After moving back to her home town, a woman finds out that she is somehow connected to a giant monster… That is the main premise of the film Colossal (2016).
Directed by Nacho Vidalongo, Colossal (2016) is a sci-fi comedy starring Anne Hathaway as Gloria and Jason Sudeikis as Oscar.
This post includes a brief plot summary and an explanation about the ending of the film “Colossal” (2016). What is the point of “Colossal”? Beware of spoilers.
Colossal (2016) – Plot Summary
Gloria writes for a living. She lives with her boyfriend Tim, but he has recently kicked her out from their apartment due to her reckless lifestyle. The writer is currently struggling with a drinking problem. Unemployed and homeless, Gloria finds herself without any other options but to move back to her home town.
Back at her family home, Gloria runs into Oscar, a childhood friend who helps her settle in. He offers Gloria a job at his bar and she accepts. At her new workplace, Gloria meets Oscars’ friends: Garth and Joel. After work, she and the men often indulge in heavy drinking. Gloria’s addiction to alcohol often causes her to pass out and forget the events prior.
Meanwhile, there is a monster running the streets of Seoul, who often leaves a trail of destruction behind. It comes and goes with no apparent reason. After some time, Gloria realizes that there is a connection between the monster and she. The monster appears in Seoul, whenever Gloria steps into the local playground at 8:05 am.
Gloria decides to share this information with Oscar and his friends. She proves her theory by dancing in the local playground. Seoul’s authorities are putting their best efforts to fight the monster. Each attack has a direct impact in Gloria. As a reflex, she destroys anyone and anything targeting her. Shortly after, Gloria regrets her actions and issues to a public apology in Korean. As a preventative measure, Gloria cuts her drinking and avoids the playground.
Another set of problems arise, when Gloria and Joel decide to spend a night together. This deeply upsets Oscar and he decides to take out his anger on Seoul (as a giant robot). After lashing out on Gloria and his friends, Oscar apologizes for his poor behaviour.
Shortly after, Oscar acts up again with Tim’s arrival. Gloria’s boyfriend is trying to persuade her to return but she refuses. Later that night, Oscar goes to Gloria’s house to stop her from leaving with Tim.
During a flashback, Gloria recalls an unpleasant memory. On their way to school, Oscar and Gloria were carrying their respective paper dioramas. However, the heavy wind on that day blew Gloria’s away and Oscar went to retrieve it. Once he realized that Gloria’s project was better than his, he smashed it to pieces.
Oscar and Gloria continue their fight in the playground. Despite of her efforts, Oscar overpowers Gloria and destroys part of Seoul. Then, he threatens Gloria: whenever she is away, he’ll continue to decimate the city.
After breaking up with Tim, Gloria flies to Seoul. At 8:05 am, Oscars steps into the local playground to terrorize Seoul. Meanwhile, Gloria walks the streets of Seoul. Her monster appears right in front of Oscar and throws him far away. Shortly after, the robot in Seoul disappears too.
The final scene shows Gloria walking into a bar and asking the bartender if she wants to a hear story. After saying yes, she offers the writer a drink. Gloria sighs and the film ends…
Colossal (2016) – Ending Explained
First of all, Colossal is a very unique film. On the surface, it seems to be about giant creatures wandering the streets of Seoul. However, there is more to it than meets the eye.
So, what’s the point of Colossal? There are mainly two ways to look at the film: as a pure sci-fi story or as a metaphor.
Colossal as a pure sci-fi film…
So, if one decides to take Colossal at face value, all the “magic” happens at the local playground. Why that particular place? It’s where it all started.
Gloria’s monster started to manifest in the streets of Seoul, when she saw Oscar destroying her school project (a paper diorama of Seoul). Years later, the city built a playground over that same place.
Following the “logic” of the film, whatever happens in that playground at 8.05 am will have an impact in Seoul and vice-versa. Both the monster and the robot are avatars of Oscar and Gloria’s respective childhood toys.
Since Gloria cannot beat Oscar in the real world, she has to use “magic” against him. Therefore, she flies to Seoul so her avatar can appear in the local playground. The monster finds Oscar and flings him far away. In the end, it’s safe to assume that Oscar is dead, as his avatar (the giant robot) slowly fades away in Seoul.
Colossal as a metaphor…
Now, let’s imagine that none of that happened. The monsters are not real, well at least not the way they are portrayed in the film.
If one replaces the monsters for problems such as addiction and toxic relationships, it will actually make a lot of sense.
In many ways, Gloria’s monster is like a representation of her addiction. The monster usually appears, after every heavy drinking session, leaving a trail of havoc behind.
Unlike Oscar, Gloria is not intentionally out there to cause trouble. As a matter of fact, when she realized the repercussions of her heavy drinking, she tried to control her addiction.
When Gloria’s monster flings Oscar far away that is she setting boundaries for herself and others. At this point, Gloria knows that she needs to face her addiction and the “bad” people that she attracts into her life.
In this story, Oscar is actually a very toxic person. He was was never a true friend of Gloria’s. The man just hates seeing others doing something for themselves instead of living a stagnant life like him.
Last but not least, the ending scene. After winning the “fight”, Gloria walks into a bar, sits down and asks the bartender if she wants to hear a story. The woman says yes and asks Gloria if she wants to have a drink. Before the writer answers, the film cuts to the ending credits.
So, is Gloria going to take that drink? What is the meaning behind the ending of Colossal? Addiction does not simply go away, just because a person has decided to do something about it. It’s sort of a constant inner battle of wills. Therefore, even if Gloria says “no” this time, there will be other occasions, where she’ll have to face the same dilemma.
The real question is: will Gloria be consistent with her “noes” or will she fall back to her old ways?
ADD TO YOUR COLLECTION
Colossal (2016) [Blu-ray]
As I mentioned before, Colossal is a very peculiar film. As a viewer, I believe that Colossal as a metaphor for addiction and toxic people is way more interesting than Colossal as a pure sci-fi / fantasy film.
Rewatching the whole story at an older age, made me realize that Oscar is indeed a very creepy character. When I first watched Colossal, I regarded the antagonist simply as a bitter person. In my head, he was just jealous of Gloria for leaving her home town and following her dreams.
Nowadays, I see Oscar as an incredibly toxic and manipulative person. He is a bully not only to Gloria, but also to his friends. Real friends don’t treat each other poorly just because they are in a “bad mood”.
Actually, people like Oscar are the worst. You know why? They pretend to be nice, but underneath it all, they are really not.
At first, it seemed that Oscar was helping Gloria to get back up at her feet and settle in a new environment. However, people like him only like you when you’re down. Also, they are only willing to keep you around when you fit into their agenda.
What happened to Gloria when she was trying to cut her heavy drinking? Oscar started to act cold towards her. That really shows how manipulative Oscar is. He only likes “messy and broken” Gloria, because it’s easier to control a damaged person than someone who has their life together.
Another instance of Oscar’s controlling nature, was the fireworks incident at his bar. In this particular scene, Oscar destroyed his own business just to intimidate Tim and send a message to Gloria. Basically, the man was trying to show everyone that he is the one in charge, but… he is not. That pseudo demonstration of power is the complete opposite behaviour of a true “alpha”.
All those temper tantrums at the bar, only goes to show how insecure Oscar is. In other words, people like him are just pathetic little beings. They need others’ misery to feed their bruised ego.
I actually quite enjoyed the ending of Colossal. The part where Gloria throws Oscar far away was very satisfying to watch. Also, the scene where Gloria sighs at the thought of getting another drink felt very real. As viewers, we don’t know whether Gloria is going to take that drink or not. And that’s what addiction is… it doesn’t go away overnight.
Overall, Colossal is a very fun watch. For me, it worked as a cautionary tale for addiction and its negative effects. In addition, the story also reminds its viewers that betrayal often comes from those who are close to us…