REVIEW: COLOSSAL (2017) has a better kind of monster

While some may expect a traditional monster movie, COLOSSAL offers a refreshing departure from the norm.
Orly Agawin

In the vast sea of options on Netflix, I stumbled upon COLOSSAL (2017) and decided to give it a try. After all, it was directed by Nacho Vigalondo, the brilliant mind behind the unforgettable TIMECRIMES. Known for his dark humor and mind-bending twists, it was one of my best watches in 2007. With high hopes and curiosity, I pressed play.

Then, 9 minutes into the film, I knew I had made a rewarding choice.

Director Nacho Vigalondo’s COLOSSAL is delightful and unique. It ingeniously blends humor, introspection, and monster movie mayhem. Anchored by Anne Hathaway's captivating performance, the story revolves around her character Gloria, an alcoholic whose personal struggles manifest in the form of a colossal creature wreaking havoc in Seoul. With a premise that sounds like a comic sketch blown up to feature length, COLOSSAL defies expectations by wholeheartedly embracing its central idea and delving into its complexities without losing its sense of cinematic cleverness and subtle humor.

The film's strength lies in its ability to navigate between dream-like allegory and realistic psychological comedy seamlessly. Vigalondo, known for his distinct genre films, masterfully crafts a narrative that walks the fine line between the surreal and the relatable. It's as if someone deciphered an intense nightmare and transformed it into a whimsical yet introspective exploration of unresolved issues. 

The result is a movie that offers entertainment and reflection, leaving audiences pondering the connections between personal turmoil and the havoc it can wreak.

Hathaway triumphs in the role of Gloria, striking a delicate balance between desperation and nonchalance. Her performance exudes a certain charm, capturing the essence of a woman caught in a self-destructive cycle. Supported by a talented ensemble cast, Hathaway skillfully portrays Gloria as a flawed yet endearing character who teeters on the edge of self-awareness and seeks redemption.

COLOSSAL impresses with its ability to take the characters' problems seriously while never becoming overly self-important. It cleverly uses the monster's rampage to represent Gloria's personal struggles, maintaining a consistent tone that blends comedy, drama, and introspection. 

The film's unique sense of humor lies in its refusal to adhere to the expected tropes of its genre, defying any urge for events to escalate further. Instead, the focus lies on internal conflicts within characters and their journey toward self-discovery and growth.

While COLOSSAL is primarily a character-driven film, it subtly hints at broader political and racial dimensions. It speaks about comfortable Americans projecting their turmoil onto another culture without fully acknowledging the consequences of their wanton destructiveness. Though this aspect of the film remains under-examined, it adds a rich depth that could have been further developed.

While some may expect a traditional monster movie, COLOSSAL offers a refreshing departure from the norm. It's not another PREDATOR (1987) or GODZILLA VS. KONG (2019), but an engaging exploration of personal growth and the impact of our internal struggles on the world around us. The film reminds us that everyone battles their own demons, even if they don't come in the form of giant footprints.

That said, COLOSSAL is an unconventional yet conventional film that is entertaining and introspective. It's a testament to Vigalondo's talent for crafting offbeat genre films and Hathaway's ability to portray complex characters. 

By blending humor, introspection, and monster movie elements, COLOSSAL delivers a unique cinematic experience that lingers long after the credits roll.

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