You need to watch the most inventive sci-fi monster movie on Hulu before it leaves tomorrow
“You are out of control!”
Sci-fi movies often struggle to ground their intricate, larger-than-life stories in real human emotions. Most mainstream science fiction blockbusters can get too caught up in delivering as much VFX-heavy spectacle as possible and lose sight of their characters’ actual stories and arcs (see: The Rise of Skywalker). But even smaller sci-fi movies can make similar mistakes.
That’s why it’s worth celebrating when new sci-fi movies manage to perfectly combine awe-inspiring spectacle with genuinely compelling ideas and relatable emotions. Audiences got to see Denis Villeneuve do just that in 2021 with Dune: Part One (and also in 2016 with Arrival) but he’s not the only filmmaker to pull off this careful balancing act in recent years. Nacho Vigalondo did something similar back in 2017.
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We are, of course, talking about Colossal. The Anne Hathaway-led film is available to stream now on Hulu, but it’s leaving the service very soon (April 5, to be precise). Here’s why Inverse recommends that you check it out before it does.
Colossal follows Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a writer struggling with alcoholism. After her boyfriend breaks up with her and kicks her out of their apartment, she has no choice but to move back to her childhood home. Retreating back to the place where her life began, Gloria rekindles her friendship with a childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), and starts spending her time with him and his friends.
However, Gloria’s life is turned upside down when she discovers that she is sometimes in control of a Godzilla-sized monster in Seoul. Her physical movements in a New Hampshire playground are mirrored by a giant alien in Korea’s capital, where Gloria’s every step levels buildings and puts thousands of lives at risk.
In the wake of her surreal discovery, Gloria is forced to come to terms with the impact her alcoholism has on both herself and others. In case that process wasn’t already painful enough, she also comes to discover that her new “friendships” are not as healthy or positive as she’d originally believed. Where Colossal goes from there is best left unspoiled.
Anchored by a stellar, delightfully messy performance from Anne Hathaway, Colossal starts out as a goofy sci-fi film before gradually turning into a surprisingly raw story about one woman’s struggles with self-worth and addiction. Featuring an out-of-character turn from Jason Sudeikis, one that may come as a surprise to fans who know him best for his work in Ted Lasso, the film manages to deliver some genuinely memorable sci-fi imagery without ever losing sight of the heart at the center of its story.
Written and directed by Spanish filmmaker Vigalondo, Colossal is the rare indie sci-fi film that doesn’t try to accomplish anything beyond its own capabilities. It never feels too small either. Thanks to some clever visual tricks, like showing Gloria’s Seoul-based monster primarily through TV and iPad screens, Colossal manages to fulfill its promise of dancing kaijus and oversized sci-fi action without leaning too hard on visual effects and CGI.
Vigalondo also wisely chooses to frame video footage of Gloria’s kaiju wreaking havoc in Seoul and her moving around her childhood playground within the same shot. By doing so, the director always manages to visually link Gloria with her oversized, monstrous avatar. In other words, he manages to do what all great sci-fi movie directors should: root awe-inspiring visual moments in grounded human emotions.
For all these reasons and more, Colossal received largely positive reviews when it was released in 2017. Five years later, it still stands as one of the most interesting, surprising, and inventive sci-fi films of the 2010s.
Colossal is available to stream on Hulu until April 5.