When it comes to talking about the 2016 film Colossal which includes an Oscar-winning actress in the lead role, I have a quandary on my hands. I'm going to try and prattle my way through this without giving away anything the story holds, because both it, and the delivery of same by the ensemble in the film, is a treat that everyone should experience.
Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Open Windows), the film starts out by showing us the story of Gloria (Anne Hathaway, The Intern), as her boyfriend Tim (Anne Hathaway, Beauty and the Beast) is breaking up with her and throwing her out of the New York apartment they share. She decides to move back home and runs into Oscar (Jason Sudeikis, We're the Millers), a friend from childhood who runs a bar. She works for Oscar at the bar and the pair along with Oscar's friends Garth (Tim Blake Nelson, Lincoln) and Joel (Austin Stowell, Bridge of Spies). She sees on the news the sudden and horrific events unfolding in South Korea, where a large monster is destroying parts of the town, and she discovers her strange connection to this beast.
For the first half of the film, Colossal is a curious and engaging treat, setting up Gloria's past and re-engaging her with her hometown friends much like any other film would, and does them with genuine feeling and a little comedy in their foundation. When Gloria sees Oscar again, the sense of their friendship is honest, and the catching up they do is funny by both. As the monster becomes more and more prevalent, the discoveries Gloria makes and the way in which Vigalondo has her examine them are in an almost Charlie Kaufman-like manner. Things are surreal and unbelievable yet told in a manner of fact fashion. You find yourself on the edge of your seat not because of any sort of suspense, but because the characters and story are charming and original, you want to see what happens next with them.
As the monster is explored and as Oscar plays a part in it, things get weird but they get funny because their exploration of the monster is ours. Gloria and the group want to see what they can do with it in a way that's natural and identifiable for the viewer. Would you want to do X if you had some sort of control over a large beast? I know I would, and that's what happens in Colossal, it's a joy in that self-discovery.
You become so involved in this discovery and want to know what happens that you don't immediately see the turn that the characters make, and their complexity is brilliant. Oscar becomes darker in mood and outlook, and Sudeikis is up to the task with an exceptional performance, perhaps his best work yet with a deep character. Hathaway sees the high bar Sudeikis sets and clears it with ease, with humor, authenticity and emotion. We see her at the end of the film in two moments, one that's touching and strikes a deep chord, like Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips deep. It's that good. The next scene is one for laughs and it's spot on. There's apparently an anti-Hathaway bias by some which is their right, but she delivers a fantastic performance from start to finish.
Like I said before, I think what may be the biggest quandary about Colossal is that there is a take that I have on it that's still with me and I think to support it, you have to see it. So you have to take me on faith on a couple of things I'm about to say. I haven't seen Wonder Woman, but I think that when it comes to Colossal, you have a funny movie that has a sneaky smart message of feminine strength in Gloria that puts you through some highs and lows of raw feeling. It's brilliance is that it neatly tucks this within a blanket of a world that only the Michel Gondrys and Spike Jonzes have successfully realized, and Nacho Vigalondo sets an amazing backdrop for it.
Even if what I just said is babble, and it may very well be, Colossal remains a unique treasure deserved to be seen by scores of people.The Blu-ray:
The AVC encode with which Universal gives Colossal life in Blu-ray form is solid for most of the viewing. In the early scenes when Oscar sees Gloria and helps her load stuff in his car, the grass and asphalt is fairly well detailed and color reproduction is good. Black levels waver a little bit the more the film spends time in Seoul, and the image doesn't have much haloing. It's not all that sharp looking a film, perhaps a deliberate choice, but it generally looked fine on Blu-ray.The Sound:
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround to go with the film, which is also a treat. The monster stomps through Seoul on occasion and the subwoofer resonates with his footsteps through the listening area. But it handles the smaller things well; the bar noise is convincing and immersive, panning throughout the channels as Gloria walks the room. A late scene where Oscar chucks an empty beer bottle follows the bottle sonically from front right to back left. Dialogue requires no adjusting to speak of. It's up to the task of its epic surrealness but conveys the small town moments of fun and strife just as effectively for a really nice soundtrack.Extras:
One deleted scene (4:16) and a digital copy of the film? Boo, boo I say!Final Thoughts:
So Colossal starts as a kinda sorta dark comedy with a monster movie…and one ups itself. It's an involving, amazing cinematic experience, one of the better ones in recent memory. Technically the disc is just about up to the task, but the lack of extras really tamp down my enthusiasm for a blind buy. But even on a barebones edition (ahem, Criterion), it's one of the best films of the year and one that demands you to see it.