By Rob Stoakes. Speaking as someone who is constantly marketing (go listen to my podcast and buy my debut novel) I can tell you right now that if there was a list of the worst things in the world, marketing would easily be in the top twenty, a space above the Suffolk Strangler and a space below a performance of Mamma Mia cast entirely with acid-spitting hornets.
It is a hideous thing, intruding on your lives, tricking and lying the gullible and vulnerable, and badgering people into buying overpriced products they don’t want. Though did I mention that you should listen to my podcast and buy my debut novel?
But if marketing is in the top twenty, then marketing for film is in the top ten, one space above war crimes and one space below Piers Morgan. Remember when you were excited for trailers? Now, with the advent of YouTube, teasers for the trailers themselves, and more and more trailers following the same pattern, film marketing is now at the point where they’re damaging the films themselves.
Did you know that the Inception noise never actually appears in the film? Or that Suicide Squad was radically changed because of the success of the Bohemian Rhapsody trailer? Or that Sing was written mostly to squeeze certain scenes in for the trailer, rather than the trailer being edited around the film?
I bring all of this up because Colossal has been marketed as a light-hearted quirky crowd-pleasing rom-com. Anne Hathaway moves from the big city and back to her little hometown with her WACKY neighbours to find that, uh-oh, a giant monster is attacking Seoul and is imitating her exact movements. What a WAAACKY set of circumstances! What fun will this WAAAAAAAACKY character have in Seoul with her WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACKY friends and their own WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…
Hundreds of innocent people are dead.
So, spoiler for anyone who’s only seen the trailer, but after about ten minutes you will quickly realise just how bad the marketing for this film is. Light-hearted and crowd-pleasing are not on the menu, sunshine. What is on the menu is a very dour examination of alcoholism, hate and self-destructive behaviour in the guise of a monster movie. Not that this is bad, mind. In fact, Colossal is really good. Just don’t show your mum, especially if it only takes two glasses of white to get her singing.
Much of the film’s quality comes from the two lead performances, Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. It is never fun playing unlikeable protagonists, especially ones that the audience has to sympathise with but, and it’s difficult to give details without spoiling, both bring a lot of depth to their characters and can go through the necessary character arcs without seeming like different people at the end.
The main draw, of course, is the monster, and while the design is not the most exciting, the monster scenes are where the film really jumps to life. There’s a great sense of reality and dread to the reactions that everyone has, especially one shot involving TV news coverage that was impressive for how it captured the horror of a sudden attack.
There are some problems with the film, mind. As natural and well-paced as the script is, it is thunderously unsubtle. Impressive as the monster scenes are, up until a somewhat clever ending they only really serve to scream in big neon letters “SELF-DESTRUCTION HAS A BLAST RADIUS”, and every scene of the characters drinking beer might as well summon thunderclouds and organ music.
Still, Colossal is a much better and much more different film than its own marketing would let on. With natural dialogue, realistic characters and a very strange but riveting tone, it’s very much worth a look, though it’s not as good as my podcast or my debut novel.
Budget: $2 million – Music: Bear McCreary – Length: 109 minutes