Friday, April 26, 2013

Endless winter

And you thought our winter was interminable? The vitamin-deficient cast of The Colony are stuck living underground full-time in the midst of an ice age forecast for the not-too-distant future. Everybody seems crazy with misery and paranoia—a flu could easily wipe out the colony’s meager population. An extra-hammy Bill Paxton plays a trigger-happy veteran whose only source of engagement seems to come from getting rid of his fellow colonists the moment he catches them stifling a sneeze. “This isn’t right,” someone complains when Paxton marches a sniffly one out into the cold for an unceremonious execution that’s entirely against colonial protocol. “This is survival,” he replies with Schwarzeneggerian ponderousness. The hydroponic garden offers low yields and protein is scarce. Inhabitants mope around in unsexy layers of discount surplus store buys. Not even the rabbits seem to want to mate. Gilligan’s Bomb-shelter this is not.

Replete with an intermittent boilerplate voice-over (“One day it started to snow. It never stopped.”) riddled with redundant exposition, all of the film’s elaborate sci-fi trappings and awkward explication for murderous cabin fever are finally just laying the groundwork for what is essentially a dopey variation on the zombie apocalypse siege movie by another name. The good guys are attacked by a gang of cannibal freaks from a fellow colony, all of whom have astounding reflexes, top-notch combat skills and superhuman strength, which is funny when you consider that they’re severely malnourished. The aphasic bald trench-coated giant who seems to be the gang’s leader runs around in arctic weather conditions without a hat on. Laurence Fishburne is about the best things in the movie, but he gets killed in the first act. Canada’s own Julian Richlings shows up but is mostly just hysterical and famished. The violence is disgusting, phony looking and boring, and the landscapes are heavily digitized—could the not find appropriately wintry locations? Does Alberta not do service productions anymore? Do we really need to go to the movies in April to feel colder?

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