By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas)
Ingenuity is a characteristic in today’s landscape of filmmaking that is not prevalent as often as it should, at least not in our theaters. Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal is a film that is the personification of ingenuity. Though it is insufficient at times, Colossal is a movie enveloped in creativity. When your film’s narrative revolves around a young unemployed party girl who discovers she is connected to a monster phenomenon going on the other side of the world, you know you’re in for an exciting ride that could be that ever so desired reaction of surprising.
Colossal is an inventive narrative and though it is underwhelming overall, Nacho Vigalondo’s screenplay and direction deliver some superb filmmaking. The screenplay itself plays a lot like a drama mystery instead of the sci-fi/fantasy comedy it was marketed as. The characterization of Anne Hathaway’s character, Gloria, is excellent. She is in-depth utilized almost to her full potential. She’s reflective of so many characteristics that we possess as people, being overly emotional and filled with confusion on why so many people are claiming for us to cease an activity that we love even though it causes us to cause others pain at times. The inception and utilization of the creature is humorous and at times frightening with how it relates to the actual events transpiring. At times though the creature itself is relatively thought-provoking in a way that makes you question perspective of events.
I’m unsure if the intention of Nacho Vigalondo’s script was to metaphorically symbolize the concept of perspective on global atrocities and how easy it is to automatically confront others before reasoning the situation and attempting to understand it. The direction itself can be viewed as simplistic and even monotonous at times, with a very elementary use of the 180 rule and medium shots. At times though it uses the camera as a symbol of perspective with some interesting shot composition and shot placement used almost to symbolize confronting viewpoints. Such as when we learn, as we learn in the trailer, that Gloria is somehow related to the monster and almost administering it. There is a shot where she goes to this playground, the place that causes the creature to materialize out of existence, where the camera lifts above her gaining a bird’s eye view of the location. This camera placement speaks to me as if this is supposed to symbolize that the camera reflects the growth of perspective.
As if when she jumps into this playground she gains a new outlook, in this case a higher one, both emotionally and physically with the monster being a giant of nature. While I may be diving too far into these filmmaking techniques, but as a cinematic lover I can’t help, but in-depth examine this film’s procedures and skills. Colossal begins to impede on itself though when we start to launch into the third act of this one hundred and nine minutes run time, that centralizes around with the thematic ideas presented and reasoning for these events to take place left me dumbfounded. The logic revealed for these developments is cliché at best and never explained completely leaving me disappointed and frustrated as to why this bright idea lead to this rushed climax.
The character that Jason Sudeikis plays though, named Oscar, is presented as a lovable character who begs screen time to show itself to him. He dives into a downward spiral though that is never explained, it is instead presented to us with no reasoning or character interaction that even provides a minuscule amount of logic. Instead Nacho Vigalondo rushes into this completely with Oscar almost turning heel in a professional wrestling manner. This insane idea left me perplexed on if I may be missed something or wasn’t paying attention for a moment but instead it turns out that near the end of this script Nacho Vigalondo’s laziness set in. Furthering its burial of chances of success continues. When certain aspects of the film’s narrative revolving around the difficult topics of alcoholism and grief are never focused on enough, instead he chooses to focus more on a childlike relationship which is bewildering too, say the least.
These topics though would have elevated the film if they were focused on further, but Nacho Vigalondo chooses to divert from that meaningful narrative into a lunacy of complications, these problematic errors keep Colossal from becoming the creative success it was born to be. There are also aspects of the film’s narrative revolving around the difficult topics of alcoholism and grief are never focused on enough. Instead, he chooses to focus more on a childlike relationship which is bewildering, to say the least. These topics though would have elevated the film if they were focused on further, but Nacho Vigalondo chooses to divert from that meaningful narrative into a lunacy of complications.
Colossal is a flawed film that is undesirably unsatisfying, though it serves as a hopeful full-length directorial debut for Nacho Vigalondo. His camera placement is not groundbreaking but at times alluring. The concept is ingenious, and that is something that is praiseworthy in itself, serving as a cherished aspect of filmmaking that we desire for the future to look riveting or at the least compelling.
Tim: You are out of control.
Tim: I’ve packed your things, they’re in the bedroom.
Gloria: I just watched the news and I think I’m in shock. A giant monster just materialized over Seoul.
Tim: That happened like nine hours ago, and you’re just hearing about this. What have you been doing all day?