The Darkest Hour

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The Darkest Hour
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The Darkest Hour
Action, Horror, Science Fiction
Regency Enterprises
December 25th, 2011
Release length: 1:29:00
For Christmas of 2011, Hollywood played what looked like the final big budget Action, Science Fiction thrill-ride of the year. With no real Avatar this year, one could only hope that the rather interesting effects in the promotional footage for The Darkest Hour would usher in an entertaining alien invasion film. The budget for this flick has been estimated at thirty million dollars to put out a movie just under the ninety minute mark. But, does this mean it’s an action packed visual spectacular, or just a year end flop?

The whole plot can be summed up pretty simply. Our two lead male characters, Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella), who go to Moscow to sett business individuals on a new club application and website they designed. But, when another marketing executive, Skylyer (Joel Kinnaman), fails to contact them, the two walk in on him and the others discussing a similar concept pirated from their idea. From there, the two drown their sorrows in a bar and meet up with Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor) who also happen to be there from America. Soon after, beautiful lights fill the sky as the city is drained of electricity, which land to earth as they break apart, and begin their assault on humanity. This does make for a bit of a tense action scene with some interesting special effects of the creatures grabbing people and making them turn into ash. But, this sight will quickly become very boring.

After that tense Action survival scene, and the aforementioned group hides in a storage room, listening to everyone outside die at the hands of the creature, it becomes more a quest for survival than anything else, and it ends up being pretty bland. There’s a few scenes involving Skyler not wanting to escape, instead stay behind where it’s safe, but even that gets old pretty quick. The same with the slight distrust in the ranks that eventually goes away for no real reason. The characters never really show how they start to fall for each other either, other than the two girls finding them attractive from a post, but at the end it makes sense given everything the characters go through and the bond of surviving. There’s also the later introduction of Sergei (Dato Bakhtadze) who has built a cage that grounds out the natural human electrical synapsis that the aliens see in the humans, which becomes a crucial role as to why the aliens are killing them, as well as generally just being here on Earth. How he constructed it so quickly is questionable, and it’s never discussed if he was just eccentric and had it already. The character is also played in a manner similar to the Russian character Peggy from the CapitalOne credit card commercials with plenty of lines such as his exhilerated “It knocks them on their ass!” one liners which makes his character far less believable, but Vika (Veronika Ozerova), a young girl who has survived and been staying with him for safety, but doesn’t do a good job of portraying a girl who was clearly scared but trying to remain strong.

As the film proceeds, the main goals for escape change. First they try to make it to the U.S. embassy, but then learn about a submarine that will take them to safety. But they will have to go through enemy territory to reach it in time. Again, we get a bit of a tense Action segment to the film, but it’s not as fast paced, moving a bit slow to show the caution the people are using, but due to this it does get rather boring. More people die in the same manner, except we learn that these things have tentacles and it’s the touching against the main part of the body that kills them, though some deaths violate that earlier on in the film. But Sergei developed a gun to disrupt what they learn is a forcefield that makes them invisible, and when used their true form shows, a rotating ball of bone-tentacles and squid face, essentially the cosmic children of Cthulhu, but in the lamest form. Aside a big let down when it comes to the reveal of the true alien figures, the movie ends with a bit of a cliff hanger, and describes what’s going on around the world in the safety of the submarine instead of showing it, which is something you would expect to see in a film that is meant to be as “epic” a scale as this considering how the invasion is going.

But, aside all that, the chracters are just bland with no real development with them. Some just come off too over-the-top, and the aliens themselves are a let down after the first battle scene. It’s interesting the way the film takes electricity and the workings of the human body into consideration, and really the more you learn about the aliens and how they fight back is great. But there are too many elements that feel placed in there for the sake of convenience, such as Sergei, his cage, and the gun he created to break their force field. When characters die here after that initial invasion scene, you really could care less about any of them, though at the same time you do kind of want to see them survive, more out of an urge to watch them take down the aliens in their area and help start the war against them. It also feels like a lot was cut out of the film in the end, which causes most of those convenient additions to appear in the story.

The Darkest Hour really was a let down. While the movie isn’t one of the worst films you could find in the alien invasion style, but it’s also not one of the best. The aliens themselves are interesting as far as the intentions and anatomy goes, but the final product looks horrible. None of the characters really grow, and their attitudes never change outside of random dramatic shifts here and there, and even the death scenes, while nice visually at the start, are boring later. It’s also annoying to see the alien point of view is just a The Matrix influenced skin except white and eight-bit blocks instead of numbers. Overall, The Darkest Hour is just an okay film. There’s really nothing special about it, but if there’s nothing else to watch, you won’t regret seeing this one, but at the same time you won’t feel accomplished from seeing it.

Overall Score: 5.5/10

The Darkest HourPhysical review copy of this release provided by personal funds.