[Screen It]


(2017) (Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis) (R)

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Sci-Fi: An alcoholic woman discovers that her behavior in America is somehow fueling the actions of a towering monster in Seoul, South Korea.
Gloria (ANNE HATHAWAY) was previously a writer for an online publication but she hasn't worked in over a year, the likely result of her drinking problems that have pushed her live-in boyfriend, Tim (DAN STEVENS), to the point that he's now kicked her out of his New York apartment. With nowhere else to go, she returns to her childhood hometown and takes up residence in her parents' empty house. It's not long after that when she runs into her former elementary school classmate, Oscar (JASON SUDEIKIS), who runs a local bar and ends up giving her a job there as a waitress. The two become drinking buddies, joined by Oscar's friends Garth (TIM BLAKE NELSON) and Joel (AUSTIN STOWELL).

During that, however, strange things start happening half-way around the world in Seoul, South Korea where a towering monster has begun materializing out of nowhere and damaging parts of the city and injuring residents before disappearing. As shocking as that is, Gloria is more disturbed by the fact that it appears this monster has the exact same mannerisms as her, all of which leads to her discovering that her behavior in a local park at a specific time of day is actually the cause of the monster's appearance and destructive behavior. While trying to wrap her head around that, she must also contend with her new friends' reaction to that, as well as Tim seemingly wanting to get back together with her.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
As I've stated in previous reviews, the first film that I specifically wanted to see in theaters was "Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster" and the second was likely "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad." I was certainly enthralled by the original "King Kong" on TV, my favorite episode of "Lost in Space" was one of the original ones featuring the gargantuan cyclops and I pretty much gravitated toward any such flick or show that featured huge monsters.

You could say I'm primed for any sort of monster movie as it's in my cinematic DNA. Thus, when any such new flick comes out, that obviously piques my interest. Such would seem to be the case with "Colossal," a new monster pic from writer/director Nacho Vigalondo where a Godzilla-sized creature wreaks havoc on Seoul, South Korea (giving, I guess, Japan a movie break).

But this isn't any normal monster, mind you, but rather one that's mysteriously connected back to a young and troubled alcoholic in the states whose actions somehow fuel the beast's behavior that mirrors the woman's. No, that certainly doesn't sound like your typical monster movie (especially in today's age of big budget blockbusters that often times take themselves too seriously) and things get even weirder when a huge robot shows up, operating in something of the same fashion.

Holy "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla," Batman! And poor Seoul, not only must the city contend with a lunatic leader to the north with an itchy trigger finger, but now also two big beasts that end up accidentally and then intentionally damaging the city. When asked by the studio rep what I thought of the film while walking out of the theater, I replied, "Well, it's different..." to which she followed-up, "Good different or bad different?"

Well, it's sort of both. It's certainly an interesting premise that sort of puts a spin on part of the plot of the old sci-fi classic, "Forbidden Planet." In that film, the crew is besieged by an invisible monster that turns out to be generated by the subconscious mind of one of the members, which is a pretty nifty idea. Here, it's not quite as cool, but nonetheless still manages to be interesting even if it's never satisfactorily explained or fully explored.

The flick centers on our alcoholic protagonist (a solid Anne Hathaway) who's kicked out the apartment owned by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) after he tires of her drinking-related behavior. She returns to her hometown, takes up residence in her parents' now empty house, and meets and takes a waitressing job from her former elementary school classmate turned bar owner (Jason Sudeikis). They become drinking buddies along with his pals (played by Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell) and are only briefly distracted by breaking news of a monster's sudden appearance and destructive behavior in the land of Samsung.

Of course, in a serious film (and real life) such an occurrence would take center stage until the creature was killed and any potential for its siblings, friends, and others of its ilk to follow in its footsteps was completely removed. And it's not like the new quartet of friends is too blasted to pay much heed to the development. But drinking is certainly related, at least in terms of metaphors mysteriously played out half-way around the world.

You see, the monster (and later robot) is symbolic of the destructive nature of alcoholism and, later, abusive relationships. When Gloria drunkenly stumbles through a small playground on the way home from a night of drinking, that somehow triggers the monster's appearance, and she soon realizes it's been aping her mannerisms (to the point that she tests this in real-time and is astonished to see that it's true).

Of course, her former classmate turned boss turned drunken, abusive jerk witnesses that and decides to give it a go himself, with similar results. And he then uses that power and potential for harm and death elsewhere to blackmail her into continuing to work with him and not leave when her ex-boyfriend comes calling with a desire to give her a second chance.

What's present sort of works, and while there's plenty of potential here, I just wish it played out in a more entertaining, engaging or interesting fashion. I clearly get the symbolism and metaphors (they're hard to miss), but the film's tone is sort of all over the place, and that wishy-washy approach doesn't do it any favors. At times, it's quite goofy and doesn't attempt to be realistic (even within its own far-out parameters), and then segues into some ugly abuse and bullying.

I'm not sure if a couple of rewrites could have ironed out the tonal theme to make such transitions smoother or perhaps simply had the flick go one direction or the other in general. Maybe as a movie monster aficionado, I was expecting too much, something that didn't apply when my 7-year-old self enjoyed the heck out of the fire-breathing lizard taking on the early '70s bad environment spawned smog monster. Like that one, this one has a social message. I just wish the accompanying movie were better. "Colossal" rates as just a 5 out of 10.

Reviewed March 31, 2017/ Posted April 14, 2017

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