Vigalondo’s Sneakily Subversive, Serious Monster Movie is Colossal

by Eric Melin on April 29, 2017

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Rock Fist Way Up]

Colossal—a movie that borrows from several genres to make something that’s thrillingly original—has a lot more on its mind than its ultra-silly premise.

In fact, Colossal is one of those movies that is decidedly not for the kind of viewer who enjoys poking holes in cinematic logic. It demands that viewers accept that writer-director Nacho Vigalondo (in his English-language debut) is painting with very broad strokes and using our expectations of Hollywood formulas against us.

And even then, Colossal is not meant to sit comfortably with anybody.

Ostensibly, the film is about a woman (Anne Hathaway) with a drinking problem who is kicked out of her boyfriend’s Manhattan apartment and goes back to her hometown in upstate New York to figure things out. She runs into an old friend (Jason Sudeikis) who owns a bar and, after a long night of after-hours drinking, comes to believe that her exact movements are controlling a giant kaiju-like monster that’s currently rampaging off the coast of Seoul, South Korea.

The movie is actually all about control, and the monster that’s duplicating her actions halfway around the globe makes her personal destruction very literal. It’s an odd (and audacious) metaphor, and it’s also one that begins to change in the most unexpected ways, as Colossal slowly shifts from being an absurd romantic comedy to a drama that demands to be taken seriously. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work just the way it was designed—but not expected—to.

Much like the twist in 2014’s superb sci-fi fable Ex Machina, Colossal suckers you into thinking that even with all the wild window dressing, the movie is still going to conform to a standard Hollywood plot. But then it asks you to look to the fringes of the supernatural rom-com to see what’s really happening.

If this were a movie directed by someone like Christopher Nolan, then it might have all of its bases covered in the story department to connect the faux-science dots, but the Vigalondo movie isn’t interested in that. The director seems to know his premise is ridiculous, so while he challenges audiences to take it at face value, he also asks them to consider the real issues and perspective that lie beneath what’s actually happening onscreen. Doing that deepens the experience and makes Colossal a sneakily subversive film that demands to be considered seriously.

Eric’s Test-O-Time Meter: Buy the Blu-ray!

This review is part of Eric Melin’s “LM Screen” column that appears in the summer 2016 edition of Lawrence Magazine.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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