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Film / Colossal

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Colossal is an American-Canadian-Spanish Kaiju Sci-Fi Action-Thriller Comedy film directed and written by Nacho Vigalondo. It premiered on September 9, 2016 during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and received a formal release on April 7, 2017.

Meet Gloria (Anne Hathaway). She is not having a good time. She lost her job, which made her lose her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens). Hoping to make a fresh start, she moves back to her hometown. When she gets there, she meets up with her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis).

One day, however, the news on the TV start talking about a giant monster going on a colossal rampage over in Seoul. Needless to say, that's terrifingly bizarre in of itself, but then Gloria discovers something really weird about the monster: Whatever movements she herself makes, the monster repeats.


Watch the trailer here.

This film contains examples of these tropes:

  • Addled Addict: Gloria starts out as a childish, selfish, irresponsible, and destructive drunk who either doesn't know or doesn't care about the effect that her out-of-control drinking has on those around her.
  • The Alcoholic: Gloria and Oscar, and to a lesser extent Garth and Joel.
  • Always Someone Better: It's implied through his stories about the short story contests in Elementary School that this is how Oscar feels about Gloria. It's a lot more than just implied in the second half of the movie.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Joel. He's very taciturn, a little awkward, very poor at reading social cues, somewhat blunt and unaware in general.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The giant monster's rampage in Seoul is what sets up the main conflict.
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  • Ax-Crazy: Oscar eventually spirals into this as the film goes on, but even then it's clear right from the start that he's deeply unhinged.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Oscar seems like a decent small-town sort at first, but quickly reveals himself to be an extremely petty, jealous man. He eventually discovers he has a monster of his own, and embraces its destructive potential for the infamy it gathers.
  • Bond Creatures: Inverted. The monster copies the physical movements Gloria makes.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gloria. The poor lady loses her job, which makes her boyfriend dump her, and now she finds out that she's the literal puppetmaster of a giant monster, who really only mimics her when she's wandering, initially drunk, through the playground near her house at a very specific time. And then Oscar uses this to manipulate and torment her.
  • The Bully: What Oscar really was to Gloria as a child, and what he still is to Joel. With Gloria's return, he at first hides this until he's got some power over her, then goes right back to it.
  • Character Tic: Gloria scratching the top of her head. It's because the incident that created her monster made her bleed from there.
  • Childhood Friend: Gloria and Oscar are this to each other. Or so she thinks; it turns out that he was actually a rather cruel child, but her poor memory of her childhood has caused her to see him as this instead.
  • Dirty Coward: Oscar's arrogant bullying and confidence disappears when Gloria finally stands up to him in the finale, turning him into a pleading wreck.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Kaiju's rampages basically serve as a visual metaphor showcasing how Gloria's addiction isn't just ruining her life, but it's also hurting the lives of everyone around her. Similarly, the story and revelations about Oscar are direct parallels to the dynamic of an abusive relationship.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Garth, in spite of being a rather spacey former addict, has a couple.
    • He makes the brilliant deduction early on that the monster is being controlled remotely because it doesn't seem cognizant of its surroundings — it walks through buildings rather than around them, reacts to stimuli that isn't present and ignores things that are, all while never looking downward at the city at its feet, exactly like a human wandering around with nothing in their way would. Nobody else at the bar takes him seriously, but it disturbs Gloria, who's already all but certain she's the creature.
    • After Gloria writes an apology in Korean on the beach, Garth immediately catches on that using the exact same phrase that Oscar asked the convenience store owner to translate could very likely tip him off about their involvement. Oscar defends it by saying that he provided other phrases, too, but Garth thinks that his stated reason ("tattoo ideas") is a terrible alibi.
  • Dwindling Party: The bar crew decreases as the movie progresses, although it's less because of anyone's death and more because everyone is getting increasingly angry and uncomfortable around Oscar.
  • Entitled to Have You: Oscar turns out to view himself as being entitled towards Gloria's affections and love, and reacts badly when he doesn't get them.
  • Everytown, America: Gloria's hometown is this, in stark contrast to her life in New York City.
  • Evil All Along: Even as a child, Oscar displayed destructive habits.
  • Extreme Doormat:
    • Joel passively goes along with Oscar and never actively attempts to stop him in spite of his reluctance.
    • Much of Oscar's later abuse is directed at turning Gloria into this. When he realizes he can bully her into staying under his thumb by having his monster cause destruction, he begins to take advantage of it, treating her like a slave and belittling her in front of her ex, all just to humiliate her. Fortunately, Gloria's able to figure out a way out of it.
  • Forced to Watch: After their second fight, Oscar kicks Gloria so hard she's left reeling on the ground, in too much pain to get up, then proceeds to strut around the park right in front of her, them both knowing the destruction and death he was causing while she's unable to do anything to stop it. Adding to matters, it's not clear if she was in 'the zone' during this, but if she was, then the people of Seoul would have seen her monster lying on the ground, unable to protect them, making the attack even more terrifying from their perspective.
  • Foreshadowing: Tons.
    • Gloria notes that Oscar didn't introduce his "cute" friend Joel to her. It's later confirmed that Oscar really does have designs on Gloria and is protective of them against Joel's interference.
    • How Oscar brings up promises that Gloria made to him while she was supposedly too drunk to remember.
    • Oscar bringing up how Gloria would always win the short story contests they entered as kids and specifically mentioning how that meant she had beaten him.
    • Oscar becomes enraged when Joel tries to kiss Gloria and threatens to beat him up "again," hinting both at his claim of ownership over Gloria and bullying relationship with Joel.
    • Oscar poking fun at his friends and ribbing them for their faults. It becomes a lot less friendly later on.
    • Oscar giving Gloria nice things and giving her more reasons to stay in town. This later goes completely overboard and she realizes it's not just him being 'helpful'.
    • Despite being supposed close childhood friends, Gloria doesn't remember much at all about Oscar, having forgotten about his mother's passing and inferring they were only really friends in elementary school. It makes it clear her memory problems aren't just an alcohol issue, but also that her and Oscar weren't actually the childhood friends she thinks they were.
    • When Garth jokes about getting an apology tattoo for yourself, Oscar immediately asks why you would apologize to yourself, giving the audience the first glimpse of his unrepentant nature.
    • When Oscar mentions his ex getting bored really quick when he was ready to marry her, along with taking her baby son away with her. Given the revelations later, it's more than likely she left Oscar to protect her son.
    • When Gloria visits Oscar's house at one point, the camera pauses on a photo of Oscar's ex-girlfriend with her face scratched out. The house is also very unkempt, with stacks of dirty dishes and piles of trash in the corner.
  • Forgetful Jones: Gloria has very poor memory, both regularly forgetting conversations she's had with people, and also forgetting things from her childhood and teenage years, like the fact she attended Oscar's mother's funeral. At first it seems to just be because of the alcohol, but it's implied the actual cause might be the childhood incident that resulted in her ability to manifest a monster. This is Played for Drama as her weak memory is something that Oscar takes advantage of to manipulate her with, and we eventually find out that Oscar wasn't her friend in school, he was her bully, and it's likely he was abusive towards her in the past and she's simply forgotten it.
  • From Bad to Worse: When you consider what's going on with Gloria, the phrase "it's one of those days" really starts to look like an Understatement, doesn't it?
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Oscar, in almost every sense of the phrase.
  • Genre Shift: From small-town romantic comedy with a sci-fi twist to psychological stalker thriller.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Almost literally. Oscar's jealousy at Gloria's monster's fame increases his pettiness and obsession with controlling her. It's implied that his decision to shrink the bar and his compulsive hoarding is to help him forget just how little he has compared to others.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Gloria hits most of them during her first physical altercation with Oscar.
    • He returns the favor in the second fight, hitting her so hard she's left completely unable to get back up.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Gloria drinks to blackout levels. It has cost her a boyfriend and leads to several defining character moments.
  • Has a Type: No one remarks upon it, but Tim and Oscar have very similar hair and beard styles. They also have similiarly controlling tendencies toward Gloria, though to different extents.
  • Hate Sink: Oscar. There's nothing likable about the guy, he's just a violent asshole and a pathetic loser who's fed up with himself. Not even his backstory as a school bully gives him anything that can be considered redeemable. Jason Sudeikis is charming enough, though, that you can see why people might not immediately pick up on all the red flags.
  • Hollywood Economics: Gloria is broke, after a year out of work, yet has enough for certain supplies, phone service, and a plane ticket, but is broke enough to scrimp on food.
  • Humongous Mecha: The giant robot that causes destruction in Seoul. It also serves as Oscar's monster avatar.
  • Idiot Ball: Oscar antagonizing Gloria while her monster is holding him in her grasp. Maybe he knows that the monster itself can't hear him, but it still isn't the wisest move.
  • Improvised Weapon: Gloria and Oscar use a variety on each other, including various pieces of furniture and appliances around Gloria's house.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Gloria states that Joel is attractive when noting that Oscar suspiciously neglected to introduce him to her.
  • Jerkass: Oscar seems like a Nice Guy at first, helping Gloria out by buying her furniture for her place and giving her a job at his bar. But once he discovers his own monster, he revels in the sudden power it gives him—over the world, and over Gloria. He's a textbook abuser, giving her extravagant gifts, complaining about his ex to her, attempting to tie her closer to him, flying into jealous rages, violence, a 'honeymoon period' full of recriminations and more gifts, hurting her directly and threatening others if she doesn't comply.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Gloria starts the movie as an alcoholic unwilling or uncaring enough to make a meaningful change in her life and ends up killing hundreds of people, after knowing she could do so, in her drunken antics. She, however, considers this her greatest failure, takes steps to avoid doing it again and, later, does all her best to stop Oscar.
    • Tim, who's portrayed as a flawed person whose heart is nonetheless in the right place. He does kick Gloria out (but after waiting for her to change for a year) and later becomes judgmental of her new choices (ostensibly because he's seen her do better as a professional writer, though it's suggested he has some controlling tendencies of his own). And, despite everything, he still cares about her enough to try to get her to get away from Oscar. At the heart of it, he's not a bad dude, so much as one who is utterly frustrated with Gloria's mess of a life and can't help but lecture and complain about it.
  • Kaiju: The monster itself is based on them. It looks just like a toy Gloria had as a child, but it seems like that's not part of any in-universe property.
  • Karmic Death: After spending all his time tormenting and controlling Gloria and making sure he gets his way, Oscar is killed by Gloria using her monster to pick him up and then throwing him away at high speed.
  • Kick the Dog: Once Oscar realizes he can do whatever he wants to her so long as he keeps threatening to destroy Seoul, his abuse towards Gloria isn't just controlling, it's degrading. He assigns her intentionally difficult work at the bar as a means of punishing her, orders her around like a slave, and does so in front of her ex-boyfriend Tim in order to demean her in front of him. He also tries to bully her into drinking, knowing full-well she's trying to quit, and sets off a highly explosive firework in the bar, something he describes as 'the most irresponsible thing you can do', solely to humiliate her further in front of Tim. He eventually evolves to literally kicking, when he kicks her so hard in the crotch she's unable to stand, just so he can make her watch him destroy Seoul.
  • Lean and Mean: The monster is really skinny compared to classic kaiju like Godzilla.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Even changing Gloria and Oscar so that they have creatures to control.
  • Magic Realism: The film has shades of this, especially since the catalyst for the film's supernatural elements turns out to be a random lightning strike.
  • Meaningful Name: Seoul is consistently pronounced "soul" and its strange connection with Gloria is the a key plot point. It's only by going to Seoul and facing the place that she's caused the most damage that Gloria can overcome Oscar and really move forward with her life.
  • Mood Whiplash: The scene where Gloria shows the guys that she can control the monster starts of humorous as she has the monster dance and blow kisses. Even when the Korean military starts firing missles on her, it still plays very much like a joke, until a helicopter smashes into her head and makes her realize she probably just killed the pilot. After that, the scene gets a panicked tone as Gloria desperately tries to leave the playground without hurting anybody else, but trips and accidentally kills a bunch of people when the monster falls on them, all of which played as the tragic mistake that it is. Appropriately this marks the shift in the movie's tone from monster comedy to psychological thriller.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After realizing the damage that she is causing, Gloria remorsefully writes an apology into the dirt of the playground. She then makes an effort to avoid both the playground and drinking, but Oscar's increasing obsession with her gradually complicates things.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The film was marketed as a silly comedy that plays the monster angle entirely for laughs, but as soon as Gloria accidentally kills hundreds of people by falling while controlling the monster, the film shifts towards progressively darker comedy before practically becoming a psychological thriller by the third act, which the trailers don't even hint at.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Joel, Oscar's friend who takes a romantic interest in Gloria. He's a quiet and good-natured guy who stands in strong contrast to most of the other men in the film. But he seems to have a critical inability to handle conflict, so he ducks out of the film as it heats up.
    • Oscar appears to be this at first; he's friendly and welcoming to Gloria, even giving her a part-time job at his bar to help her. But he quickly turns out to be a massive subversion.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The kaiju is just the uncontrolled superpower of a woman who is so absurdly drunk enough of the time that she wanders into the wrong place at the wrong time. Later, we learn it looks exactly like a toy monster she used to have that somehow became real after a lightning strike.
  • No Romantic Resolution: The only real resolution is that Gloria doesn't get with Oscar, being dead at Gloria's hands no doubt helps. Otherwise, she ultimately hangs up on Tim in Seoul, which implies that she is ending things with him, but nothing is stated explicitly. And we see Joel watching the proceedings in Seoul and smiling when he sees Gloria has won over Oscar, but it's not stated if he plans to try to see her again after essentially ditching her to deal with Oscar.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Oscar. He's essentially an overgrown child prone to temper tantrums and bullying at not getting what he wants.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Once Gloria stops using weapons or her surrounding to fight Oscar and goes for a fistfight, she does about as well as can be expected from an untrained woman fighting a much larger man.
  • Recovered Addict: Garth claims not to have snorted anything in years. It's ambiguous whether or not he's telling the truth.
  • Running Gag: Gloria repeatedly falls asleep on a hard surface and wakes up in pain. Even when she falls asleep on her air mattress, it deflates before she wakes up, leaving to wake up on basically the floor.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Gloria's kaiju is simultaneously bestial and sapient-looking, a reflection of how her drunken, irresponsible behavior hurts the people around her, yet can be overcome if she cares enough to think about the consequences of her actions. Oscar's kaiju — a towering robot with a violent, red-eyed battle mode, whose design initially seems non-threatening but has a face uncannily like a skull — mirrors the sociopathic, controlling nature and abusive temper that he hides behind a passive-aggressive "friendly" demeanor.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: As Gloria regains more of her childhood memories, it turns out that Oscar had actually been The Bully towards her as a child, destroying her diorama of Korea in front of her, something that her reaction indicates wasn't shocking behavior for him. Combined with how he treats Joel, it's apparent he's always been a bully, and her monster's existence is a manifestation of her need to finally stand up to him.
  • The Sociopath: Oscar reveals himself to be this as time goes on. He's incapable of accepting responsibility and has no remorse for any of the awful things he does. When he later learns he has his own monster, he goes on a power trip with it and happily uses it to terrorize Seoul just to force Gloria to stay with him.
  • String Theory: Gloria does a neat little one to figure out how the monster's movements correspond to which physical locations in her neighborhood, allowing her to limit its rampage and even transport it to the US by going to Korea herself.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: In-universe, the footage of Gloria's monster slapping Oscar's robot becomes not just a viral hit but a meme template. One video is shown with a stutter-repeat, freeze-frame, and explosion over the hit, and the monster gaining a pair of sunglasses, a gold chain, and a lit blunt in its mouth as Naughty By Nature's "Uptown Anthem" starts playing.
  • Trash of the Titans: At one point, Gloria visits Oscar's home, which she discovers to be incredibly unkempt and cluttered with stacks of dirty dishes, piles of trash and all kinds of junk and misplaced furniture.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Oscar starts out doing nice things for Gloria, like giving her furniture and offering her a job, and he always claims she drunkenly asked for them the previous night. This seems plausible enough, given Gloria's alcoholism, until it's slowly revealed that Oscar is a self-absorbed, manipulative, stalking sociopath. This reveal makes it far more likely that Oscar has been lying to Gloria about her asking for help the whole time, while slowly worming his way into her life so that he can exert total control over her.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Oscar, as the film goes on, keeps getting slightly unhinged as things don't go the way he wants. It gets to a point when he goes on his final rampage, he doesn't feel satisfaction. Only pure rage and resentment at the world. All his bravado pretty much evaporates when Gloria's monster comes for him and ends his life.
  • Villains Want Mercy: Oscar. It's probably a good thing Gloria can't hear him, as he eventually gives up on begging and goes back to barking orders at her.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: The more obvious example is Gloria's black-out stumblings through the park. A more sinister, but more mundane, example would be Oscar's habit of holding Gloria to promises she allegedly made while drunk as a way of gradually undermining her own agency.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Garth disappears from the movie midway through. Oscar accuses him of being a coke addict, in the midst of other drunken dickhead behavior, so Garth quits Oscar's bar and ceases to be plot-relevant.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The first time Gloria attacks Oscar to stop his monster self he acts like he wouldn't. When he comes back later to punish her though, he attacks her with fists and weapons.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Oscar's monster robot nearly crushes a child, and is implied to have killed many more.