of: COLOSSAL

(SUMMARY)

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is in a bad place in life. She drinks heavily, which resulted in her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) kicking her out of their apartment. Gloria returns to her hometown where she almost immediately encounters an old childhood friend from school, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). They catch up and he offers her a job, but it’s not long before the world is rattled by an earth-shattering phenomenon. Seoul, Korea is being attacked by a giant monster that appears and disappears at the same time every day. However, as the events unfold, Gloria bizarrely discovers that she may be connected to the monster in some way. Whenever she walks across this kids playground, in one specific spot, that’s when the monster appears and mimics her movements, including her nervous tick of scratching her head.

(REVIEW)

Yup, this was weird as hell and I’m not sure if I mean that in a good or bad way.

First and foremost, the movie is marketed like it’s a comedy. Every line from a reviewing outlet states how quirky and funny it is. But truth be told… it’s really not. And I don’t mean that like the jokes fall horribly flat or anything. No, it’s written like a quirky drama. I won’t say that there’s literally no comedy in the flick, but it’s pretty far inbetween. In fact, the drama can get pretty… dramatic at times. There’s drunken violence against women, there’s death and destruction, it gets pretty heavy-handed in some scenes. This isn’t necessarily a negative toward the movie, but it doesn’t feel like what’s advertised in the trailers. I can definitely imagine a few people out there claiming that this movie was falsely advertised.

More on that, you know your movie isn’t a comedy when your actor, who has built a career out of playing comedic and quirky characters, Nelson, barely says a single funny line. Again, and I don’t know how many times I can emphasize this, it’s not because the jokes are bad. There’s no jokes written. Regardless, Nelson delivers one of the more standout performances. In fact, the acting is very good all around. Hathaway is pretty solid as a woman trying to make ends meet while trying to figure out her connection to the monster in Seoul. Whenever a discovery is made about her connection to it, her reactions carry a lot of weight to the discovery. She does some usual things, like making it dance, obviously having fun with it. But when she realizes that she’s accidentally killed people, then that carries weight as well. She’s devastated, she cries, and she’s determined to make things right, bringing a surprising amount of heart to the story.

***SPOILERS***

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But while Hathaway is good in this, the other scene stealer that gives Nelson a run for his money is Sudeikis. This actually might be one of his better performances he’s delivered in recent memory. At first, he plays Oscar like the really compassionate and really nice guy. He offers Gloria a job at his bar when she’s down and out and he gives her furnishing for her house when she didn’t have any. You start off really liking him. But then all of this kaiju business starts and his small-town life suddenly gets more interesting, and you see how this becomes something worth keeping around. Not to mention that hint of jealousy when Gloria drunkenly flirts with his friend, Joel (Austin Stowell), and not him. So once all that comes to a head, he becomes this atrociously manipulative jack-off that you want to punch in the jugular. When we find out that there’s a second kaiju, a robot that’s controlled by him, and he threatens the lives of everyone in Seoul if she doesn’t stay employed at his bar or have drinks with him when he knows that she’s trying to clean up her act. And when she defies him, he has the most vengeful look in his eye that makes him legitimately threatening. Seriously, Sudeikis needs to play more bad guys. He’d be amazing.

And this isn’t a negative, but I love how we have two movies out right now where a giant human-controlled something or other bitch-slaps the human-sized villain out of the movie. Eh, well, POWER RANGERS (2017) bitch-slapped, Hathaway simply threw Sudeikis away. Humorous either way.

Finally, let’s talk about the absence of logic. Here’s what I mean. The movie surprisingly ties everything together. Gloria and Oscar can control the monsters because they were struck by a bolt of lightning as kids. Seoul is the target city because Gloria made a school presentation of the city. The monster looks the way it does because of the toy she had. She scratches her head because that’s where she got struck by the lightning bolt. The playground and Seoul are linked portals of some kind because we later see Gloria in Seoul confronting the robot that Oscar is controlling and at the same time, Gloria’s monster arrives in their hometown, where she kills Oscar. It all makes a bizarre kind of sense. However, there’s no explanation how this is possible. Then it hit me. This isn’t a sci-fi movie; it’s fantasy. The defining trait of any fantasy story is that the “how” of anything works isn’t necessary. Certainly rules need to be put forward, and the movie needs to be consistent with them, but the science of it is never owed an explanation. We don’t question how the wands of Harry Potter work. It’s fantasy, we just get it. Not once do the characters in this movie ask how anything works or offer up some pseudo-science about wormholes, or quantum entanglements, or whatever the fuck, they just sort of accept that this is happening… with proper emotional response anyway and that’s something I really liked about this movie in the end. It took me quite awhile to get to that epiphany, but it did help me appreciate the movie a little more.

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***END SPOILERS***

But for all the talent that elevates the movie, that’s where it stops.

The primary problem is that while there’s a fun concept here with some possibilities, logic is completely thrown out the window for some of this movie. First off, there’s some inconsistencies within how Gloria “operates” the monster. At first, it makes sense when she walks through the playground. The monster appears, and then carves a path of destruction in her wake. Fine, got it, I’m on board. But then we later find out if a helicopter crashes into the monster’s head, Gloria will feel that. Well… how can she not feel the water resistance when the monster is walking in the ocean? When her feet are stepping on cars, her arms, shoulders, legs, all of them scraping or knocking buildings over, how come she doesn’t feel any of that? It’s not like the helicopter is somehow moving at a faster velocity than her feet are, so one would think the first giveaway of would be those things. It’s only one problem, but it’s distracting throughout the story.

***SPOILERS***

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Another problem I had was how Gloria didn’t recognize the monster. We later discover that she had a monster toy that looked exactly like the monster that attacks Seoul, and Oscar had a robot toy exactly like the robot. How do neither of them have that moment of, “Huh… why do these things look so familiar?” Fine if they don’t actually piece the pieces together right there and then, but it’s still kind of odd that they didn’t find some familiarity with them.

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, I can’t say that I hated this movie. In fact, I don’t even think it’s okay. Above average. It helps to look at the movie in a certain way. Maybe I’m just making excuses for myself so I don’t think I made a mistake in spending money on it. But knowing what I do, I say that it’s an above average flick. It won’t be for everyone, but if you can open your mind to the insanity and really give this deceptively complex story a real shot, I think you can get something out of it. Not great, but it’s quirky and weird enough to be enjoyable and worth the time of day. I don’t think I recommend it in theaters, unless it’s a cheap matinee, but definitely worth a rent.

My honest rating for COLOSSAL: a strong 3/5

colossal-poster2

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