September 2, 2021 The Colony (Movie Review)
A woman travels 1,882 light-years to find herself shipwrecked on Earth in The Colony, which arrived to theaters, VOD, and Digital on Friday, August 27, 2021 thanks to Saban Films and Lionsgate (US) as well as Constantin Film and Vega Distribution (EU).
Written by Tim Fehlbaum (Nicht meine Hochzeit 2004, Apocalypse 2011) and Mariko Minoguchi (Karlstod short 2012, Relativity 2019), along with Jo Rogers (Doomsday 2008, In Bruges 2008) and Tim Trachte (You Don’t Want to Know 2011, Abschussfahrt 2015), and directed by Fehlbaum, The Colony delivers an apocalyptic tale full of dramatic tension. Mirroring our own climate change disasters, the Sci-Fi flick details humanity’s historic disregard for the planet and predicts a future where our abuse will finally render Earth uninhabitable.
The Colony is also a story rich with class struggle, as it paints a world in which those that have survived through a simpler way of life suffer at the hands of the technologically advanced. In the story, those with the means to do so have escaped to Kepler-209 where they live inside an enormous biodome. But, with time, the exoplanet’s environment renders all of its citizens infertile; and with no future generations, humanity is yet again staring into the eye of the abyss.
And so it is with an ironic twist of fate that a return to Earth becomes the only hope for mankind. With the initial mission lost, a second group of astronauts is sent to the planet, though only Blake (Nora Arnezeder: Paris 36 2008, Mozart in the Jungle series) and Tucker (Sope Dirisu: Gangs of London series, His House 2020) survive the ‘homecoming.’ Alive but shaken, Blake heads out to reconnoiter and wander the alien landscape, only to encounter Earth’s survivors. Soon a captive, she must decide whom she can trust in this increasingly problematic world.
It might be cliché to write, but it is easy to see that no expense was spared in The Colony’s creation. It is, thankfully, a film with a rich story that provides the substance necessary to keep it from earning that most hideous of rebukes: “all style, no substance”. From its stellar score by Lorenz Dangel (Apocalypse 2011, Pompeii 2014) to its marvelously understated costume design by Leonie Zykan (Apocalypse 2011, Midnight Runner 2018) to the magnificent cinematography of Markus Förderer (I Origins 2014, Bliss 2021), this is one of the best Sci-Fi flicks of 2021.
As with many of the genre’s masterpiece offerings, The Colony offers believability in its realistic scenario for humanity’s future. And while it’s not an idea that hasn’t been explored before, the film is able to counter its well-worn concepts with some fresh twists on established tropes. For example, while the patriarchy survives the apocalypse to enslave women by their genitals once again, this eerily real misogyny is the driving force for two fierce and intelligent female characters—Blake (Arnezeder) and Narvik (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina: Department Q: The Absent One 2014, Knightfall series)—who would rather die fighting than submit.
Even the children—Bella Bading (Tian – Das Geheimnis der Schmuckstraße 2017, Lassie Come Home 2020), Cloé Heinrich (Jerks series, The Defeated series), and Eden Gough (Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver 2018, Apple Tree House series)—are courageous. And in their attempts to aid the fight, each of the youngsters serves as a heartwarming reminder that, no matter the galaxy or planet, children will always be sneaky devils with immense hearts.
There is also something to be said for The Colony’s depictions of a future population that represents the beautiful rainbow that is the human race. Of course, humanity will never attain nirvana, so there remains struggle: the issues of class and privilege, Gibson’s (Iain Glen: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 2001, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter 2016) Kepler-fueled domination versus the altruistic hopes initially set out by Blake’s father (Sebastian Roché: The Man in the High Castle series, Batwoman series). These undertones of social commentary are at times subtle, but they scream their presence when we witness a select group culling the nomadic Muds for young girls to kidnap, raise as their own, and, ultimately, gift to Kepler-209 citizens as breeders.
In fact, oftentimes modern Sci-Fi will push its focus onto its scientific or action elements and entirely ignore the humanity of a situation; The Colony is not one of these films. Much of the human interest element of its story revolves around Arnezeder’s Louise Blake, a sympathetic character with an extensive backstory that provides us insight into her motivations. The talented actress’ careful portrayal of the nuanced Blake brings depth, providing a heroine who is fierce but not fearless. This, in turn, makes the film something more than another bleak apocalyptica: instead, this is the story of a little girl whose father chose “the many” and left her behind to forge her own path.
Arnezeder and her co-stars deliver exemplary performances against atmospheric landscapes that signal desolation and a bleak future. Considering the film comes at a time when the world is already so overwhelmingly dark, The Colony might be too much truth for some people to handle. For those that are willing to take the flight back to Earth, it is a carefully-crafted blend of Sci-Fi and Drama that, while highly enjoyable to watch, still manages to have something intelligent to say. For this, Cryptic Rock gives The Colony 5 of 5 stars.