THE DARKEST HOUR (2011)
Movie Review by L.L. Soares
In a year that has given us a lot of alien invasion movies (SKYLINE and BATTLE: LOS ANGELES come most quickly to mind), THE DARKEST HOUR doesn’t have a lot of new things to say about the topic. Sure, this time, the aliens are invisible and emit electricity. They also disintegrate people into bursting clouds of ash (a cool effect that loses its charm after the third or fourth time.) But otherwise, it’s kind of a business as usual.
At least we get an interesting location this time around. Two wannabe dot.com millionaires—reckless Sean (Emile Hersch, the biggest name star here, best known for movies like 2007’s INTO THE WILD and the 2008 biopic, MILK) and uptight Ben (Max Minghella) —take a plane to Moscow to unveil their latest GPS/Facebook clone/whatever software to the Russians, and end up getting cut out the equation when the Russian company they were supposed to do business with just creates their own knock-off of the software and sends them packing. While drinking in a trendy Russian bar, the guys meet two American girls they found using their software named Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor, with an Aussie accent). While celebrating their failure, something goes wrong and the lights go out, plunging the club into darkness.
Everyone goes outside, to see hundreds of weird colored lights falling from the sky. They look pretty, and harmless enough, until one of them turns a curious cop into a pile of dust. After that, everyone is running for their lives to get away from the pretty lights that are really horrible monsters bent on taking the earth over for their own evil purposes (It turns out they want our energy supplies, of course.)
After staying in the club basement for a couple of days, the foursome (now with the addition of Joel Kinnaman as Skyler, the sleazy guy who ripped the guys off in the first place), finally decide to poke their heads out and see what happened to the world. It’s not very cheerful. They may be some of the last people alive on the planet, and go about trying to first, find their way to the American Embassy, and secondly, try to find any other survivors of the horrific invasion.
At one point they stumble upon a slightly crazy inventor named Sergei (Dato Bakhtadze), who may just have found the aliens’ weakness, and his companion, a teenage girl named Vika (Veronika Ozerova). And there are even some cool Russian survivalist types with lots of neat weapons!
While THE DARKEST HOUR isn’t a horrible movie, it’s not exactly going to hold you spellbound either. Directed by Chris Gorak (most of his previous movie credits are as an art director and he only directed one film before this one), the story is serviceable enough, but nothing great. And the acting is good enough for this sort of thing. But if you’re looking for a riveting aliens vs. humans movie, there are lots of better films you can seek out.
On top of that, this one is in 3D, which means you have pay an extra five bucks for those thick, black-framed glasses when you get your ticket. As usual for these kinds of movies, the 3D effects aren’t all that good (only a couple of scenes had any real depth to them, and one scene, where the dust of a disintegrated human fills the air, makes you wonder why they didn’t do this effect in 3D more often), and definitely aren’t worth the extra money, which means that not only do you get to sit through a mediocre science fiction film, but you get to pay more than a regular ticket price for bad 3D. What fun!
Released this past weekend on Christmas Day (don’t ask me why – I don’t have a clue), THE DARKEST HOUR comes barreling at us like a locomotive that is….running on fumes.
You would be better off letting this one go by and waiting for the next train.
© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares