The Colony Jeff Renfroe

The Colony Jeff Renfroe
3
2012 has come and gone with nary a whisper nor a bang, but our pessimistic preoccupation with doomsday scenarios born of annihilation anxiety is as strong as ever. It's doubtful that the flow of entertainment reflecting that mindset will ebb even after the glut of projects green-lit pre-commercialized destruction date have found their way out of the starting gates.

The Colony, directed and co-written by Jeff Renfroe (best known for preachy, TV-movie quality racial paranoia flick Civic Duty) represents the most desultory, bottom-feeding example of films of this ilk. Devoid of even a shred of originality, this generic story of members of a post-apocalyptic outpost facing the brutality of mankind's animalistic survival instinct at its most extreme liberally borrows from the leavings of a wide swath of its predecessors.

Using a new glacial age — the result of climate change — to set the scenario is essentially an inversion of the Waterworld formula, which itself was widely referred to as "The Road Warrior at sea." This blatant borrowing of ideas is made even more transparent with the end goal of the story's protagonists: they are searching for a rumoured safe zone. "Warm land is not a myth; I've seen it!" Nobody actually utters that reductive statement, but it might as well be the film's tagline. A self-aware sense of humour would never do in a project that takes itself so deadly seriously though.

Positioned as an action thriller, The Colony wants to be seen more as a cross between The Road (people are bad want to eat you) and The Thing (there's something creepy in the snow!), or at least as kin to The Divide (people are bad and want to rape you) and Pandorum (there's something creepy in the post-apocalyptic… whatever).

As the remnants of civilization struggle to keep on keeping on with some semblance of human compassion, represented by the attitudes of de facto leader Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) and go-to traditionally attractive couple Sam (Kevin Zegers) and Kai (Charlotte Sullivan), they face physical adversity from a strain of the common cold that wiped out most of the planet's population and ethical dilemmas from the regressive, survival-at-all-costs alpha male chest puffing of Mason (Bill Paxton).

External to these threats to the hive's agreed upon social contracts is an unknown malicious force that has savaged their sister colony. The director's forced bee colony metaphor doesn't jive well with what's going on (maybe it was more applicable in an earlier draft — there are four writers credited).

Even if it's meant to suggest that a female monarchy would be more effective than a patriarchal democracy, the idea isn't well supported by the action — male leadership and thinking are still what save the day and point the way forward. Further highlighting the film's lazy cannibalism, the primary musical theme is quite obviously a truncated derivation of the main motif of Danny Elfman's extremely well known Batman theme.

Unless you're too young or weak to chew and digest brain food on your own, there's nothing nourishing about The Colony's pat regurgitations. (eOne)