Saturday, March 10, 2018

Colossal (2016 film)

Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, Colossal is the story of an unemployed writer who believes she is responsible for controlling a monster that is wreaking havoc somewhere on Earth. The film is an unconventional comedy in which a woman deals with her alcoholism and lack of progress in life as well as being strangely connected to a monster halfway across the world. Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, and Tim Blake Nelson. Colossal is a strange yet exhilarating film from Nacho Vigalondo.

The film follows an alcoholic writer who is forced to return home to New Jersey after her boyfriend breaks up with her where she learns that is connected with a monster creating chaos in Seoul, South Korea. It’s a film that plays into a woman dealing with not just her failures and lack of progress in life but also this sense that she could be responsible for possibly killing people half a way across the world. Nacho Vigalondo’s screenplay follows the protagonist Gloria (Anne Hathaway) who spends much of her time going out to cope with her uncertainty which angers her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) who kicks her out of their New York City apartment. Upon returning to her hometown and to her unfurnished family home, she reconnects with her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who runs a local bar as she would eventually work there and drink there often until she learns about this monster destroying things in Seoul.

Realizing her connection to the monster and how it might’ve happened as she has to appear at a certain time and a certain location. Things would intensify during the second act is relates to Oscar and his own faults in his life in how he’s trying to run a bar that isn’t going well despite the fact that there’s so much he can do. Yet, his frustrations would eventually cause Gloria to deal with her own faults but what she can to control her life as well as being the monster who would eventually deal with another evil force that is causing more havoc in Seoul.

Vigalondo’s direction does have elements of style but balances it with humor and drama in order to create something that is straightforward which is sort of unexpected in comparison to films about monsters. Shot largely in Vancouver as New Jersey and parts of Seoul and New York City, the film is essentially set in the suburbs where in the middle of the area between Gloria’s family home and Oscar’s bar is this playground where much of the action involving this monster happens. There are some wide shots in some of the action that involve the monster as well as in some establishing location shots and scenes in the bar. Yet, Vigalondo would use close-ups and medium shots to play into some of the comedic and dramatic events including some unique compositions in how Gloria’s movements on a certain spot in the playground would match how the monster would move. The third act as it relates to how Gloria is connected with the monster and the location refers to a prologue that occurred 25 years earlier in Seoul as it all play into a recurring flashback involving a young Gloria and Oscar at the site before the playground emerged. Even as it would force Gloria to do something as it relates to the lack of control she’s had in her life and the need to take control of it. Overall, Vigalondo crafts a riveting yet witty film about a woman’s strange connection with a monster wreaking havoc in Seoul.

Cinematographer Eric Kress does excellent work with the cinematography from the damp, autumn-like look of the exterior scenes in New Jersey to the low-key lighting and moods for the scenes in the bar. Editors Ben Baudhuin and Luke Doolan do superb work with the editing as it does have some offbeat rhythmic cuts to play into the humor and action as it relates to Gloria’s connection with the monster. Production designer Sue Chan, with set decorator Josh Plaw and art director Roger Fires, does fantastic work with the look of Gloria’s family home without the furniture as well as the look of the bar that Oscar runs. Costume designer Antoinette Messam does nice work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward for the fact that most of the characters wear casual clothing.

Visual effects supervisor Phil Jones does brilliant work with the look of the monster as well as the evil force it would face including the film’s climax. Sound editor Mark Gingras does terrific work with the sound in the way the monster sounds as well as the atmosphere of Oscar’s bar and the air sirens that would pop up at a certain time. The film’s music by Bear McCreary is wonderful for its low-key mixture of orchestral music and electronic music to play into the elements of sci-fi and comedy while music supervisor Linda Cohen provides a fun soundtrack that features elements of rock, hip-hop, and indie music.

The casting by Maureen Webb is incredible as it feature a couple of notable small roles from Hannah Cheramy as the young Gloria and Nathan Ellison as the young Oscar. Austin Stowell is terrific as a friend of Oscar in Joel whom Gloria is attracted to while Tim Blake Nelson is superb as another friend of Oscar in Garth who often rambles yet is also struggling with his own sobriety from drugs. Dan Stevens is fantastic as Gloria’s boyfriend Tim who is pretty much an asshole that often berates her for her issues while not doing much to help her in order to make himself feel superior. Jason Sudeikis is brilliant as Oscar as an old friend of Gloria who is running a bar and is dealing with his own lack of progress in his life as it’s a complex performance that is filled with some dark aspects that makes him a very unique character. Finally, there’s Anne Hathaway in a sensational performance as Gloria as it’s an offbeat and lively performance from Hathaway who displays a charisma and vulnerability as well as showing someone that is troubled and in need of control as it’s really one of the best performances of her career so far.

Colossal is a phenomenal film from Nacho Vigalondo that features a tremendous performance from Anne Hathaway. Along with its top-notch visual effects, great ensemble cast, and its offbeat approach to sci-fi, black comedy, and drama. It’s a film that explore a woman dealing with her lack of progress and control in life until she starts to realize her strange connection to a monster wreaking havoc in Seoul. In the end, Colossal is an incredible film from Nacho Vigalondo.

Nacho Vigalondo Films: Timecrimes – (Extraterrestrial (2011 film)) – (Open Windows)

© thevoid99 2018


Brittani Burnham said...

I'm really glad I didn't know a lot about this film going in because the abusive relationship plot caught me off guard and I love that the movie went that direction with it. It's a great film.

s. said...

That was one of the best scripts - and movies - of last year. I think this is Hathaway's best work. It's a shame it's so underseen but at least people seem to be enjoying that one in our blogosphere.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-It is as it's a film that has some substance as well as being entertaining as it was better than I thought it would be.

@Sati-I was fortunate that my local library had a copy of the film as it gave me the chance to see it. I love watching Queen Anne in this film. She said that one of the reasons she wanted to do this film because it reminded her of the movies she liked to watch when she was a teenager. It was obvious how much fun she was having and being able to be funny and relaxed. She is a joy to watch as I would love for her to do more films like this.

Alex Withrow said...

Nice review here. I agree, the visual effects in this film really were great. I'm always so confused when a movie like this one (with a $15 million budget) has better FX than a $150 million moive. But oh well.

thevoid99 said...

@Alex-That is also baffling as I was watching clips from What We Do in the Shadows as that was a film with a very small budget but had visual effects that looked top-notch. It does baffle me into the money put into visual effects in big Hollywood films as I blame George Lucas for that as he provided a template where everyone can create something instantly and then cover it up with all sorts of bullshit to make it look expensive when it still looks and feels cheap.