Empire (Australasia) - - Contents -




DI­REC­TOR Na­cho Vi­ga­londo

CAST Anne Hath­away, Ja­son Sudeikis, Tim Blake Nel­son, Dan Stevens

PLOT A hap­less drunk (Hath­away) moves back to her small home­town, where she re­con­nects with an old friend. But their boozy rou­tine is in­ter­rupted when a gi­ant lizard crea­ture at­tacks Seoul — an at­tack which has a mys­te­ri­ous con­nec­tion with their small town…

YOU’VE NEVER SEEN a kaiju film like this be­fore. Glo­ria (Hath­away) is a hap­less boozer, kicked out of her boyfriend’s New

York apart­ment un­til she gets her life in or­der; so she retreats to her fam­ily’s empty small­town home, and re-con­nects with an old child­hood friend (Ja­son Sudeikis). Any by “re-con­nects”, we mean “gets drunk every day”. And then, one day, a gi­ant crea­ture (not Godzilla, the copy­right lawyers would like to em­pha­sise) ap­pears in Seoul and starts tram­pling build­ings and civil­ians. Glo­ria fig­ures out (re­mark­ably quickly, for such an un­likely sit­u­a­tion) that she is con­nected to the crea­ture. And then things get re­ally weird.

Like all magic re­al­ism, it’s at its best when it’s not try­ing to ex­plain or jus­tify — when it’s still like a dream, with its own weird in­ter­nal logic that makes sense as long as you’re asleep, but seems in­com­pre­hen­si­ble when you wake up. But just like Spike Jonze did with Be­ing John Malkovich, writer/di­rec­tor Vi­ga­londo can’t hold his nerve — he has to try and ex­plain why. Vi­ga­londo doesn’t com­pletely break the spell, but it’s just less satisfying when he tries to ex­plain ev­ery­thing. No ex­pla­na­tion could re­ally work — it’s too loopy to sup­port any at­tempt at logic, and that’s fine. Any­one who can’t handle this level of sur­re­al­ism will have al­ready stomped off to the bar by that point. And be­sides, the ex­pla­na­tion doesn’t even re­ally hold water — no spoil­ers, but the pre­cise bound­aries of the phe­nom­e­non don’t cor­re­late with… oh, never mind. (On the other hand, no ex­pla­na­tion of any kind is of­fered as to why the res­i­dents of Seoul not only fail to

evac­u­ate the city de­spite be­ing stomped on night af­ter night — they ac­tu­ally flock to the stomp­ing epi­cen­tre, where po­lice calmly herd them into eas­ily stomped crowds.)

Hath­away is ter­rific as hot mess Glo­ria: she may look too beau­ti­ful for some­one wak­ing up con­torted and hun­gover every morn­ing, but she’s spot on in her small man­ner­isms. The way she flinches when re­ceiv­ing praise, the rue­ful naughty-labrador smile when she’s caught once again do­ing some­thing she knows she shouldn’t — it’s easy to imag­ine men fall­ing for her de­spite ev­ery­thing.

In all, it doesn’t com­pletely work — it’s nei­ther a great mon­ster movie, nor a truly con­vinc­ing char­ac­ter piece. Hath­away and Sudeikis are be­liev­able drunks — phys­i­cally in con­trol, men­tally lurch­ing to­wards a cliff — but Sudeikis’s char­ac­ter un­der­goes such a, well, mon­strous trans­for­ma­tion so quickly that it’s hard to keep up: by the fire­works scene, you’re think­ing “C’mon, re­ally?” And de­spite the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the ob­vi­ous themes — bat­tling our in­ner mon­sters; the way our own petty per­sonal prob­lems out­weigh mat­ters of life and death over­seas — the film never fully en­gages with any of them. But it’s so ad­mirably bonkers, such a glee­fully huge swing for the fences, that it’s hard not to en­joy it no mat­ter what.


VERDICT An odd­ity that would be worth see­ing purely out of cu­rios­ity, but in fact de­liv­ers plea­sures be­yond its trippy con­cept — even if it never fully lives up to its po­ten­tial.

“So, wait, Alfred sees you both in Florence and says noth­ing?”

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