Remember that movie Wall-E. Earth is a barren wasteland of machines performing menial labor, the only organic life is an indestructible insect, and humans are far out in space living their so-called best life. It’s a heartwarming tale of two artificially intelligent robots finding love while also trying to bring the human race back to the planet. I’m not saying this new movie reminds me of any of that, except for the human race abandoning the planet; but if you thought Wall-E should have been live-action, had an even bleaker view of humans in the future, and addressed more mature, societal problems, then this might be the film for you.
In The Colony, directed by Tim Fehlbaum, Blake (Nora Arnezeder) is part of a scouting expedition from the Kepler 209 space colony. She and her crew were sent to Earth to confirm if it is habitable for humans again. Two generations prior a group of mankind’s most affluent citizens vacated Earth before the destruction of all civilization, but the untold variables of life in space have inhibited their ability to procreate. So Blake’s crew is also tasked with finding out if female fertility is possible as well. Several setbacks and challenges derail the mission. As they traverse this unbelievably wet landscape, they are met with a surprising discovery. Humans do still exist and have managed to form a new civilization, albeit a very primitive one. Blake meets Narvik (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina), a mother who tries to protect the children of her tribe. Narvik is reluctant to help her until she needs Blake’s help when enemies arrive. Together they set out to find answers and save Narvik’s people. Blake manages to navigate the language barrier of the people and show off her skills in combat. Her primary goal is to contact Kepler 209 if she determines that life here is possible, but that decision could become more complicated as she learns the truth about this new world.
The overall landscape for the most part is vast plains of water and wet terrain. You wonder if anyone is ever really dry with the amount of moisture displayed onscreen. There are also some great set pieces of giant, overturned cargo ships and ocean liners being used as buildings. It makes the environment an obstacle to overcome for the inhabitants, but also a resource for transportation. Blake is unfamiliar with this type of world since her life has always been spent in a more sterile environment. Her ability to adapt to these unpredictable surroundings is remarkable and speaks to her training.
As the movie progresses, you learn more about the people that left Earth behind and what their philosophy is. You also develop an understanding of the people on the planet. Even without subtitles, you pick up their intentions based on body language and facial expressions. The only similarity between these two groups is survival. One is desperately trying to maintain their existence and the other has, for the most part, figured out how to survive in spite of the conditions that they were forced to endure. The Earth people didn’t feel inferior as humans until the Kepler 209 people started showing up and this new social dynamic creates an ethical dilemma that is difficult to remedy without communication and empathy. You have some people that want to bring Kepler 209 home and others who are determined to maintain the life they had before they arrived. It’s a big world for everyone, but you have to consider what led to its destruction.
You might find the overall story to be too familiar. The slower pacing may also not keep your attention, but I enjoyed that it takes its time to get to where it’s going. Sometimes it’s easy to rush emotional beats and, as a result, you quickly lose interest in the characters.
The Colony is a nice thought-provoking post-apocalyptic movie. It’s not overly reliant on visual effects. There’s probably a lot that goes unnoticed, but the movie benefits more from really good editing and cinematography. There are some good action sequences. There are also some great scenes with children. They definitely brighten up this dreary world. Nora Arnezeder keeps you focused and invested in her journey. I particularly enjoyed scenes with Iain Glen, who plays Gibson, and Sebastian Roche, who plays Blake’s father. They both were astronauts on a previous scouting expedition that ended in disaster. I recommend this if you like futuristic tales of human survival that also tackle moral ambiguity. It’s light on humor but has a good emotional core.
About The Colony
Synopsis: Set in the distant future, a female astronaut, shipwrecked on the long-decimated Earth, must decide the fate of the wasteland’s remaining populace.
Director: Tim Fehlbaum
Writer: Tim Fehlbaum, Mariko Minoguchi, Jo Rogers
Stars: Nora Arnezeder, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Iain Glen, Sope Dirisu, Joel Basman, Sebastian Roche
Runtime: 1 Hour, 44 Minutes