Visually impressive and very atmospheric, The Colony AKA Tides is a European science fiction movie with a strange vibe. It blended so many different ideas we’ve seen in other movies that it struggles to maintain a coherent narrative. It’s not as big as Waterworld or dark as Mindwarp but it’s sure something. We follow a small team sent to Earth to check whether it’s recovered enough for the return of the rest of humanity. Oh yeah, when things got tough, the elites just packed up their bags and headed for Kepler 209.
First of all, I would like to say fuck the elites, their efforts, and worries! It’s their fucking fault we ended up in this mess in the first place. So I had an immediate dislike for our main characters. Their moto is for the many now after they took all the resources for the few. Fucking Musks’ and Bezoss’ of the future, I hope your ship burns up upon entry. Somehow I was able to contain my disdain for these characters and go along with the story. Mostly because this is probably what’s going to happen. Same as it did in Elysium.
The cinematography and overall visual style of The Colony AKA Tides are very sleek and appealing. It’s not overly artistic but is sure as shit authentic. It’s probably most similar to Oblivion and Arrival if I had to compare it to something. Everything is always shrouded in fog and depression. It feels like you’re dreaming this story as it’s unfolding before your eyes. Dead but dreaming to quote the great American poet Glen Benton. The locations we will be visiting get progressively better, so just hang in there and you will be rewarded for your effort. Even the gadgets and computers look good and believable.
War, pandemics, and environmental disasters forced the ruling elites to escape Earth and settle on Kelper 209. This distant planet provided them with everything they needed to survive. Now, some two hundred years later, they’re hoping the situation back home has changed. Blake is one of the three astronauts aboard the second scout vessel on its way to Earth. As they’re entering the atmosphere, she’s hoping not only they will succeed in their mission but also to find her father. He was in the first spaceship sent back but they lost all communication with it as soon as it landed. Will it be the same for her?
I love the original title of this movie Tides as it ties in nicely with the story. I don’t know why they went for this generic option. It’s only going to add confusion as there’s already a movie titled The Colony from 2013 with a similar story. Speaking of the story, it’s a generic one here. Add a couple of elements from different science fiction movies and sprinkle some Children of Men on top for good taste and that’s it. Out of it all, I really disliked the whole daughter-daddy vibe. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth as it’s the usual pandering to the audience. Plus, there are so many different science fiction movies with the same story that it’s just too much.
Luckily, the cast of Tides is excellent and it made up for this hastily written script. Nora Arnezeder was great as the lead and it was quite refreshing to see a female-centered story without the usual shoving gender-equality down our throats bullshit. Everything felt natural and realistic. One of the things that the movie did exceedingly well was to build up tension. The editing and music only amplified the sense that something serious and important is about to go down. All this even though it’s all mostly just melodrama. A tasteful melodrama, if I might notice.
The final piece of the puzzle that makes Tides worth watching is the bleak dystopian atmosphere. This is basically a post-apocalyptic movie but you wouldn’t know it from the visuals that accompany the atmosphere so well. The landscapes look alien and exotic like the story is taking place on some distant planet and not our Earth. This sense that humanity is lost and we’re back to our tribal survival mode is overwhelming. So, the atmosphere and the visuals carried this movie ’till the end, obscuring the generic story and lack of real drama.
Finally, if you’re looking for more similar movies, I recommend you check out Das letzte Land, Hell, Dante 01 and Cargo. All of them are European science fiction movies with a similar vibe well worth your time. You can also check out Okja, a cute dystopian Netflix production.
Director: Tim Fehlbaum
Writer: Tim Fehlbaum, Mariko Minoguchi, Jo Rogers, Tim Trachte
Cast: Nora Arnezeder, Sarah-Sofie Boussnina, Iain Glen, Sope Dirisu, Joel Basman, Sebastian Roché, Hong Indira Rieck
Fun Facts: The film had its worldwide premiere at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival.