Wonderful talents have their time (and ours) and talents wasted in Nacho Vigalondo’s inconsequential allegorical fantasy Colossal.
The Production: 2/5
Wonderful talents have their time (and ours) and talents wasted in Nacho Vigalondo’s inconsequential allegorical fantasy Colossal. Linking childhood traumas to future adult problems amounting to amateur psychology at the most primary level, the writer-director spends almost two hours trying to find comedy and drama in a basically toxic mix of ill-formed characters and fantastical situations that ultimately seems pointless and aimless.
A failed New York writer Gloria (Anne Hathaway) aimlessly spends her days boozing and feeling sorry for herself when her dyspeptic boy friend Tim (Dan Stevens) kicks her out of his apartment, so she crawls back to her parents’ empty homestead to get her life back into focus. She meets up with former school friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who now runs a bar and offers her a part-time job there while also bringing by her house some leftover furniture and appliances to help her feel more at home. But Gloria begins to realize a rather strange occurrence: a direct connection between her and a monstrous alien that’s been terrorizing Seoul, first twenty-five years previously and now reappearing all these years later. And Oscar has a similar connection: his to a giant robot that’s also been making sporadic appearances in Seoul. Gloria and Oscar are connected by a childhood trauma happening with two dioramas they had made for a school project, and now their flinty personal relationship is being mirrored by these two monsters interacting halfway around the world.
Nacho Vigalondo’s premise for his screenplay seems to focus on the irony of two rather insignificant people with their tatty emotional baggage (unrequited love turned to careless and ruthless obsession) causing a huge physical and emotional toll on strangers in another part of the world. If the film’s tone were lighter or more satiric, the death and destruction might be simply shrugged off as part and parcel of the director’s goal, but there is seriousness afoot here leaving a very sour aftertaste after almost every scene once the movie reaches the halfway mark. In fact, much of the problem lies in that we have three leading characters (Gloria, Tim, and Oscar) who are basically dislikable people, so that their emotional turmoil becomes less and less interesting the longer the film runs, and events at the climax that are meant to be exhilarating or at least emotionally satisfying rate nary a shrug. The logistics of that ending don’t really work either once one takes a minute to consider what has gone before, but the premise itself is so ludicrous that thinking that deeply about it is probably a fool’s errand on its own.
The most ingratiating performances in the movie don’t belong to any of the three leads but to two supporting players, both friends of Jason Sudeikis’ Oscar: Tim Blake Nelson’s Garth (who has a cocaine problem) and Austin Stowell’s Joel, the pretty boy of the trio and the one with his own crush on the always-ready-to-party Gloria. Both take their small roles and make them human and worthy of our interest. Anne Hathaway’s Gloria is certainly a mess: soused most of the time and seemingly lacking much drive or ambition to do something other than goof off. Dan Stevens’ Tim is a prig (though we don’t really understand how much he’s actually put up with from Gloria during their time together), but he’s in the film so little that he really doesn’t get a firm chance to develop his characterization past a few tics and stammers. Jason Sudeikis is the real enigma as Oscar. Has his character always had an unhealthy rivalry/obsession with Gloria, or is it simply that he must dominate everyone within his inner circle even to the point of causing them harm? The writing here is so terse that connecting psychological dots is nearly impossible, but Oscar’s slowly growing sense of empowerment and an uneasy mania to be obeyed become so reckless and desperate by the end that any sense of larkish fun we have had from the film’s early scenes dissipates completely by the end.
3D Rating: NA
The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully executed in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is excellent throughout, and color is bold and bright where necessary but always under control with believable and appealing skin tones. Black levels are completely brilliant, and contrast has been consistently applied for a first-rate picture. The movie has been divided into 20 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix gets an excellent spread through the soundstage. Most of the dialogue has been placed in the center channel though there are instances of directional dialogue that give the sound mix extra luster. Bear McCreary’s background score and the various atmospheric effects get nicely threaded through the fronts and rears, and the Seoul attack scenes might not send the deepest bass through the subwoofer, but it’s pretty impressive nevertheless.
Special Features: 1/5
Deleted Scene (4:16, HD)
DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.
Lenticular Slipcase: showing the two personas of Anne Hathaway’s Gloria
There is no denying that Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal is unquestionably something unusual and unique. That his fantasy-allegory doesn’t quite work is a shame, but fans of the stars, the director, or those willing to give the movie a shot might wish to consider a rental. The Universal Blu-ray certainly offers the viewer a fine visual and aural package.