BY JENNA SIMPSON
Before you read this review, if you haven’t already seen the trailer, take a moment and watch it now:
Now, I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the world premiere of The Colony in Toronto last week. Director Jeff Renfroe, and stars Kevin Zegers (Damian from Gossip Girl) and the incomparable Laurence Fishburne were there, and it was very exciting! Kevin is very slight of frame and dashing. Laurence is not as tall as I would have expected, as is often the case I suppose when you see celebrities in person, especially ones who have played really BIG characters, like oh, I don’t know, MORPHEUS.
Anyway, Fishburne has a wonderful presence, very warm. It was really neat to hear from the cast and the director about what it was like to shoot the film in the real-life cold of North Bay Ontario and the NORAD base in northern Quebec. Making it all that much more of a Canadian experience, one of our local celebrities, CBC TV personality George Stromboulopoulos, was the host and moderator for the Q&A period at the end. And, to top the evening off, my friend and movie companion Nina got to ask the last question, about what new projects Mr. Fishburne has coming down the pipes. (Turns out he’s been a busy man!)
But, enough about the premiere — what about the movie? Well, you got a pretty good sense of what the movie is about from the trailer. There really aren’t any surprises. It’s a post-apocalyptic story about groups of people living in underground bunkers and trying to survive. The group, led by Fishburne, gets a distress call from a nearby colony and decides to go out there and see if they can help. When they arrive, something very bad has happened. It becomes a problem for them as well. That’s it — pretty simple.
There’s a lot of good, cool action. The Colony is extremely convincing in its depiction of a frozen world — if I survive the zombie apocalypse, whatever form it might take, I sure hope that this isn’t the world I wake up to (BRRRR)! The Fish is amazing as always. Bill Paxton plays a good villain, and Kevin Zegers carries the film quite well even in the company of these distinguished actors. The special effects are really well done. And it’s super creepy. It is very violent, though, so be warned.
These kinds of stories never fail to capture my imagination. Post-apocalyptic/dystopian survival is probably my favourite genre. I love it. Can’t get enough. What I find so interesting about it is how it highlights so clearly the human condition: how fragile we are and how tenaciously we cling to life, at nearly any cost.
I like to think about what kinds of power structures could develop under these desperate kinds of circumstances — how old relations of power could become stronger, or how new ones might emerge. It’s interesting how storytellers treat ethics and morality under these conditions, especially the question of what we might be willing to do to each other when our accepted governance structures are dissolved. I always like to push back against the Hobbesian “state of nature” — the idea that we would simply be at war with one another, every person for him/herself. I like to think that we might try to take care of each other, too. In the end, The Colony, I argue, gives us a picture of both.