Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Colony (2013)

This film starts with a similar basic premise to Snowpiercer: human efforts to counteract global warming plunge the world into a new ice age.  Unlike the South Korean film though, there is no magical train as humanity's last hope.  Instead we have small subterranean enclaves scattered around the place.  Each struggles with the necessities of survival, with disease being a particular problem.  Why this is so is not explained - perhaps because of the poor diet?

We begin in 'Colony Seven', an enclave where things are becoming rather tense, as the 2nd in charge keeps pushing for a more draconian approach than his commander is willing to countenance.  Said 2IC is played by Bill Paxton, who you may know best as "Game over, man!" Hudson from Aliens.  He's a fine choice for the role, and I wish he was given more to do in the script.

But we're about to leave him behind for the second act of the film.  You see, Colony Seven has been in regular contact with another base - Colony Five - but the latter went radio silent for a week due to the need to do repairs, and when they came back online, it was to broadcast a distress signal.  The boss of Colony Seven, along with two volunteers, sets out to try and help.

And in some other reality, the film-makers made a choice here.  They either committed to the "power struggle in Colony Seven" plotline they've already set up, using the commander's absence as an opportunity for Paxton's character to go full-on dictator, or they committed to the threat that's overwhelmed Colony Five and will soon threaten Colony Seven.

In my opinion they would have best off with the former option, as the nature of the latter option's threat not only changes the tone of the film from the sombre thriller it has been so far to a much more action-horror feel, but is also deeply, deeply implausible.  Still, at least committing to it would have given the final act a clearer focus.  Instead they tried to keep both threads, thereby short-changing both of them.

The sound cast and solid technical work demonstrate that there were some talented people involved in this production.  Alas, their efforts are rather wasted on this script.

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