Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal is everything science fiction should be, with people with real faults finding themselves connected to a giant Kaiju and robot in Seoul. If you have not seen the film, check it out on Hulu now. This post will analyze the gigantic spoilers from the end of the movie, so go stream the movie before reading any further.
Fictional Factual Background
For those who did not watch the film and pressed on, the protagonist Gloria is unemployed, has huge problems with drinking, getting black out drunk, and partying all night. After her boyfriend threw her out of his apartment, she returned to her parents’ empty home in New Hampshire. Over the course of the film, Gloria learned whenever she entered a playground that a giant monster appeared in Seoul, South Korea. The monster was Gloria’s avatar, thus whatever she did in the park, was also done by the monster in Seoul.
It is later learned that Oscar, a childhood bully turned creepy hoarding stalker, appeared as a giant robot in Seoul whenever he entered the park.
In the climax of the film, Gloria went to Seoul, because Oscar had begun a routine of tormenting Seoul, with mass murder and destruction by stomping around the playground in New Hampshire. Gloria played a hunch that if she was in Seoul, her monster would appear in New Hampshire.
Gloria was correct and stopped Oscar’s robot in South Korea by having her monster throw Oscar to his death in New Hampshire.
The Defense of South Korea
Gloria’s defense of South Korea from Oscar raises a colossal number of legal issues. Regardless of the fact that Oscar was likely violating the Logan Act by personally threatening the lives of a United States alley, Gloria killed Oscar in order to defend everyone threatened by Oscar’s rampage in South Korea. Was Oscar’s death legally justified?
As Oscar was killed in New Hampshire, New Hampshire law will apply for determining whether the death was justified. This is somewhat complicated with a Schrodinger’s Cat effect, in that Gloria was in Seoul at the time of Oscar’s death in New Hampshire, while her Kaiju avatar committed the killing.
New Hampshire law states that a person is justified in using deadly force on another if they reasonably believe the attacker is about to use unlawful, deadly force against a third person. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 627:4(II)(a). However, deadly force is not justified if the threatened person could retreat in complete safety from the threat. Retreat is not required if the threatened person is in their home and was not the initial aggressor. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 627:4(III)(a).
The law is silent on Kaiju avatars used in the defense of others. Applying the black letter text of the statute, Gloria could reasonably believe Oscar was going to use deadly force against the population of Seoul. Oscar had stomped around the playground/ Seoul the day before to cause mayhem and inflict death on South Korea. As such, the population of Seoul was reasonably in danger of death.
The population of Seoul was clearly not the aggressor in Oscar’s attack. Moreover, there was no place for the population of Seoul could retreat to, short of abandoning their city. While New Hampshire law has not ever required the population of a foreign country to retreat before, there is a colorable argument that the homes of those in Seoul being threatened with destruction, meant the homeowners did not need to retreat to another city. The citizens of Seoul had a right to be in their homes, thus should not have to retreat from their city from Oscar’s robot avatar.
Gloria used her monster to pick up Oscar and throw him, almost certainly resulting in his death. Arguably the threat to Seoul had passed when Oscar was captured. However, retraining Oscar would only last as long as Gloria’s Kaiju avatar held Oscar. Given the fact Gloria was in South Korea and Oscar in New Hampshire, Oscar could immediately become a reasonable threat to Seoul once he was put down by entering the playground again. While defense of others can be argued, throwing Oscar could be viewed as unjustified murder, due to the lack of the imminent use of deadly force by Oscar. Regardless, Gloria has a strong alibi if charged with murder, as she was outside of the United States at the time of Oscar’s death.
The world needs more creative science fiction movies. Colossal is about flawed people who are in out-of-this-world situations. The person who starts out as the out-of-control party girl decided to do what is right when faced with a threat. The person, who appeared to be a decent and kind, was actually a violent creep. The movie is thoughtful and entertaining, with giant monsters, and colossal legal issues.
Now, as to the matter of Gloria’s liability for monster damage in South Korea from her dance attack, hope she has good homeowner’s insurance and equity in her parents’ home, because the damages would definitely exceed her policy limits.