|The Colony (2013)|
Reviewed by Dustin Putman
(Release Date: October 15, 2013) - In the not-so-distant future, constant winter has led to a new ice age and killed off most of the world's population. The survivors now hole up in underground facilities where they harvest seeds for food and try to carry on with life as best they can. Desperate to avoid a flu endemic, leader Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) has put a plan into motion where the infected are given a choice: either they leave the colony and journey into the bitter, snow-covered wasteland of Earth, or they get a gunshot to the head. Either way, they're goners. With Mason's (Bill Paxton) mental state beginning to collapse as he puts his own brutal rules into effect, the people of Colony 7 have another reason to worry when they are discovered and tracked down by a clan of ruthless cannibals who have wiped out the nearby Colony 5.
Directed by Jeff Renfroe, "The Colony" gets high production values and a chilly sense of scope out of a tight $16-million budget. In the making-of featurette on the Blu-ray disc, it is revealed that, in addition to shooting at the decommissioned NORAD base in Ontario, Canada, a fair amount was filmed in front of green screennot surprising, but still impressive since one can never really tell while watching the movie. As for the picture itself, it is a pretty standard post-apocalyptic thriller, economical but unsure of what it wants to be. Is it a viral outbreak movie? A creature feature? A study in human fallibility? It ends up being all of this, but in a half-hearted manner that does not satisfactorily explore its premise. Kevin Zegers (2013's "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones") is charismatic in the restrictive lead role of Sam, while Bill Paxton (2012's "Haywire") and Laurence Fishburne (2013's "Man of Steel") give respectable weight to archetypal parts as Mason and Briggs.
One thing that cannot be denied is how great "The Colony" looks in its lush, persuasively detailed 1080p transfer. Shot digitally, and it shows (there is no detectable filmic grain anywhere to be found), the picture nonetheless feels appropriately textural and with only intermittent signs of the post-production overhaul that went into the film's frequent visual effects. There is some slight banding that occurs whenever light intrudes upon dank surroundings, and the occasional darkness isn't as inky and refined as one wishes it would be, but these are the only debits in an otherwise top-shelf transfer. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio gets its juices flowing as the action set-pieces ramp up in the second half, but is less effective in the quieter, more sedate moments. Overall, though, it sounds great. Few complaints here.
"The Colony" Behind-the-Scenes Featurette with Cast & Crew Interviews (9:50, HD)
Diehard fans of dystopian science-fiction might take to "The Colony," but few others will. It's a competently made film, but misses out on becoming anything more than disposable entertainment by never properly focusing itself and developing its themes. Suspenseful in spots, but not scary or terribly involving, "The Colony" is a take-it-or-leave-it kind of release made more palatable by its slick visual sheen and attractive high-definition treatment. For this, the movie might be worth a rental on a relaxing Saturday night, but not much more than that.