Colossal: Facts Even Huge Fans Of The Movie Don't Know – Looper

The year 2016 was amazing for movies, with many interesting things to watch for fans of both blockbusters and indie darlings. Whether it’s a Marvel superhero flick like “Captain America: Civil War” or a smaller buddy comedy like “The Nice Guys,” there was a little something for everybody to check out in the theaters. One of the best examples of this was Nacho Vigalondo’s black comedy film “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway as a woman who shares a personal connection with a massive kaiju monster. The film is a lot of fun, but it’s also an interesting metaphor for how individuals deal with deeper personal issues.
“Colossal” features an impressive cast including Jason Sudeikis, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Stevens, and Austin Stowell as different people in the social and professional circle of a struggling writer named Gloria (Hathaway). When she somehow manifests a colossal monster outside of Seoul, she soon realizes that it follows her commands all the way from New Hampshire when she’s within a specific playground at a specific time.
By using the lens of a sci-fi monster movie, “Colossal” explores the trauma and hardships of its main character by showing an otherworldly way they can manifest. Gloria is a character dealing with alcoholism, abusive relationships, and financial difficulties who is given the ability to control a gigantic reptilian creature that follows her exact movements. While this story gets even more complicated when her toxic friend Oscar (Sudeikis) starts controlling a giant robot through similar means, it develops into a deeply compelling narrative of overcoming childhood trauma. There’s a lot going on in this movie that even people who have seen it might not understand, so read on to learn all the “Colossal” facts that even huge fans of the movie don’t know.

One of the biggest selling points for “Colossal” was its lead, Anne Hathaway. She has become known worldwide as a talented actress with roles in huge films such as “The Princess Diaries,” “Ella Enchanted,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “The Dark Knight Rises” to name a few. Her most critically acclaimed performance, however, was as Fantine in the 2012 musical adaptation of “Les Misérables” for which she won an Academy Award for best supporting actress.
In “Colossal,” Anne Hathaway plays the main character of Gloria as she endures the strange situation of being able to control a kaiju from across the world. What’s really interesting, though, is that apparently Hathaway was pregnant throughout the production of the film. The award-winning actress opened up about this experience to E! In 2017 where she discussed how her pregnancy may have enhanced her performance in unforeseen ways. She said, “I think that my pregnancy may have added a layer to my performance in this one because I was so happy all the time and I just felt this great joy and I love the idea that was who Gloria was.” By imbuing Gloria with an underlaying sense of love, it seems to have definitely added to the triumphant nature of her defeating the abusive relationships in this story.

It’s no surprise that “Colossal” was heavily inspired by the kaiju genre of monster films that became popularized in Japan after the release of the first “Godzilla” film in 1954. Kaiju is the Japanese word for “strange beast” which has become synonymous with any movie that features a gigantic creature stomping around through a human city. While there have been other big budget movies to feature kaiju such as “Cloverfield” and Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” the genre is inextricably linked to the Toho production company.
Toho is responsible for creating the first ever “Godzilla” as well as most of the more than 35 “Godzilla” films produced since then. The Japanese production house also created many other iconic kaiju monsters in the “Godzilla” roster including Mothra, Rodan, Mechagodzilla, and King Ghidorah who often fight each other across the various cityscapes of Japan. Despite this history, Toho felt it was necessary to sue the production of “Colossal” before the competing movie was even released. According to The Guardian, Toho took Voltage Pictures to court over how they described “Colossal” as a fusion between “Lost in Translation” and “Godzilla.” Toho specifically claimed that Hollywood was “brazenly producing, advertising, and selling an unauthorized Godzilla film of their own.” Because of the clear connection to the iconic kaiju, director Nacho Vigalondo agreed to a settlement which changed the film’s setting from Tokyo to Seoul and removed any visual similarities to Godzilla.

In today’s Hollywood, motion capture is one of the most common ways to make computer generated characters look as realistic as possible. Motion capture is a process that requires putting actors into specially designed suits in order to record their physical movements. According to AudioMotion, this process is more or less a form of digital makeup allowing actors to give fully nuanced performances even when they’re playing CG characters. They describe it as “a collaborative process allowing filmmakers to imbue characters with incredible levels of subtlety and naturalism whilst placing no limits on the creativity of the visual appearance.”
While this is incredibly useful for big budget films like “Avatar” or the “Planet of the Apes” franchise where the story focuses on fully animated characters, it is less important for a movie like “Colossal.” Since the story of “Colossal” is primarily focused on Gloria, the small details of her monster’s movements are less important. According to an interview with Nacho Vigalondo, they opted to simply give footage of Anne Hathaway’s real-life movements to their team to make the monster do whatever she did. Apparently, they utilized more portable digital cameras to record every aspect of Hathaway’s movements before sending it to animators to use while creating the monster.

While “Colossal” stars popular American actors such as Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, fans may be surprised to learn that the film was actually a substantial co-production between multiple international companies. “Colossal” is primarily produced by Voltage Pictures, a U.S.-based company also responsible for movies like “The Hurt Locker,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” and “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” Nonetheless, this was only one of the groups who put money forward to make “Colossal” happen.
This film was a collaboration between American, Canadian, Spanish, and South Korean producers to varying degrees of involvement. Birthright Pictures was another major production company who had a stake in the film, and they’re based primarily out of Vancouver, Canada. Additionally, there was heavy involvement from companies such as Route One Entertainment, Union Investment Partners, and Sayaka Producciones. Interestingly, “Colossal” also had backing from Legion M, a company partnered with comedian Seth Green that had a hand in “Mandy” and “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.”

On the surface, “Colossal” seems like it’s just a movie about Anne Hathaway controlling a big lizard monster. That’s definitely what it seems like the story is about at first, but it quickly becomes clear that there are more complex themes that give this seemingly silly sci-fi story more depth. “Colossal” at its core is about a person whose addiction, trauma, and abusive relationships continue to cause her deep emotional grief.
Within this story, the monster metaphor goes beyond just watching a kaiju destroy a city. The themes are centered around how people that are nice on the surface can actually be abusive monsters at heart. “Colossal” reveals this through Oscar, who seems at first to be a well-meaning, totally harmless childhood friend of Gloria. He progresses into the main antagonist role because of his selfishness, abusive behavior, and consistent gaslighting towards Gloria which culminates in a climactic kaiju fight. Critics noted how the movie’s contrast between monster movies and its emotional core works in its favor, with reviewers like Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com singing its praises. He wrote, “This movie feels as if somebody woke from an intense nightmare, decoded it and realized it was rather unsubtly working through some of their unresolved problems, then brought it to Judd Apatow and said, ‘Here’s your next comedy.'”

“Colossal” made waves when it first came out for its interesting premise and deeper meaning, but many people might not realize how talented its director is. This film was both written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, who has proved himself to be a powerful voice in the filmmaking community. Vigalondo is a Spanish filmmaker who has built an impressive filmography over the years in both movies and television.
Nacho Vigalondo came onto the scene in a big way with his first feature film “Los Cronocrímenes” or “Timecrimes,” which focuses on a man who gets caught in a time loop and tries his hardest to deal with the other versions of himself. Some of Vigalondo’s other big projects before “Colossal” include “Extraterrestrial, “Open Windows,” and a segment of “VHS: Viral.” One of the biggest things he’s been involved with in recent years has got to be HBO’s “Our Flag Means Death” series created by David Jenkins and executive produced by Taika Waititi. Vigalondo directed three episodes of the series including “A Damned Man,” “A Gentleman Pirate,” and “Discomfort in a Married State.”

Aside from Anne Hathaway, the other big star of “Colossal” is Jason Sudeikis as the friend-turned-foe companion of the main character. In this movie, he plays the role of a seemingly normal guy who slowly reveals his more sadistic, cruel, and selfish traits as the story goes on. Much like Gloria, Oscar can also control a gigantic creature as long as he’s standing in the same playground; in his case it’s a massive robot mech which ties back into the tragic backstory between the two as children. Because of his atrocious behavior in the film, which includes gaslighting, threats, abuse, and murder by proxy through his robot, he is rightfully punished towards the end by Gloria and her kaiju.
While he’s gotten some unflattering press recently thanks to his messy divorce from Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudeikis has generally been known for playing sarcastic nice guys and well-meaning goofballs throughout his acting career. Sudeikis got his start in the Chicago comedy improv scene doing shows at iO and The Second City before breaking into the industry in a big way by joining “Saturday Night Live” in 2003. From there, his career started to take off with roles in lighthearted comedy romps such as “Sleeping with Other People,” “Horrible Bosses,” and “We’re the Millers.” He’s also had an extremely successful career on television with appearances in legendary comedy shows like “30 Rock,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Portlandia,” and “The Last Man on Earth.” More recently, Jason Sudeikis has found greater fame with his role as Ted Lasso in the Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso,” where he plays an American football coach tasked with leading a British soccer league to victory. In all these cases, Sudeikis mostly plays good-hearted characters which is why his role in “Colossal” is both unexpected and a welcome departure.

“Colossal” went through an interesting journey from script to screen. Due in part to its origins as an international production, the film officially premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9th, 2016, as opposed to a traditional Hollywood premiere that many bigger movies are afforded.
Many stars in the film showed up to the Toronto Film Festival for the premiere and supported their project through their presence. During the red-carpet event for “Colossal,” Anne Hathaway was interviewed by a reporter with ScreenSlam who asked her questions about a variety of topics including working with director Nacho Vigalondo and the strange nature of the film itself. Hathaway said, “I love working with him as a director because he’s so fresh and so free, but he’s also so thorough. I always felt very safe and this is kind of a risky film to make. It’s a lot of out-there ideas, but he always pulled them off.” Despite the sense of risk Anne Hathaway may have felt going in, it seems to have been rewarded by allowing her to participate in a unique piece of filmmaking. 

Part of the reason “Colossal” is still talked about today is the impressive and positive word-of-mouth discussions from its time of release. People seem to really enjoy the movie, resonating with its themes and subversions for these kinds of genre stories. Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis gave universally praised performances as complex and emotionally broken characters who use their newfound monster powers to deal with themselves. “Colossal” proved to be a hit with critics and audiences alike. It currently holds an 81% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes with experts in agreement on the satisfying nature of the story.
“Colossal” gained positive reception with critics who appreciated what the movie was going for, but not everyone completely swooned. One critic who saw the film in Toronto was Steve Macfarlane of Slant, who opined that the story struggles to balance all the tones at play. He wrote, “Audiences who step into Colossal unaware of where Vigalondo is taking them will be nothing if not surprised. But despite, or perhaps because of, these refreshing quirks of character, the film probably assumes more patience from its audience than it can possibly reward.”

By 2016, Anne Hathaway was at an interesting point in her career. She had already been involved in some household-name films like “The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” and she managed to win an Academy Award for her small but powerful performance in “Les Misérables” where she sang her heart out. Yet, her output throughout the late 2010’s was mostly filled with forgettable comedies and her involvement in the universally panned Tim Burton “Alice in Wonderland” films as the White Queen. It should come as no surprise that she was looking for something new during this time to reinvigorate her acting passions.
According to IndieWire, that need for something unique is exactly why the script for “Colossal” appealed so much to Anne Hathaway at the time. Apparently, she even signed on to act in the project well before any other stars were involved, proving how much she genuinely believed it was a worthwhile endeavor. She said, “I would have loved this movie and felt so cool knowing it existed,” and “I did this one for my 16-year-old self.” She also compared the story directly to the 1999 Spike Jonze film “Being John Malkovich,” which apparently is one of her favorites, during the press for the film. While “Colossal” was hardly a hit in the financial sense, it doesn’t seem to have hurt the careers of anybody involved. If anything, it might’ve had the opposite effect. In more recent years, Hathaway gained praise for her involvement in Apple TV+’s “WeCrashed,” as well as the film “Armageddon Time,” and she’s slated to star in an upcoming film based on “Sesame Street.”

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