By Andrew Buckner
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.
Successfully spanning many genres and moods, writer-director Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal (2016) is one of the most fiercely original takes on the traditional monster at large tale that I’ve seen. Anne Hathaway is perfect as Gloria; the lead of Vigalondo’s 109-minute project. She lends likability, as well as wounded anger and vulnerability, to her on-screen persona; an unemployed alcoholic who, after her sudden return to the small town of Maidenhead, finds out that she has a direct connection to a rampaging beast. More specifically, a gargantuan brute who intermittently attacks Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. As the chronicle unfolds, Oscar (in a spectacular turn from Jason Sudeikis), a local bar owner and long-time friend of Gloria, becomes more involved in the plight of Vigalondo’s protagonist than he could’ve ever imagined.
It’s a terrific set-up. Such a promising plot becomes increasingly enthralling when orchestrated alongside Vigalondo’s deft balance of intimate character focus, credible narrative shifts and abundant creativity. The pace is just as form-fitting. It is gradual and natural. This allows for an uncluttered, thorough and satisfying examination of the various storytelling ingredients of the production. Such only makes the endeavor evermore admirable.
Additionally, the afore-mentioned contributions from Vigalondo are just as proficient. These qualities are gloriously framed by a climax that brings a refreshing and emotionally resonant spin on the routine clashing titans finale. Such has become a staple in related kaiju ventures. Correspondingly, the last sequence, especially the concluding bits of dialogue, tie many of the main elements of the account together. This is in an efficient, deceptively simple and extraordinarily clever fashion.
The effects, which Vigalondo’s opus doesn’t heavily rely on, are magnificent. They are also reminiscent of what one might see in one of the numerous Godzilla style pictures from which Vigalondo’s destructive creature clearly derives inspiration. This only heightens the underlying wit of the composition. Simultaneously, the make-up and sound department work is splendid. When combined with Bear McCreary’s immersive music and Eric Kress’ masterful cinematography, this alternately light-hearted comedy, sobering drama and flat-out enjoyable science-fiction saga hits all the right notes. It seamlessly blends these categories into a brilliant concoction.
Vigalondo’s latest is an all-around triumphant coming of age spectacle. It further benefits from its on-going commentary on human interactions. This Neon distribution release is also striking for its delicately threaded layers of symbolism. The beast being an extension of Gloria’s personal problems is the most prominent. Such results in a wholly unique experience. This is undoubtedly one of the best films of the year.
(R). Contains adult language and some violence.
Colossal is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and to rent or buy on digital platforms.