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Colossal [2016]: Giant monster films have been known to maintain a general plot line, no matter what the creature inflicting terror among cityscapes might be. In a surprising turn of cinematic events, Colossal [2016] opts to diverge from the huge footsteps of King Kong or Godzilla and make its own path as an indie comedy/sci-fi drama. The story centers on party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway), who having recently been kicked out of her boyfriend's home moves back to her childhood town. Gloria meets up with an old friend (Jason Sudeikis), and after a series of drunken wanderings, realizes that she may be controlling a giant monster that recently attacked Seoul. Things take an even darker turn when she discovers that there are other monsters that lurk closer than expected.

It's All Fun and Games: One distinction that separates Colossal from the typical kaiju film is that the previously mentioned creature is not the main focus or threat in the narrative. It would better serve the audience to not divulge much information regarding some plot details, but there is a refreshing piece of humanity ever-present. Although it is subtle, the humor is there too, balanced quite nicely to the scenes where Gloria tries to adapt to her small town roots by mingling at a local bar her friend owns. These critical relationship-building moments come into play as the story goes on, and add a more defined contrast to some of the more heavy sequences in the movie. The amount of detailed CGI incorporated into the monster scenes is also worthy of praise, considering the independent production limitations of Colossal. In a twist of irony, some moments of collateral damage are even more captivating than the bigger blockbusters with computer-generated stars. Take notes, Michael Bay.

Sizing Up the Cast: Since, at its core, Colossal is essentially a drama based around inner human struggle, the cast must be versatile and believable enough in their roles as players in a game of fantastic proportions. For the most part, the ensemble fits those qualifications, albeit for some secondary characters that really serve no purpose other than to incite minute conflict. Hathaway is a very likable lead that isn't really revolutionary in her approach but resonates an endearing vulnerability in the role she plays, mostly as a woman at a crossroads with herself and the bottle. Sudeikis stars alongside her as a childhood friend named Paul, and his part is anything but underwhelming. The character development is palpable with this one, adding more of an original edge to an already innovative concept.

I'm the Monster: Despite a seemingly lighthearted trailer, viewers might be surprised to find that there is a larger message at work besides giant monster fights in Colossal. This twist also isn't the stale, shoe-horned "humans are the real monsters." There is an essence of hope and redemption, while Hathaway's physical and metaphorical monsters are only the turning point in discovering something that rectifies her lost identity. Some of the other characters' motivations might be blurred and abandoned, but Gloria's are easily translated as the plot progresses. And in the end, that is what drives home Colossal's unconventional fantasy tale.

 

Delivering a larger-than-life allegory that teeters on some underdeveloped ideas,
Colossal's clever narrative is enough to overlook those small flaws in an otherwise remarkable film.

Related: The film Colossal is featured on Borrowing Tape's Best Films of 2016 list.

 

Watch Colossal on iTunes or Amazon

Colossal
4.0Overall Score
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