REVIEW: Colossal

28 04 2017

Historically in monster movies, the imminent threat stands in for a more existential fear. From foreign invaders to nuclear weapons and screen addiction, we’ve seen any number of external forces terrorize the cinema. But starting in the 1960s (as compellingly chronicled by Jason Zinoman in his book “Shock Value“), some of these monsters came to represent parts of ourselves. They were manifestations of some internal demons, not some societal hazard.

Nacho Vigalondo’s “Colossal” is the latest film in this tradition as Anne Hathaway’s trainwreck of a character, Gloria, manifests as a godzilla-like beast in Seoul when she gets blackout drunk in a certain radius. The premise sounds a little risible, admittedly, but Hathaway and Vigalondo sell its spirit with gusto. This is not the kind of movie devoted to detailed scientific explanation. You accept the oddly specific rules under which it operates and then delve into its rich metaphorical terrain.

A mid-movie turn in the plot should go unspoiled in a review, but I’ll hint at it by saying it opens “Colossal” up to be more than just a metaphor for alcoholism. The monster is all of us and whatever baggage we carry that makes us act impulsively. It takes a physical manifestation of these forces to make Gloria realize that her actions can cause collateral damage harming people around her. Vigalondo adds plenty of contemporary touches – in particular how the Internet can find a way to turn tragedy into memes instantaneously – but this classical dilemma lies at the very heart of the film. The satisfying resolution shows why Hathaway is uniquely equipped to play the part. It requires creativity, determination and a brushing aside of the haters. B+

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