Colossal is technically your typical romantic comedy. But it isn’t. Just picture your usual suspects, Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, with a few up-and-comers thrown in for good measure. Let’s talk about the story, guy dumps girl, girl moves back to her hometown, girl meets childhood friend who happens to have a crush on her, girl falls for childhood friend’s other friend. Seems typical right? Let me continue. Girl realises she controls a Kaiju-esque creature in South Korea. Welcome to the insane mind of filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo.
Let me just get the obvious out of the way, that sentence, though seemingly out of place, is not a joke, and with that being said, neither is it a gimmick. A gimmick is a film’s selling point, it is something a film relies on to market itself, and without said gimmick, the film is nothing but a generic, forgettable, straight-to-DVD feature. However, in Colossal, this idea of a gargantuan creature in Korea being controlled by millennials is actually a plot point the film builds up on from the get-go. Despite it being true that without this gimmick, the film would not be as special as it is, let’s consider the direction the film took after the midpoint, monsters aside, the film stops being about characters finding love and starts being about characters finding love within themselves. It raises important questions about what it means to be in a satisfying relationship, the stages of mental illness and what love truly is, and that’s what sets Colossal apart from other films of the genre, it’s not the gimmick, it’s the film’s unique take on love, it’s the film’s capacity to ask such thought provoking questions while still maintaining its light hearted exterior, in short, it successfully subverts genre expectations, making for a truly distinct piece of cinema.
As with most films of the genre, the technical aspects of the film are not really any sight to behold. The film takes what it has and creates something grounded within its reach, without seeming too overly ambitious. The shots of the monsters wrecking the South Korean landscape are visually stunning, as if taken directly from Pacific Rim or Godzilla. The scenes in the bar, where a bulk of the film’s central plot is set in, is beautiful enough, with the DP ingeniously playing around with the neon lights to evoke a sense of dejectedness and melancholia within the characters, without calling too much attention to itself. Though not the most visually impressive film of the genre, I would say the film more than pleases the eye in that sense, considering its subject matter.
Praises aside, the film does has its fair share of flaws, some character actions seemed to have unclear motivations and the ending feels a little bit of a cop-out, with the story’s focus suddenly shifting. With that being said, no film is really perfect, and if you’re looking for a unique and fun little indie film to lose yourself in, do catch this film in theatres!
By: Zach Wee