Movie Review: The Colony (2013, Dir. Jeff Renfroe)

The Colony - Movie Review 2013

Man, post-apocalyptic films really don’t have a lot of faith in small groups of human beings.

In most any film set during the collapse of civilization, the remainders of humanity are organized together into small groups that almost always fall apart. They live on the strings of their teeth, one guys claims: “I can lead this tribe better than he can!”, and boom. Everyone’s dead.

I hate to break it to these guys, but humanity has been living in tribes for way longer than they have in so-called civilization, and judging by the fact that we’re here now, it seems like they did a pretty decent job of not killing each other every time someone got a cold. Nonetheless, it is that admirable lack of faith in functioning communities that makes movies like The Colony possible.

The film is set in a world where human civilization has fallen apart due to excessive snowfall (the film was made in Ontario, so you certainly can’t say they don’t have experience in that regard). The snowfall was caused by global warming heating the earth more and more until apparently it got bored and decided to cover everything in snow instead. If you think I’m being flippant, rest assured that’s pretty much all of the explanation the movie gives us, delivering it through the time-honored task of voiceover narration the likes of which made the original cut of Blade Runner suck. They live in a sheltered society where medicine ran out long ago, and any sickness accrued by people within the community is likely to spread if not immediately treated. “Treated” in this case meaning “put metal slugs in their head at high velocity until they stop moving”.

The Colony‘s story is a cookie-cutter apocalypse plot, to the point at which I am beginning to wonder if this and so many other films rely on a single book of “Mad-Libs for Screenwriters” to create their scripts. Guys get a distress call, guys go out to investigate distress call, discover something has gone horribly wrong. Just once, just once, I’d like to see a film where a group of people investigate a distress call and discover that someone just sent the signal on accident and everyone is completely fine and would they like to have dinner at their place and all the people go back to their own community with full bellies.

The cast is a veritable parade of Sci-Fi character cliches, if the characters have enough depth to even be cliches in the first place. All told, there are only four characters you need to care about.

You have the main character, Generic White Male, played by Kevin Zegers. His character is centered around two unique traits. 1) That his mother died in some unspecified accident which he reminisces on for all of two minutes then does not bring up again. And 2) That he has no other unique traits.

He is backed up by his female lead, Kai, played by Charlotte Sullivan, who we are introduced to when her boyfriend touches her shoulder and she pulls a gun on him, then kisses him. As Hollywood relationships go, they’re relatively well-adjusted.

The two of them are aided by staunch ally Lawrence Fishburne, played by Lawrence Fishburne. In a film saturated with bland, unimpressive acting, Lawrence’s presence is a light in the darkness.

They are opposed by Mason, played by Bill Paxton, who is the designated villain of this colony (every post-apocalyptic community has to have one). As the villain, his motives are as pure as they are stupid. He wants power, and if that means killing every single other person in the colony until he alone rules a smoldering pile of debris then by God he’ll do just that.

Every other character in the film can be adequately described by pointing at the screen and referring to them with pronouns. He, she, it, that — all those and more will be sufficient to give their characters the breadth and depth they deserve.

The one thing the film has going for it are the CGI visuals. I won’t go so far as to say it brought the film to life, but it certainly made for an interesting environment for them to bland it up in.

In case you haven’t guessed, The Colony is nothing special, but it wasn’t intended to be. The film is pure B-Movie bliss, the kind of film that you bring your buddies over to watch, get drunk, and then yell at the film Mystery Science Theater-style. It’s stupid, but it’s happy being stupid.

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