Imagine you woke up one morning and you were Godzilla. You’d still be you — same friends, same job, same problems — only now, once a day, your frustrations would be unleashed on the unfortunate populace of Japan. That’s the premise of Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal (except it’s definitely not Godzilla, nor even in Japan, for finicky legal reasons), in which Anne Hathaway’s Gloria finds herself mysteriously controlling a kaijū wreaking havoc upon South Korea.
That premise makes for an incredibly unconventional monster movie. But even more so than you’d expect! Sure, there aren’t too many monster movies that could be accurately likened to a Joe Swanberg indie movie; there are more scenes here of Gloria hanging at a bar owned by her old friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) than of behemoths tearing down skyscrapers.
What sets Colossal apart is how it takes a conceit that could’ve easily made for a power fantasy and twists it into a disempowerment story, with Gloria’s newfound abilities proving a terrible liability. The film’s blackly comedic tone — it’s not a “comedy”, whatever you’ve heard, though it is funny — sours as it transforms into a dark allegory of abuse, alcoholism and misogyny.