"Intriguing Premise Doesn’t Deliver"
What You Need To Know:
COLOSSAL is uneven, unsure of its tone and less entertaining than the promise of its basic storyline. The heaviness of Gloria’s alcohol abuse isn’t overcome by the movie’s lighter, more comical moments. Also, there’s no hope or redemption for the movie’s heroine. She’s running away from her monsters but has nothing to run towards. When COLOSSAL finally transitions to being a monster movie, that storyline feels like an afterthought. Most of the entertaining scenes involving Gloria controlling the monster are in the movie’s trailer, and the plot doesn’t stretch far beyond this basic notion. The frequent foul language, heavy themes, unappealing male characters, feminist subtext, and depressing ending make COLOSSAL unsuitable.
(PaPaPa, FeFe, B, LLL, V, S, AAA, DD, M) Strong themes of paganism and addictive mentalities, characters are lost in the world and often prescribe substances to cope, yet can’t find a better alternative, with strong additional feminist themes of female empowerment from controlling and misogynistic male characters, but the movie does seem to take a moral stance against drinking too much and getting drunk; at least 54 obscenities (including about 19 “f” words), six strong profanities and six light profanities; multiple brief scenes of violence involving a monster attacking a city with people running through the streets (no blood or gore), a few instances of two characters fighting or wresting or punching each other, and man is physically abusive to woman; heroine seduces another character, kissing is scene and fornication sex is implied but not shown explicitly; no nudity; the story revolves around heroine’s alcoholism, mostly taking place in a bar with excessive drinking in almost every scene; no smoking, but a character makes reference to another character’s addiction to cocaine; and, instances of blackmail and a character uses moral relativism to excuse physical harm to another character.
Taking inspiration from cult-classic sci-fi, COLOSSAL uses a fantastical storyline to tell a human story. When alcoholic mess Gloria moves to her hometown to “get her life together,” she discovers she’s unknowingly controlling a Godzilla-like monster laying ruin to the city of Seoul. The movie’s storyline premise sounds quirky with the potential to be a cult classic, but the execution isn’t as good or entertaining as the idea itself suggests. Getting lost in its own metaphors, the movie loses focus on its themes, premise and overarching story, leaving audiences with a meandering story about alcoholism and independence lacking moral, redemptive uplifting qualities.
COLOSSAL opens like any classic monster movie. A quiet night in Seoul becomes terrifying when a young girl sees a monster in the city. Cut to 25 years later. Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is a selfish, unsympathetic drunk who only makes excuses for herself when she comes home to her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), after another night of partying. Fed up with Gloria’s excuses, lack of employment and irresponsibility, Tim kicks Gloria out of their Manhattan apartment.
Gloria decides to move back to her hometown to figure out her life. She almost immediately runs into her childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who owns a local bar. At first Gloria resists drinking with Oscar and his friends, but she quickly gives in to a night of drinking and bonding with the guys.
Gloria passes out in the morning and wakes up to the news that a giant Godzilla-type monster is terrorizing the city of Seoul. The whole town’s in shock as they watch the news of the event. Every night Gloria drinks with the guys as they watch news footage of the monster from the bar, until one morning she notices the Monster has the exact same physical quirks as her. It’s not just a coincidence: somehow Gloria is controlling the monster. Suddenly, Gloria realizes all of her actions have colossal consequences. She needs to figure out her life before she destroys an entire city full of millions of people.
COLOSSAL starts off extremely promising with a fun storyline that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The movie does a good job with exposition and character development, helped immensely by some great performances. Gloria is obviously trying to get her life together, and Hathaway gives a great performance to show Gloria’s struggle with alcoholism. One of the movie’s strongest points is the way it deals with the nature of addiction and the dangers of social drinking. At no point in the movie does it ever seem like a good idea for Gloria to drink, which sheds light on a topic that many movies take too lightly these days.
Gloria is also the sole female character in a world run by men. Her boyfriend, Tim, wants to control her, and Oskar becomes extremely jealous of her powers as the monster. Sadly, though, this thread is the least believable, as male characters (especially Oscar) become cartoonish villains. This causes COLOSSAL to fall prey to a current trend of movies so concerned with strong female characters that the male characters are one-dimensional and unrealistic. While this could be a good theme, especially for those in abusive relationships, the lack of any redemptive relationship in the movie leaves the audience without a picture of what a healthy relationship between a man and a woman should look like in our world. Ultimately, there’s no hope or redemption for Gloria. She’s running away from her monsters but has nothing to run towards.
Between its heavy themes, COLOSSAL finally gets around to being a monster movie, a storyline that eventually feels like an afterthought. Most of the entertaining scenes involving controlling the monster are seen in the movie’s trailer, and the plot doesn’t stretch far beyond this basic notion.
As soon as Gloria realizes she’s a monster, she’s too afraid of hurting people to do anything to further the plot. Consequently, most of the conflict becomes reactionary. The first and third act are strong, but the second act drags on as the story meanders from monsters to drinking to villainous men, not sure how they are all connected and vaguely interested in how it will all come together. Characters eventually are motivated by what needs to happen in the plot, causing their personalities to shift from scene to scene as the story dictates.
Overall, COLOSSAL is uneven, not sure of its tone, and less entertaining than the promise of its basic storyline. The heaviness of Gloria’s alcohol abuse is not outweighed by attempts at a lighter touch during the movie’s comedic moments. Frequent graphic language, combined with heavy thematic elements, make the movie unsuitable for children, and adults should exhibit caution as well.
In the end, there isn’t much to take away from Gloria’s adventure in COLOSSAL. The filmmakers clearly show that their heroine shouldn’t drink anymore, but it’s unclear whether she realizes that herself.