In our current epidemic of new movie trailers give away far too much information about the films they’re promoting, the occasional misleading preview is a balm for prospective viewers.
Most recently, the months-long campaign for Matthew McConaughey’s Gold proved a reasonably accurate assessment of what made it to theaters in late January, but featured imagery and bits of dialogue that hinted at content absent from the final cut, thereby yielding several pleasant surprises.
Similarly, though Colossal isn’t guilty of falsifying its quirky, creative side, it certainly steers clear of the more depressing elements that dominate its second half.
The lighter moments are on full display in Part One, in which unemployed, party-loving blogger Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is evicted from the glamorous New York apartment she shares with slightly more motivated boyfriend Tim (some guy named Dan Stevens).
Gloria’s childhood home in an unnamed small town is being rented out by her parents and currently vacant, so she crashes there, soon crosses paths with old acquaintance Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) and becomes a regular at his bar with fellow tagalongs Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) and Joel (Austin Stowell).
Sticking to her hard-drinking ways, Gloria stumbles home one morning and awakes that afternoon to discover that a giant monster terrorized Seoul, South Korea, hours earlier. As she studies the news footage – terrifically executed by the film’s effects team – and notes the creature’s odd tics, she’s hit with the fact that she’s somehow in control of this beast halfway around the world and rushes to tell her new friends.
Why and how the two entities are connected deserve to be uncovered on one’s own, and in providing answers writer/director Nacho Vigalondo is blessedly ambiguous regarding precisely what forged the bond.
Not nearly as deft is Colossal’s sudden shift to all-encompassing bleakness as Gloria basically wakes up another day to Oscar being a drunk jerk and blackmailing her into doing his bidding. While Sudeikis gives arguably the best performance of his spotty career in service to the part, there’s no pleasure to be had in watching Oscar lord over Gloria and rip into Garth and Joel for flimsily-established reasons.
The other benefit to his loathsome behavior is that it sets Oscar up as an unforgivable villain, which Vigalondo then funnels into a scenario that allows the film to ultimately redeem itself with a fantastic climax. Whether or not the payoff is worth the journey there, however, will depend on the viewer.
Grade: B-minus. Rated R. Now playing at the Fine Arts Theatre
(Photo: Voltage Pictures)