'Colony' may leave you feeling frosty

Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:30 PM ET

Welcome back to the post-apocalypse. It is a nasty, dangerous and dispirited world where catching the common cold or flu can lead to execution or forced suicide. This version of the post-apocalypse is also a mediocre new movie called The Colony.

Officially listed as a Canadian production but clearly a hybrid of American and Canadian talent and interests, The Colony is set in a violent future-shock world. It owes nothing to past movies and TV shows using the same or similar titles.

In this iteration, we learn that humanity has manipulated the weather patterns of Planet Earth, with predictably disastrous results. It is now an Ice Age environment where the few human survivors have holed up in scattered locations, making do with the detritus of the so-called civilization that preceded it. Not all survivors are friendly, having reverted to their most base animalistic urges.

The focus for Seattle-born co-writer and director Jeff Renfroe is one particular location where humans try to endure -- "the colony" of the title. They operate under the benevolent dictatorship of Laurence Fishburne (who is always great in these roles, as per his participation in The Matrix series). Fishburne's leadership rival is the hardass, hotheaded military man played by Bill Paxton. Fishburne prefers proper procedures when dealing with people who fall ill; Paxton likes summary executions in the snow outside. Tension grips the colony.

The young hero -- every post-apocalypse needs one -- is played by the engaging Canadian star Kevin Zegers. His love interest -- also obligatory in these circumstances -- is a dynamic, self-reliant woman played by another Canadian, Charlotte Sullivan. She helps to lessen the impact of the movie's out-of-control machismo.

This colony faces both a moral and a physical crisis. Fishburne leads an expedition outside, tramping through the frozen wastes trying to reach another colony which has sent out a distress signal. The results of this expedition will catapult The Colony from science fiction into horror-movie territory.

Anyone who is a little squeamish might want to give The Colony a pass. It is not a pretty picture. I mean that in terms of the carnage we witness. The special effects visuals -- both for the Ice Age and for the killing grounds -- are actually quite effective, given the modest $16 million budget. Renfroe shot the movie on location in Toronto and at the subterranean NORAD base in North Bay, Ontario (the facility, 60 storeys underground in the Canadian Shield, was decommissioned in 2006).

Anyone who has seen this kind of movie too many times before might also want to bail on The Colony. It adds nothing new to the genre. In fact, it becomes rather tiresome when Fishburne's role is marginalized. Paxton plays a type; Zegers does not have that much to do, except react to Fishburne and Paxton; and Sullivan is not enough to make things more interesting overall.

The whole enterprise is reduced to the lowest common denominator. One troublesome clue is that several other screenwriters were involved before (or when) Renfroe got his mitts on this thing. You might surmise that The Colony underwent a lot of changes from conception to the final generic product.

Regardless, The Colony is as frosty to watch as the Ice Age world it depicts.

bruce.kirkland@sunmedia.ca


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