If you want something a bit off-beat, Colossal might meet your needs in this old-school-monster-meet-dysfunctional-people movie.
Unemployed and alcoholic Gloria (ANNE HATHAWAY) gets thrown out of boyfriend Tim’s apartment after one too many times of late night partying. In a haze, she returns to her small town of Mainhead where she bumps into old childhood friend Oscar. Oscar seems pretty decent at first, setting Gloria up with some furniture and giving her a job at his bar, but as Gloria begins to find her feet, Oscar shows signs that the last thing he wants is for Gloria to be whole again. On top of that, a giant monster is wreaking Seoul (yup, the city in Korea) and Gloria realizes that she’s somehow in control of it.
The premise is pretty weird. I know this because everyone I talked to said so. I thought it was pretty cool. Original too. I mean, how many movies are there where the heroine is actually the monster? Well…Shrek maybe. And that was still way different from this. Oh, sorry about the spoiler if you haven’t seen Shrek yet.
The set-up to all the action is done well. Gloria’s loss of her carefree lifestyle and boyfriend in New York City is apparent when she arrives in dumpy suburban Mainhead. Her comedic ability to fall asleep in poor places and ongoing drama with her inflatable mattress is deliciously painful to watch. Oscar turns up at the right time, casting himself into the dubious role of knight in shining armour – the kind of careworn 21st Century cowboy you want Gloria to get together with.
As Gloria vaguely tries to scrape her life together, reports begin to surface that a monster is appearing in Seoul and wrecking the city. This, for me, was where things started to go a little awry. The monster itself was not a problem. I mean, I knew this was coming and I was looking forward to it. But Gloria’s reaction to this news is difficult to swallow. When she first learns of the monster, Gloria is disturbed… I mean, disturbed in a weird way. To put it into perspective, she’s just broken up with her live-in boyfriend, had to move out of the city, learned that a few people she thought was alive were actually dead – and her reactions to all of this was a sort of melancholy numbness. But when she turns on the TV and sees this supernatural report on the news in Seoul, she’s suddenly spurred to being so utterly horrified that that’s all she can focus on for the next few days. And this is before she even discovers that she is the monster.
From there, the scriptwriting starts to feel like it never made it past the first draft . Oscar’s character goes from sweet to sinister in a matter of minutes. I’m fairly sure that this was provoked by Gloria having a fling with his friend Joel – which on paper may seem understandable, but on screen didn’t translate properly. I mean, Oscar goes BONKERS. Like serial killer kind of bonkers. Like he was wiping down a bar a second ago and then suddenly he seems like the kind of person who would be eating someone’s liver with a glass of chianti kind of bonkers.
It was admirable that the moviemakers did attempt to bring a kind of depth to what would otherwise could be a pretty shallow story. We see hints of themes on a whole host of real psychological issues such as alcoholism, drug use and compulsive hoarding. But the problem for me was that there were so many introduced in the story and none of them were really delved into. I would have loved to see Gloria’s fight as the monster parallel her fight to get control of her own issues and although this does seem to happen, it all happens a little too easily. One moment, she’s a deadbeat slave to alcohol and the next she’s the heroine of Seoul with a heart of gold.
The monster aspect of the movie alone was pretty entertaining to watch. Gloria’s discovery of her connection with the monster was probably one of the highlights for me, as were the few twists that became part of that discovery. But once again, the setup for that was so well done that in comparison, the closure felt hastily thought out.
I emerged from the movie slightly disappointed. But it must be mentioned that those around me seemed to have had a positive experience as they had only be expecting a monster movie. So perhaps go in expecting more Godzilla than a Sundance film and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.