Part giant-monster movie, part romantic comedy, yet 100 percent original, Colossal marks a welcome return to form for Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo. It’s the most satisfying and innovative film he’s made since his 2007 feature debut, Timecrimes, which fuses a murder mystery with a time-traveling science-fiction tale.
Colossal uses the kaiju genre to explore the addictive and self-destructive behavior of Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a Manhattan party girl who escapes to her childhood suburb after her latest all-night binge proves to be the last straw for her uptight boyfriend (Dan Stevens). She reconnects with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a school friend who’s now the boozing owner of a local dive bar and still harbors a crush on her. Gloria slips back into her old habits and, after one blacked-out night, awakens to the news that a giant reptilian monster has destroyed part of Seoul. How this connects to Gloria and Oscar is best left to the movie to reveal, but it’s only the beginning of a series of unexpected surprises within this highly inventive, genre-mixing film.
While Timecrimes often plays like a Twilight Zone episode writ large, Colossal sometimes feels like an X-Files “creature” episode in which Scully and Mulder’s suppressed emotions manifest as real-life monsters. It’s a wonderful twist on the genre, and a surprisingly touching take on female self-empowerment and overcoming one’s worst addictions.