Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell
Released: 19th May 2017 (UK)
Reviewer: Van Connor
: Horror helmer Nacho Vigalondo returns for this unlikely but startlingly engaging fusion of Drinking Buddies and Pacific Rim. Colossal – perfectly timed in the wake of ‘Rim, Godzilla, and Kong: Skull Island – sees wayward party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway) return in disgrace to her small-town home, only to discover her drunken antics are being replicated to the letter by a skyscraper-sized kaiju that appears simultaneously in South Korea. On paper – and, indeed, for a good chunk of its running time – it’s a bonkers concept that could so easily go careening off the rails, yet with a cast who very much understand the nuances of the material, some carefully balanced writing, and a considered eye behind it all, Colossal lives up to its title in just about every sense.
Hathaway – arguably interchangeable in the role with someone like, say, Anna Kendrick – makes for a likeable lead, her chemistry with co-star Jason Sudeikis an easy and almost comforting win. Sudeikis is the real stand-out however, jumping on every opportunity afforded him by Vigalondo to not so much break with his loveable slacker persona as enhance it with a foray into genuinely untapped terrain. Austin Stowell may be somewhat under-utilised – and certainly underwritten – as Hathaway’s would-be love interest meanwhile, but with the majority of his scenes effortlessly stolen by the charming tour-de-force that is Tim Blake Nelson, such a criticism is academic at best.
Where Colossal succeeds most is undoubtedly in its screenplay, with Vigalondo crafting a sublimely rich screenplay that works just as well with the quirky indie dramedy as it does a character-based kaiju tale. It drags its feet for perhaps a tad too long with getting Sudeikis to where he inevitably needs to be, but it’s a sincere and surprisingly dark ride nonetheless – one you’ll enjoy the heck out of whether Godzilla’s your bag or not. Frankly, if outmoded audience stereotyping is your thing, Vigalondo – with his masterful genre-concoction – may be the unlikely purveyor of the world’s most perfectly crafted date movie. That he even finds time then to reinforce Dan Stevens’ emergence as this century’s Cary Elwes is an almost comical case of happenstance.
With lofty ambitions given very grounded characterisation, Colossal’s got both the physical and interpersonal heft to more than please. Unafraid to go dark – and then go really dark – when needed, it’s a ballsy blockbuster stuffed into an indie-friendly package and decorated by a visual palette that ranges beautifully from the quaint to the jaw-droopingly awesome. It’s a wild night at the movies, and yet mortifyingly grim when it needs to be. Proof positive that it’s creator is simply crying out for the sort of big budget extravaganza that will make him the Next Big ThingTM (good god, imagine what he could do with a Star Wars spin-off…), Colossal’s hands-down one of the year’s best – its title a damn fine indicator of the sort of experience you’re in for.