December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
IT'S almost May.
As I write this, it's snowing. Again.
The snow on my front lawn is still about a metre deep.
And did I mention it's almost May?
I state these things in the interest of laying prejudices on the table: A post-apocalyptic movie set on the perpetually frozen Earth is not something I would have chosen to see if I had a choice.
I'm sorry. The concept of a never-ending winter hits a little too close to home.
But even factoring in my weather-related chagrin, the doom-laden scenario of the Canadian sci-fi/horror hybrid The Colony doesn't hold much redeeming value as either entertainment or social commentary.
The year is 2045, and Earth's population is reduced to the clever few who have taken up residence in a handful of underground colonies, where they are sustained by meagre hydroponic farms.
On Colony 7, the populace is especially vigilant about disease. A common cold will result in forced quarantine, and if you don't get better, you have to go for a long walk -- outside.
Even on this policy, there is a divide. The colony's ultimate authority Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) favours the private (exile) option. His ruthless second-in-command Mason (Bill Paxton) is inclined to quickly execute the afflicted with a single shot to the head.
Yep, even in 2045, there is still a health-care debate.
The grim populaces face a different danger when a neighbouring colony ceases communication with Colony 7. Briggs decides to investigate himself, along with the plucky mechanic Sam (Kevin Zegers) and an adventure-craving young man named Graydon (Atticus Mitchell). In the face of Mason's nascent psychosis, they leave Sam's girlfriend Kai (Charlotte Sullivan) in charge of the colony.
After the long trek to the neighbours, the three adventurers find a virtually abandoned facility, only to discover some malevolent interlopers who now endanger Colony 7.
In shooting this future-imperfect adventure, director Jeff Renfroe invokes comparison to, of all things, Waterworld, with which it shares a worst-case-scenario message about hubris, climate change and a feral future for humanity.
But even Waterworld (itself a waterlogged rip-off of The Road Warrior) had the redeeming visual value of sun and sea. The largely computer-generated icy landscapes of The Colony are bleak, bleak, and more bleak, broken up by scenes of industrial grunge and slaughterhouse horror.
The only way it might have worked if the script by Patrick Tarr, Pascal Trottier and Svet Rouskov offered a novel bit of wit and/or terror to the proceedings. They don't.
I admit this movie may just be the victim of a poorly chosen release date. In the heat of the summer, people might find the concept more palatably alien.
If I want to confront the spectacle of bedraggled humanity struggling to survive in a grey realm of unceasing winter, I'll just get out of bed.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 26, 2013 D5
Updated on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 9:21 AM CDT:
adds fact box