The movie takes place in a modern ice age. Survivors found refuge from the ice and snow far underground in places like Colony 7, a community run with an iron fist by former military man Briggs (Laurence Fishburne). The underground ecosystem is fragile at best. “It’s not the cold we need to worry about, it’s each other,” says Sam (Kevin Zegers). An uneasy peace holds until a routine call to Colony 5 goes unanswered. As Briggs and a rescue team truck across the blustery tundra to investigate, things at Colony 7 go all Lord of the Flies. Unfortunately it’s an even worse situation at Colony 5.
• Richard: 3/5
• Mark: 2/5
Richard: Mark, I thought The Colony made good use of the situation to build atmosphere and tension. The icy outside and claustrophobic interiors (it was shot at the decommissioned North American Aerospace Defense Command base in North Bay, Ont.) do the trick, and keep you uncomfortable throughout. Shadows and creepy sounds stand-in for elaborate special effects, but when the going gets bloody, old school nasty action effects — like a bisected bad guy skull — are effective and cringe inducing. Were you hot or cold on it?
Mark: Somewhere between tepid and lukewarm, Richard. Although there’s nothing wrong with this movie, there’s not much that is original or memorable. It’s a little bit zombie, a little bit aliens, a little bit haunted house. The atmosphere and tension are well done, but that isn’t enough. The real mystery is how they got Laurence Fishburne to appear in what feels like a superior direct-to-video release.
RC: I hear you. On the downside The Colony has many of the standard plot devices used in sci-fi thrillers — who doesn’t see the sacrifice of the metaphorical red shirt coming? — and the ultimate survivors just happen to be the good-looking ones who escape to Adam and Eve it up elsewhere. But it makes up for its deficiencies with some excellently feral cannibals and an ending that, while hopeful, is still bleaker and cooler than we might expect if this was a big Hollywood movie.
MB: I didn’t find the ending bleak at all. What I did find bleak was casting Bill Paxton and giving him a one dimensional papier mâché role. Mind you, none of the characters were particularly vivid.
RC: Bill Paxton has been in WAY worse movies than this. I kind of liked the simplicity of the whole thing. Reminded me of an old school action movie that stereotypes as a kind of shorthand to let the audience know what to expect. It’s not the characters that are interesting — they’re the standard hero, anti-hero types — it’s their actions. This movie doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any means, but the journey the characters went on entertained me. Besides, any movie featuring feral cannibals is OK in my books.
MB: Hey, I like a feral cannibal as much as the next guy; I mean, it’s not like I’m a vegan. I was modestly entertained by the movie but I thought it could have been better with a few more rewrites. I will say this, though: North Bay has never looked better.
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