Lack of Depth Makes This a Waste of Time
Anne Hathaway’s newest starring vehicle sees her teamed up with Spanish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo on Colossal. Making his American theatrical debut, Vigalondo’s Colossal is an original science fiction black comedy that finds Hathaway’s Gloria underemployed and struggling with alcoholism. Already having consumed her relationship with her significant other (played by Dan Stevens of FX’s Legion), and her career prospects in the gutter; she travels to her childhood home where she continues wrecking havoc after reconnecting with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a childhood friend. The ‘catch’ is that each time Gloria gets drunk and stumbles home, a ‘Godzilla’-sized monster terrorizes Seoul, South Korea.
Hathaway, along with costar Jason Sudeikis, made the rounds at the late night talk shows back in April of this year to coincide with the theatrical release of Colossal. The actors had near identical pre-rehearsed ’15 second pitches’ for viewers that playfully outlined the ludicrous storyline, as well as poking fun at the director’s humorous name. This is disappointing – a film with obvious metaphors for more serious issues (alcoholism, violence, self-destruction, self-hate) was mockingly summarized down to it’s most juvenile parts; likely causing it to miss much of its potential audience base. The dumbing down, almost derisive way it was explained is likely because Vigalondo’s metaphorical tale is so directionless and opaque that they couldn’t figure out what it really meant – and neither could we; if there even was a cohesive deeper layer to Colossal.
There is a concern here that Vigalondo had more of a ‘concept’ than a story when writing Colossal. The concept – a combination of a monster movie with a story about alcoholism and sobriety in the packaging of a black comedy – is definitely one-of-a-kind. The problem is Vigalondo doesn’t do enough to pull back the curtain on his story of addiction. While anyone can see the low-hanging fruit – Gloria’s reckless ways mirrored by the havoc caused in South Korea by the monster, we were hoping for more in regards to character growth (or lack of growth). With heavy material as the fare of the day, the lack of deeper meaning beyond the immediate makes Colossal fall flat at times; and grow tired and long by the end.
On a better note, the special effects – especially the design and execution of Hathaway’s monster is well-done, especially taking into account the small budget. Per the director, this was all thanks to the CG team and artists, as no motion capture was used, and Vigalondo had no input into the look of the monster.
Writing: 4/10 – A novel concept that grows old quick without enough depth behind the initial premise.
Special Effects: 8/10 – Costing a slim $15 Million, the CG team did great work on a budget.
Acting & Directing: 6/10 – Not noted specifically in the above review, but passable without any memorable successes or failures.
5/10 – With respectable performances from it’s leads, and good (if not exceptional) direction, Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal isn’t a bad film. However, Colossal’s unique plot device quickly grows old as viewers realize there isn’t much more to the story beyond what we’ve been introduced to in the first 20-30 minutes.