“Lawrence Fishburne Is The Best Thing In A Feature You Probably Already Seen In Other Movies.”
I have been wanting to see The Colony every since I saw its trailer on YouTube four or five months ago, so naturally I was jazzed to learn that it’s on Netflix. It takes place in an indeterminate future, where we have built huge machines to control the weather (it should go without saying that if it’s isn’t broke, don’t fix it). Naturally (and somewhat obviously), this scheme goes awry, and the Earth is plunged into an seemingly unending Ice Age.
And if that weren’t bad enough, for some reason people are more susceptible to ailments like the flu, which Colony 7 lacked the medicines to treat. What the movie doesn’t seem to understand is that the flu is viral, which means that antibiotics have no effect (which is typically why doctors recommend bed rest and lots of fluids).
That being said, in 1918 the Spanish flu literally killed somewhere in the ballpark of 50 million, which included a lot of young and otherwise healthy people. What made it so unusual is that it caused a person’s immune system to go into overdrive, which mean that–ironically–the healthier you are, and the stronger your immune system, the greater the likelihood that it would kill you while, young children and older people, with weaker immune systems were more likely to recover.
Besides, it’s not unknown for viruses to mutate, so it’s certainly possible that a new variant of the flu could have arisen.
In any case, they’re short of food, personnel, and (with reason) virtually paranoid about illness, so when they receive an SOS from Colony 5, a neighboring settlement–which isn’t to imply that it’s, geographically speaking, all that close– need aid, their leader, Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) forms a three-man a team to investigate, despite the misgivings of Mason (Bill Paxton).
Which in hindsight wasn’t a good move because Mason makes it fairly obvious that he wants to take over. His job was to “take care” of the people who were sick, which normally started with isolating them for a period of time. If they got better, then all was good, though if they didn’t they would get the option of either leaving–almost certainly a death sentence–or a bullet–definitely a death sentence.
Mason streamlined the entire process: If they’re coughing, he’s shooting.
There’s a subplot involving a distant colony that has gotten one of the weather control machines that dot the landscape like abstract art, working, so they’re able to push back the ice and snow.
Though they don’t have any seeds, which makes the fact they can reach soil, but have nothing to plant, a bit of a catch-22.
But Colony 7 does, but can’t reach the soil because of the ice. The movie dangles the possibility of locating this ice-free Roanoke, but does little with it (though there’s an implication that it’s not quite what it seems).
Things start out promisingly, visually evoking a feeling of desolation and emptiness that’s enhanced by all the cold, ice and snow (which looks like a mix of practical sets enhanced with mattes and CGI), extending to the people themselves, who teeter on the edge of despair and (potentially) extinction.
And start going downhill when Briggs and his team reach Colony 5. Prior to this point the movie echoed films like John Carpenter’s The Thing–which, if you’re going to use something as a template, it’s a great choice (speaking of which, the score by Jeff Danna was effective in evoking the desolateness of their surroundings and plight without sounding derivative of the music that Alan Howarth composed for The Thing, which is a good thing).
What’s not such a good thing is that when they reach Colony 5 the movie things get eerily similar to another John Carpenter movie, Ghosts Of Mars (which I enjoy, warts and all).
Which isn’t to imply that The Colony is a bad or unwatchable film. It’s isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, though it’s unfortunately not terribly original (if the threat that awaited them at Colony 5 were more interesting, it could have possibly raised the movie to another level).
As it stands, it’s worth watching, but when all is said and done, you feel like you seen it all before (which you probably have).