Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: The Colony vs. This is the End, two very different takes on humanity during the apocalypse.
PremiseThe apocalypse is a popular subject for artists of all stripes. What better way to test the ideals of Hobbes and Locke than by portraying the breakdown of society itself? Once society’s structures crumble, we’ll have a true idea about human nature. The Colony, a pitch-black depiction of a snowbound future earth, takes this subject matter very seriously. The inhabitants of Colony 7, led by Briggs (Laurence Fisburne), respond to a distress call by a neighboring colony, only to find that someone—or something—has killed almost everyone inside. Chaos ensues when they try to escape, only to lead the menace back to their home. This Is the End features a bunch of famous comedians, playing themselves: “James Franco’s having a giant party,” Seth Rogen tells Jay Baruchel. Then, the biblical Rapture begins happening and Rogen, Franco, Baruchel, et al. must try not to die. Sounds like fun.Advantage: This Is the End
InsanityBoth of these films feature the loss of control over the human psyche. “Is anyone else alive?” Same (Kevin Zeggers) asks the lone survivor of the attack on Colony 5. “Define ‘alive,'” the man replies. This is how the film introduces the hunger-mad evil horde that then besieges Colony 7. In the trailer, they look fast, vicious, and somewhat cannibalistic—as if the zombies in 28 Days Later had been transported to the set of The Day After Tomorrow. (We wonder whether those exact words were used to pitch The Colony?) The insanity in This Is the End is a little more (intentionally) comical: “If I don’t fuck Michael Cera tonight, I’m going to blow my brains out,” says Mindy Kaling. Smash cut to Cera slapping Rihanna’s ass. That’s before a sinkhole opens in the front yard and Cera gets impaled by a falling pole. Also, Emma Watson hits Seth Rogen in the face with an axe handle and robs the group blind. There’s a lot going on in the trailer alone.Advantage: This Is the End
The ApocalypseThe apocalypse in The Colony is tied explicitly to global warming in the opening seconds of the trailer. The earth gets hotter because humanity burns fossil fuels, they build towers to control the weather, and then it starts snowing and does not stop. End of humanity as we know it. It seems a little strange that a global warming disaster movie wouldn’t include any of the more tangible consequences of global warming rising (rising sea levels, anyone?), but we’ll go with it. The basis for the apocalypse of This Is the End is more Biblical than scientific: people are caught in shafts of light and seem primed to ascend to heaven. This does include members of the Hollywood comedy elite (or Rihanna). The remaining inhabitants of earth must battle sinkholes, falling air conditioners, and, for some reason, a dinosaur. Advantage: This Is the End
Food, Glorious FoodConsequences of food scarcity vary in these films. In The Colony, lack of food drives men to madness, and they systematically track and slaughter groups of the more domestic humans. Noble savages, they are not. The inventory given in This Is the End (“12 bottles of water, 56 beers, 0.5 ounce Sour Diesel [weed], one ounce ‘shrooms, C[inammon] T[oast] Crunch, a Milky Way”) sounds like a pretty good party, until Emma Watson robs them blind. This drives Craig Robinson to drink, and enjoy, his own urine.Advantage: The Colony
DirectorJeff Renfroe, director of The Colony, has two other theatrical feature releases to his name, as well as three TV movies and a few series episodes. He is, by all accounts, a man that knows what he is doing behind a camera. The Colony is probably a competent thriller. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg teamed up to direct This Is the End. The two have previously collaborated on Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet, and The Watch. That’s a long track record of funny. Outside of the star-making vehicle of Superbad, the two have never had such a broad and talented cast with which to work. The result should be worth watching.Advantage: This Is the End
The VerdictWhile The Colony could have some visceral thrills and heart-pounding action sequences, This is the End should combine those with a healthy dose of laughter. While comedy trailers can often contain the only quality jokes in the entire movie, the trailer for This Is the End seems to be cherry-picking from a plethora of gags.Winner: This Is the End
Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here.