Kaiju movies have been popular for decades. The outstanding box office performance of Godzilla vs. Kong is just further proof of how endearing they are. Even the least popular ones are not derided for being bad movies. People seem to dislike them more for not respecting the monsters.
Case in point: 2017’s Colossal. Despite a glowing review from this site, a person would be hard-pressed to find someone who enjoys the movie. This is especially odd since the acting was praised and many found its genre meshing premise unique.
And yet, if you ask the average movie goer who has seen the film what they think of it, most will respond negatively. So why would a movie with a wildly imaginative director and two award winning leads in a popular genre be met with such opposition?
Most of the hate seems to center around the characters of Gloria (Anne Hathaway) and Oscar (Jason Sudekis). The lack of growth or the pair being too one note seemed to be the most common complaints. Audiences just did not seem to like the two.
The story also caught a lot of flack from people. Colossal is not your typical sci fi spectacular with kaiju duking it out in city flattening battles. It is a grounded story about woman struggling with alcoholism. She moves back to her hometown where she confronts demons from her past.
It is a nuanced plot that deals in themes that are not normally found in this type of film. This seems to have been the main source of frustration with Colossal. The unlikable characters are a part of the story being told. We are not so much supposed to cheer for Gloria as to pity her. The final scene is a playful one with an undercurrent of sadness. It is unclear as to whether Gloria can truly change or if she even wants to.
This was lost on audiences that saw Colossal. This is not to say the meaning was over their heads. There is little subtly to what the film is trying to convey. It is more about expectations. No one wanted to see a thoughtful kaiju movie. The acting may be great and the premise may be original, but this does not mean people will flock to see it.
Godzilla vs. Kong further illustrates this point. Light on dialogue, the movie spotlights the battle between its two iconic monsters. The humans are secondary to the battle between the Titans. The message is loud and clear: deep storylines are not wanted in a kaiju movie.
This is a shame since there is room for both types of movies. Just because a motion picture is about two brawling monsters does not mean it has to lack emotional depth. You can make a this type of film and address deep themes. Just don’t be surprised if no one sees it.
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