You won't find a more original pitch for a film this year: an alcoholic New Yorker (Anne Hathaway) discovers that she has a psychic connection with a giant monster ravaging downtown Seoul.
Hathaway plays Gloria, who in Colossal's opening moments is dumped by her priggish boyfriend (Dan Stevens) because of her drunken antics. And so she returns to the small East Coast town where she grew up, presumably because it's the only place where she knows she has shelter: her parents' empty house. In no time, she reconnects with a former classmate (Jason Sudeikis), who just happens to own a bar. Sobriety will have to wait.
One day, Gloria awakens to the horrifying news that an enormous reptilian creature, who looks like a second-rate Godzilla enemy, has appeared in Seoul, killing scores of innocents. For reasons teased throughout the course of the film, Gloria then realizes that she herself controls the monster's movements, if she goes to a certain place at a certain time of day.
If you have by now sussed out that this monster is a metaphor for Gloria's destructive alcoholism, give yourself a gold star. And as a movie premise, it's pretty irresistible. But writer/director Vigalondo, who's previously infused sci fi tropes with human folly in Timecrimes and Extraterrestrial, arrives at a point, about midway through the film, where he can't find anything new to do with this premise. And so – and here I'll warn you to stop reading, if you're aching to see Colossal and don't want any of its twists ruined – the script suddenly flips Hathaway's and Sudeikis's characters, lifting the blame off of Gloria's shoulders and turning Sudeikis's bartender into a loathsome bully. Those who have been in alcoholic relationships may vouch for this turn of events, where threats and abuse can create a state of codependency. I've never been there, so I don't know. Regardless, it doesn't make for a fun movie.
Whether it makes Colossal a good movie is going to be up to each viewer. I've seen many rave reviews for it, yet when I left the theater, I noted an older woman calling her friend on the phone, saying, "We just saw Colossal. It was the worst. I mean really, the worst." As for me, I liked it, mainly for the commitment that Vigalondo and his cast put into it. But I won't defend it against its detractors. My main issue is that it's got some story issues. Not just the aforementioned character turnabout, but also a series of act three plot holes, and an inability to make much use out of the supporting cast. (Austin Stowell's character is particularly confusing.)
In short, I think it's an okay film, with some really cool ideas, that could have used a bit more work.