Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: The Colony

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice: In this formulaic post-apocalyptic thriller, the Earth has been frozen by a manmade catastrophe and scattered colonies of survivors try to retain their humanity while living in a remorseless world where weakness is death and mankind's worst enemy is man.

Sept 20, 2013

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1385278-Colony_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Underground Colony 7, housed in a former military facility (a real decommissioned NORAD base), is a relatively successful society, even if the population has decreased considerably from the 400 with which it started, largely because of once-common and manageable diseases that burn through close quarters and weakened immune systems.

Colony 7's tough-but-fair head man, Briggs (Laurence Fishburne), lives and leads by two rules: Everybody pulls his or her weight and everyone looks out for everyone else until the bitter end—if the rule of might takes over, they'll be no better than animals. When a garbled but urgent distress call comes in from the much-smaller Colony 5, with which 7 has a mutual support pact, they have to go help. Leaving sexy geek-girl Kai (Charlotte Sullivan) in charge, Briggs braves the perpetual snow and ice with two volunteers—Kai's boyfriend Sam (Kevin Zegers, of TV's “Gossip Girl”), who he rescued from certain death as a child, and wet-behind-the ears Graydon (Atticus Mitchell). In Briggs’ absence, security head Mason (Bill Paxton), a hard-core survivalist with little patience for moral imperatives, starts flexing his muscles.

But there's worse trouble ahead: Colony 5 has been wiped out by a different breed of survivor, and now they have their sights set on doing the same to Colony 7. Who will win the battle between civilized ideals and dog-eat-dog savagery?

Director and co-writer Jeff Renfroe's future shocker The Colony is highly derivative, but credit where it's due: It has echoes of films as far-ranging as the grisly Pandorum and Doomsday (both 2009), The Road (also 2009, a bumper year for gory dystopias), and even Robert Altman's melancholy 1979 Quintet. That said, there's not much to it on a narrative level: It's a siege movie that pits a scrappy little cadre of decent folk against a swarm of apparent others, a template that's produced some great films, from Rio Bravo to Night of the Living Dead. What distinguishes the cream of the crop is their emphasis on characterization, and that's The Colony's Achilles’ heel: Fishburne, Zegers and Paxton (playing yet another variation on Aliens' blustering coward, Private Hudson) do what they can with their thinly written characters, and hulking character actor Dru Viergever has a fine old time playing the bestial, pointy-toothed chief of the other survivors. But the rest of the cast is a crew of types, and not especially interesting ones, and when you don't especially care who lives and who dies, all the skull-crunching action doesn't amount to a hill of beans.


Film Review: The Colony

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice: In this formulaic post-apocalyptic thriller, the Earth has been frozen by a manmade catastrophe and scattered colonies of survivors try to retain their humanity while living in a remorseless world where weakness is death and mankind's worst enemy is man.

Sept 20, 2013

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1385278-Colony_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Underground Colony 7, housed in a former military facility (a real decommissioned NORAD base), is a relatively successful society, even if the population has decreased considerably from the 400 with which it started, largely because of once-common and manageable diseases that burn through close quarters and weakened immune systems.

Colony 7's tough-but-fair head man, Briggs (Laurence Fishburne), lives and leads by two rules: Everybody pulls his or her weight and everyone looks out for everyone else until the bitter end—if the rule of might takes over, they'll be no better than animals. When a garbled but urgent distress call comes in from the much-smaller Colony 5, with which 7 has a mutual support pact, they have to go help. Leaving sexy geek-girl Kai (Charlotte Sullivan) in charge, Briggs braves the perpetual snow and ice with two volunteers—Kai's boyfriend Sam (Kevin Zegers, of TV's “Gossip Girl”), who he rescued from certain death as a child, and wet-behind-the ears Graydon (Atticus Mitchell). In Briggs’ absence, security head Mason (Bill Paxton), a hard-core survivalist with little patience for moral imperatives, starts flexing his muscles.

But there's worse trouble ahead: Colony 5 has been wiped out by a different breed of survivor, and now they have their sights set on doing the same to Colony 7. Who will win the battle between civilized ideals and dog-eat-dog savagery?

Director and co-writer Jeff Renfroe's future shocker The Colony is highly derivative, but credit where it's due: It has echoes of films as far-ranging as the grisly Pandorum and Doomsday (both 2009), The Road (also 2009, a bumper year for gory dystopias), and even Robert Altman's melancholy 1979 Quintet. That said, there's not much to it on a narrative level: It's a siege movie that pits a scrappy little cadre of decent folk against a swarm of apparent others, a template that's produced some great films, from Rio Bravo to Night of the Living Dead. What distinguishes the cream of the crop is their emphasis on characterization, and that's The Colony's Achilles’ heel: Fishburne, Zegers and Paxton (playing yet another variation on Aliens' blustering coward, Private Hudson) do what they can with their thinly written characters, and hulking character actor Dru Viergever has a fine old time playing the bestial, pointy-toothed chief of the other survivors. But the rest of the cast is a crew of types, and not especially interesting ones, and when you don't especially care who lives and who dies, all the skull-crunching action doesn't amount to a hill of beans.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
Film Review: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Venture inside the hallowed hallways of Japan's most prestigious animation studio in this insightful documentary. More »

Antarctica: A  Year On Ice
Film Review: Antarctica: A Year on Ice

Thrilling, award-winning New Zealand doc about the mysterious and forbidding continent at the bottom of the world is not your usual travelogue, but a surprising exploration of the human soul and human needs. Happily, adorable penguins and stunning visuals also get screen time. More »

Remote Area Medical
Film Review: Remote Area Medical

Doc offers in-the-trenches evidence of dire need in the U.S. health-care system. More »

Immortalists
Film Review: The Immortalists

Attention-grabbing subject meets colorful characters in this science doc. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Penguins of Madagascar
Film Review: Penguins of Madagascar

Frenetic vehicle for supporting players from the Madagascar films will entertain kids but prove a little wearying for their parents. More »

imitation game
Film Review: The Imitation Game

Terrific biopic about world-class mathematician and social misfit Alan Turing, who, in spite of a painful struggle with his homosexuality, helped the Allies break the code of the Nazis' Enigma machine. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here