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Colossal

Year: 2016
Production Co: Toy Fight Productions
Director: Nacho Vigolondo
Writer: Nacho Vigolondo
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Tim Blake Nelson

Not having got around to seeing this film until quite awhile after it came out, I was really looking forward to it. It looked like it was going to contain a fairly smart allegory, had a good cast, and when it started to unfurl I appreciated the way it treated the science of what was happening somewhat seriously.

It also successfully melds two classic cinematic ideas that couldn't be more different - the lost soul returning home to a sleepy hamlet to really find him/herself from a hundred indie dramas and a big budget CGI adventure of a giant monster let loose in a big city.

Whatever you think about any trailer, poster or idea you've seen or heard about the film it's not a King Kong , Pacific Rim or Cloverfield -style creature movie. The creature here is connected to Gloria (Anne Hathaway) in a way she could never imagine until she discovers it by accident.

It starts out with Gloria pushing her patient boyfriend one step too far. Atfer one more all-night bender with friends who want nothing more than the boozy, irresponsible version of her, Gloria's boyfriend kicks her out of their New York apartment, finally over it.

She returns to her childhood home in a quiet upstate town, moving in to the abandoned house and trying to get settled in fits and starts by getting electricity and internet connected and threadbare furniture organised.

She also finds a new group of friends led by former teenage friend Oscar (Sudeikis), who owns the local bar and gives her a job. Unfortunately a bar is the worst place for an alcoholic to work, and Glorioa starts spending more nights trashed, waking up with a sore head and wondering what she's done. One of those mornings she (along with the rest of the world) sees the shocking news from Seoul, South Korea, where a giant creature has appeared and destroyed swathes of the city.

While her and her friends try to deal with the secondhand trauma the way the rest of the world did after 9/11, life goes on until the script pulls its coup. After news footage of the monster scratching its head quizzically in a gesture that Gloria recognises in herself, she hardly dares imagine - could she be connected to it somehow, maybe even controlling it?

After setting up an experiment at the playground in a local park, the truth is revealed to Oscar and Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) watching the live news footage on a tablet – the monster laying waste to a city and killing thousands is a projection of Gloria herself.

Where the film goes from there and what it does with the concept is less successful than the set-up because it's actually a great allegory for self-centredness. When a little kid is angry at the world or his/her parents, they'll express it in play, having a toy monster destroy a Lego city, feeling the rumble of every collapsing building and hearing every scream like they were real.

The monster is likewise a projection of Gloria's lack of self control run amuck, running rampant in Seoul when she's tanked to the gills and not caring about anything or anybody until she blacks out. That says something smart and quite relatable.

But it's let down when the script seems unable to decide what to do next. A giant robot which turns up is likewise a projection of Oscar's anger at both his life and Gloria. They can stand in the sandpit of the playground which brings the creatures to life half a world away and fight while the giant robot and monster do the same.

Oscar becomes increasingly bitter and venomous about Gloria and emerges as the antagonist of the film, but there's no real motiviation for him to do so other than the fact that Colossal needs a third act resolution.

Hathaway can perform indie drama standing on her head, but it's another entry in Sudeikis' ouvre that seems more the kind of movie he wantes to make – more Tumbledown or Sleeping With Other People and less Horrible Bosses or We're The Millers.

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