Friday, January 12, 2018



In spite of Dan Stevens and a very memorable fantasy premise, Colossal for me was nothing more than a colossal waste of time.

Sorry, but they walked into that one.

Although, I do get to write a review about it, so, waste of time maybe, but I can't say I regret watching it. It's about , who's a party girl, and a drunk, out-of control loser. The movie's fantasy element is a parable for what it's like to be out of control with an addiction. Because of some flimsy magical happenstance, whenever Anne -- Gloria -- walks through a specific playground at exactly 8:05 AM, a giant Godzilla-like monster appears in Seoul, South Korea, and mimics her movements.

From the moment I saw the trailer I wondered about the logistics of the premise. I was left unsatisfied.

When her boyfriend () can't stand her lazy drunken shenanigans any longer and kicks her out, she goes to her hometown, and starts working at her childhood friend's bar. Yes, wonderful place for an alcoholic to hang out. His name is Owen and he's played by . She chances to walk through this specific playground at the right time several times, is shocked along with the rest of the world at the appearance of the monster, and eventually discovers that the monster is her -- because of a tick where she scratches her head in an obvious and exaggerated manner. Then she gets drunk and shows off her odd party trick to her new buddies ( and ) and Owen, accidentally trips, falls, and kills lots of South Koreans.

But don't worry, it gets better. Owen, trying to catch her, goes into the playground too, and he also has something materialize in Seoul and copy his movements -- a giant robot. Awesome. Now he's kinda excited about his newfound power like Gloria was, but for her there's a bit of a damper because she realized for the first time that her boyfriend was right. She's out of control. She's literally killed people. The parallel between her heightened situation and real-life addiction is obvious. She vows never to let her monster materialize again, and seems to be on the road to recovery, but then things escalate beyond even her control.

*fantasy intensifies*

I suppose this part is meant to be the metaphor for how your addiction can begin to control you. Owen now gets drunk and starts goofing off in the playground. For some reason she feels responsible for this and is quick to break her vow in order to stand up to him. He apologizes, but later is drunk again and back at it, and before you know it, reaches full villain scale when he threatens innocent lives to make her stay working for him. When she doesn't take him seriously enough he makes good on the threat in one of the most weirdly dark and unpleasant scenes I've witnessed in a movie. As he stomps on the wood chips, she's laying on the ground inches from him reaching out and screaming, yet never moves to physically stop him. We're supposed to understand that she can't, but it simply doesn't make sense.

After that the allegory falls apart, because to solve the problem she goes to Seoul, making her monster appear at the playground, picks Owen up, and hurls him across the state, killing him. But it's okay, because he called her a b**** before she decided to do it. What's the takeaway from the ending? I have no clue. There's an obvious point of girl-power, because she never gets any help from her friends or the police, and she ends up alone but "happy." But after thinking about it for a few days, the only lesson I can see concerning addiction is that it seems to say that once you've solved you own problems, it's totally okay for you to kill people with the same problems if they don't figure it out like you did.

Nice Job. Let's hope no one takes that attitude to heart.

I am %1000 sure that that is not what the movie makers meant the point to be, but if there's a more reasonable one, I completely missed it. I think Owen is always meant to be an extension of a sort of Gloria's problem, since story-wise her problem isn't truly fixed until she's rid of him, but if that's the case I don't get what killing him is a metaphor for. (If you have any insights I'd welcome a discussion.)

One definite, but probably unintentional lesson is that you should never let, or go to others for help. Dan Stevens goes to her aid, but only comes across as needy and wishy-washy because he kicks her out and then gets jealous of her for moving on. Then there's Austin Stowell's character, who was present on the sidelines for many of her fights with Owen to get him out of the playground. This guy totally could have stepped in and helped her, but in the movie's eyes it isn't even a possibility. He's even on her side. But he just stands there. It doesn't make sense.

The head-scratching bit irked me to no end because of how played up it was.

I don't care for Anne Hathaway, and I don't think she did a particularly good job, but I don't blame her for my inability to sympathize with her character. Gloria comes across surprisingly unsympathetic in spite of what happens to and because of her. The culprit is, I believe, the movie's insincere tone. Jason Sudeikis did do an interesting job turning into a disturbing villain, but the transition was jarring in a way that doesn't sit right. The movie's tonal shifts are all jarring, though you can see attempts at dark comedy throughout. Instead it comes across as irreverently dark, milking the disturbing moments for shocking drama, then kicking back and flippantly expecting us to laugh at it all, which is the last thing I felt like doing.

It's a fantasy movie, but tries to ground itself in reality, drawing clear parallels to real-life problems, but the grounding doesn't take. The story slowly floats further and further away from reality until by then end it cops out with a falsely empowering ending, and never finishes it's thought on addiction, the reason the story existed in the first place. I think they simplified the issue far too much, and instead of letting the story drive through its natural path to a conclusion, it was forced to go the way they wanted. Each forced turn pushed the movie further and further into its own fantasy land.

"Moral of the story? Oh, idk.... addiction is... um, what were we talking about?"

I don't have much experience with this kind of thing in real-life, but I think they ignored the most overarching truth -- that if you need help you don't have to face your problems alone -- merely so they could scrounge up an inspiring and empowering ending for their amazingly dis-likable heroine. The way I see it, Colossal never moves past the stage she was at in the very beginning; in denial that it has a problem in the first place. It just stomps around in wild destruction, shouting its incoherent message into a fantastical, meaningless void.

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