You know, this one is R. I'll agree with that. The movie doesn't go out of its way to be R. It just is a fine, natural R. I'd even say that it was an organic, farm-to-table R. People curse from time to time. Not every word is the F-bomb, but there's a fine sprinkling in there. Could it be PG-13? Yeah, if they tried. But again, I associate PG-13 with GMOs and Big Pharma.
DIRECTOR: Nacho Vigalondo
6.2 out of 10 on IMDB? Are you kidding me? This movie is great. Like, it's really great. I'm going to gush on this movie and assume that the people who savaged this movie are terrible people. Sure, my wife was kind of bored with it, but I thought it was a gutsy movie. Not only that, but I'm going to go into FULL ON SPOILER TERRITORY because I need to talk about what I just watched. Part of that actually involves talking about the marketing strategy behind this movie and how it was a "pull-the-rug-out-from-under-you" tricksy. Yeah, I got feelings and they are strong.
I thought this was supposed to be a sci-fi rom-com. All the dashes, guys. All of the dashes. Watch the trailer on YouTube and tell me that Colossal doesn't look like a sci-fi rom-com. It's not. It's sci-fi, but the movie is primarily about entitlement. This is a story about how men assert dominance in all of the petty creepy ways and I now am paranoid about any time I have been manipulative. As part of this, I have to applaud the casting of Jason Sudekis as Oscar. Sudekis always kind of gets cast as the lovable loser. I have to believe that Nacho Vigalondo knows this. Sudekis comes across as that hapless burnout, but there is this insane dark side that I didn't see coming. I warned you that there were going to be spoilers and that's where I'm going with this comment. The fact that he's a psychopath is completely telling about what men think when they think themselves the victim. His advances are unreciprocated, so he justifies all of his bad behavior following that point. Yes, we too were rotting for your relationship with Gloria, Oscar. But emotions are far more complex things than simply "being a cool guy" and "she should like me." Yeah, the guy that she goes for is kind of a turd. But if she likes that turd, that is her decision. The metaphor of the monsters and the robots is interesting when it comes to manipulation and power. Admittedly, the flashback of Oscar as an evil kid kind of pulls me out of the whole narrative. I kind of like the idea that Oscar was a good guy all of his life, but he also believes that it justifies his evil. That's a great concept for me. Evil Oscar might be a bit indicating, but it also kind of is a commentary on the nice guy. The nice guy isn't always nice. The nice guy is nice because it gets him what he wants sometimes. And that's the story of the movie. Gloria also has another guy after her named Tim. I wish his name wasn't Tim. Daniel Stevens from Downton Abbey plays Tim and he's being a bit of his character from Downton Abbey, only in contemporary America and imagine Lady Mary had a drinking problem and could secretly control a monster in Seoul.
Tim treats Gloria poorly throughout the movie. His character trope is "bad ex-boyfriend." He lives up to that pretty well. We don't root for Tim because he's a bit of a tool. But Gloria really likes that guy in some form or another, which makes the story more interesting. There's a scene where Tim and Oscar are talking around Gloria and it is very telling about the entire patriarchy. They are talking about what Gloria wants and Gloria is just screaming to get a word in. I know that there is this weird vitriol towards Anne Hathaway that I never really understood, but she's so good in this movie. Look at that scene and look at what is tearing her apart. She can't help how she feels about Tim. She hates and loves him at the same time. She is used to feeling helpless and doesn't know how to handle that situation. It's a thing. Remember, I thought that this movie was a rom-com. It might be more of a breakdown of the rom-com. This is how reality works. Sometimes, lots of people are terrible. I don't want to write that from a pessimistic perspective, but Colossal points out many problems that many romantic comedy archetypes tend to ignore. Relationships really are far more complicated and sometimes a character has to be an avatar for a giant monster / robot. As part of this, I need to talk about the entire problematic flashback sequence. I really like the artistic style of the flashback information, but I also feel like I don't really find that information necessary. I don't know what it is about me that I like being kept in the dark when it comes to the origins of science fiction premises, but I don't. Getting hit by lightning while holding action figures just seems unnecessary. I like the idea that some cosmic event simply allowed Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudekis to control giant monsters if they are in the park at the exact hour. My bigger question, however, is why there are still people in Seoul at 8:04 every day? Why would you still be there? They know the exact time that the monsters are going to show up and yet, the army is quickly evacuating people. There are people eating meals at a restaurant right where the monsters keep appearing. I would not be there. The news reports in the movie actually stated that there were an influx of people hoping to see the monster. I get that a little more than the people who are just surprised that monsters keep showing up, but still.
Let's talk about the abuse scene and how this movie got really real. Jason Sudekis beating up on Anne Hathaway takes what most people would consider a fun film and really grounds the whole story. The last shot of the film is post-murder. Gloria, knowing that Oscar will never stop hurting others out of spite, murders him by throwing him far away. There's this moment where she is bruised and beaten inside a bar in Korea that is haunting. She is a stronger person for taking control of her power, but that almost oversimplifies that whole moment. There is no happy moment. Gloria is a different person, not because of her own choosing, but because she was forced to do so. There is the knowledge that life can't go back to normal. She was forced to confront this very literal demon and it took something from her. I know I'm a fan of bummer films, but this movie is almost a secret bummer film. Yeah, she wins, but I refuse to allow that to be the end of the movie for me. I hope to God that there is never a sequel to this movie. While the end of the movie isn't spelled out for us and there is more depth there, I can only imagine that the movie needs us to process that ending instead of spelling it out for us. Again, it's not like this movie was the critical hit that many people needed it to be, but it really does succeed where it needs to. This movie is scary and uncomfortable. I know that many people don't like that emotion, but I think that emotion needs to be explored more in film. Awkwardness and darkness need a real light drawn to it and I think Colossal tells way more than many other films do, let alone other genre films.
Like I mentioned, the movie isn't perfect. I don't love the origin story or the fact that it is teased throughout the film. But this movie has guts where it is meant to have guts. It screams for change without being preachy. I really loved this movie and I still don't get why IMDB kind of savaged this movie. It might be Anne Hathaway, but that seems extremely petty because she really is a talented artist. Regardless, give this lesser known movie a whirl. I know that it was on Amazon Prime, but that managed to disappear. It is on Hulu though. You have Hulu, right?
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.