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    Ian Jane
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  • Colony, The



    Released by: Image Entertainment
    Released on: October 15th, 2013.
    Director: Jeff Renfroe
    Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Zegers, Bill Paxton
    Year: 2013
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Jeff Renfroe, 2013's The Colony hit theaters up north in Canada earlier this year and fizzled out pretty quickly. It had a brief American theatrical run, but that didn't do much better. Not the disc finds new life on home video from Image Entertainment. Is it as bad as some would have you believe?

    Set some time in the not too distant future, a new ice age has ravaged the Earth and laid waste to much of its population. There are groups of survivors, such as the one led by Briggs (Laurence Fishburne). He and his rag tag group of toughs receive a distress call and figuring that there might be more people out there and that it's their duty to help who they can, Briggs and his right hand man, Sam (Kevin Zegers), head out into the frozen wasteland to try to do the right thing. Unfortunately, this leaves things wide open for resident sneaky guy Mason (Bill Paxton) to take advantage of the situation and to try and usurp control of the group from Briggs.

    Once Briggs and Sam figure out the truth behind what caused the distress call, they back off quickly, but as they head back to the base, something hungry follows them…

    So is The Colony as bad as its reputation would make you think? No, it's not. It's got some problems though. The first half of the movie is heavy on drama and character development and this is a good thing. The post-apocalyptic setting is a great backdrop for something like this to play off of, it's exciting and unfortunately with the way things are going in the world, believable enough to count. We get some very good scenes of tension here and the conflict that exists between Briggs and Mason is set up to be a strong backbone for the movie. From there, about half way through, once the distress call issue is brought to the forefront we wind up with what is basically akin to Just Before Dawn or maybe Rituals, but out in the snow. The movie completely shifts gears and turns into a fast paced action oriented horror movie rooted in the survivalist horror pictures that were popular in the late seventies and early eighties (many of which tried to cash in on the success of something like Deliverance). This change is jarring and it winds up not quite fulfilling the promise that it sets up in first half of the movie. Not that the action/horror last half is done poorly, it's perfectly fine, it's just that we don't quite wind up with enough of it and it feels truncated at best.

    The filmmakers do a good job with the visuals here. The wasteland they've created seems realistic enough and it's shot with enough style, albeit a very grim looking style (which is completely appropriate), that it's never hard to look at. Some clever camera angles help as do some solid production values.

    The performances are good. Fishburne makes for a strong lead and he handles both the dramatic aspects and the more physical side of his role well. Zegers in support of Fishburne is also strong. Paxton is excellent when used but he honestly doesn't get nearly enough screen time as he deserves. His presence here is welcome, but more could have been done with his character. All in all, this is a perfectly entertaining movie and not a bad film at all, but it is unusually disjointed in many ways. Had the script been smoothed out a little more this would have worked better than it does but if you like your sci-fi mixed with horror or you like your horror mixed with drama, you should find enough to like about this to make it worth seeing.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Colony looks pretty good in 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen as presented on this DVD. A quick look at the screen caps below makes it pretty obvious that Renfroe and company went for a grim look here, so don't expect a lot of bright colors, instead we get a lot of grey, brown, black and of course, once we go outside, harsh white. Contrast sometimes blooms but this appears to be intentional. Black levels are fairly solid but some really minor compression artifacts pop up. Overall, however, this is a perfectly nice presentation of a rather bleak looking movie. It's a pretty safe assumption to make if we say that this looks like Renfroe wanted it to look. He wasn't going for 'pretty' with this movie.

    The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, which comes with optional subtitles in English SDH and Spanish, is well designed and fairly engaging. There's good use made of the surround channels throughout the movie and the levels remain properly balanced ensuring the that dialogue is always perfectly easy to understand even during the more action intensive sequences.

    The only substantial extra on the disc is a ten minute behind the scenes featurette that features some comments from Renfroe as to his creative process and what he was going for with the way that this story was told. We also hear from the core cast members about their work on the picture. Aside from that, we get trailers for a few other Image properties but no trailer for the feature itself, menus and chapter stops.

    The Final Word:

    The Colony doesn't live up to its potential but it's not the waste of time so many have claimed it to be. The production values are there, it's well shot and the performances are good. Image's DVD looks and sounds fine and while it's hardly loaded with extras, the short documentary is interesting enough.




















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