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The Darkest Hour (2011)

Movie directed by Chris Gorak

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An Alien Horror Together In "Electric Dreams".....

  • Dec 27, 2011

After all the season’s festivities, I figured we should go see a film that has been released Christmas day. I mean, everyone appeared to be piling up to see Spielberg’s “War Horse” (a film I will maybe see later) so we wanted to go see a film that required little attention with a relatively small crowd; and so it was Timur Bekmambetov’s produced “The Darkest Hour” that fit the bill. Directed by Chris Gorak, the film is about another alien invasion that threatens humanity’s existence, but the good thing about it is, it does not happen in L.A. or in New York again….

Produced with an American cast and a supporting cast of Russians, the film takes us with young striving internet businessmen Sean and Ben (Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella respectively) who fly to Russia to pitch an idea for a new travel site. But when the business deal doesn’t go as they wished, the two hit a local Moscow nightclub where they meet American tourists Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor). But their evening soon turns into something horrifying as strange lights descend from the sky, reducing anything and anyone to ask upon contact. Joined by a Swedish businessman (Joel Kinnaman), the youths must emerge from their hiding spot and try to find a way out of Moscow; with the aid of the locals, they must find a way to fight back and survive….

                       Emile Hirsch in "The Darkest Hour."

                      Veronika Ozerova in "The Darkest Hour."

                      Joel Kinnaman in "The Darkest Hour."

One thing that attracted me to the film was the involvement of Russian director Timur Bekmambetov who is responsible for Hollywood hits such as “9” and “Wanted”, he had made his mark in the Russian films “Nightwatch” and “Daywatch” and so, I wanted to see what he could do with an alien invasion premise. “The Darkest Hour” does have some good intentions going for it, I liked the idea of seeing an invasion from a Russian backdrop. I guess what does happen with the film is its lack of follow through had somehow reduced the script by Leslie Bohem and M.T. Ahern into a ‘by the numbers’ kind of storytelling.

The film does start off easily enough; it has a simple set up as we get to see the Americans go about their goals and pleasure along Moscow. There have been some power outages that seemed to give off a warning, and I did see several red flags as the story seems to have already missed certain areas to develop. Ok, perhaps, this was a film that was intended to focus on a small group of folks, and director Chris Gorak does manage to grab my attention with some displays of simple light shows and special effects that somehow gave the indication that the city was being invaded. I did like the way Gorak executed the horror of an unseen enemy; Gorak makes the invaders quite visible with the way they reduced anyone to ash and how bullets proved ineffective against them. All this with some light effects that resembled the ones in “Spirits Within”, there was a ghostly menacing aura about it that gave the invaders the shadow of mystery. Yes, I enjoyed its unknown set up, until our protagonist left their hiding place…

Rachael Taylor in "The Darkest Hour." Veronika Ozerova in "The Darkest Hour."

                   Rachael Taylor and Olivia Thirlby in "The Darkest Hour."                 

I wasn’t sure what the script's intentions were from that point, I mean, I could tell that it was going for a “28 Days Later” effect as we got to see the ruins of Moscow. There are some disturbing imagery, as the aftermath of the unknown attack became visible. Having the thought of hopelessness and isolation can be an effective play for suspense, but it seems like the more we get to learn about the aliens, the less interesting the story becomes. It also hurts the screenplay when the protagonists were so underdeveloped that you could tell who would die first and who would die after, it was all a matter of “Ten Little Indians” until they hook up with some local survivors (cast made up of Russian actors Gosha Kutsenko, Veronika Ozarova, Nikolai Yefremov, Arthur Smolyaninov and Georgian actor Dato Bakhtadze) then we get to see some action that I thought would pick it up.

Then the film falters further, as the action was there but it fails to generate any feeling of suspense and intensity. It was pretty routine from there, as the group goes for the hope of being rescued or finding others to fight with. What we saw were more of the same, people reduced to ash as they tried to fight them off. I did like the idea of homemade ingenuity that seems to save the day, it was a refreshing take from the usual scientific theories and things that drive an alien invasion movie. The film’s science is pretty simple and easily understood, as with the reasons of the invasion itself; it was routine and pretty unimaginative. The 3D effects were also laughable and the film was clearly not meant for that added 'zing' (I mean a building collapsing should've looked a lot more awesome in 3D, but it didn't)

                           Max Minghella, Emile Hirsch, Joel Kinnaman, Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor in "The Darkest Hour."

                           Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella, Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor and Joel Kinnaman in "The Darkest Hour."

Round all those up and the "not-so good" acting and clichéd characters, I got exactly what I expected. A routine alien invasion movie with clichéd characterization, predictable plot and monotonous execution that I almost wished that I went to see another film in the theaters. I cannot really knock it off for being an average horror-alien-invasion flick since it was obviously meant to be as such and never meant to be anything else.  I suppose while I did not like the film, I could see how it would be a good diversion or a film to recover from the booze, food and holiday celebrations; it did not require much thought and a good film to nurse a hangover. Gosh, perhaps I shouldn't write when I am recovering from a hangover...

Rental [2 Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "The Darkest Hour 3D." Poster art for "The Darkest Hour."


An Alien Horror Movie To Recover From The 2011 Holiday Festivities.... An Alien Horror Movie To Recover From The 2011 Holiday Festivities....

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January 01, 2012
Looked like shit from the very beginning. I read the director's notes and he seems to be suffering the delusion of pretension. He really thought he was doing something new with this one. I think I'll see it someday, regardless, although I'll not invest a penny in it.
January 02, 2012
Yeah, I am sure this will play on cable real soon. There was nothing here save for it happening in Russia....it was too bad, it would have been fun to see it from the Kremlin's point of view.
December 28, 2011
I was wondering about this, great review WP.
December 28, 2011
I figured I'd give it a shot since the community is lacking a review for this one.
December 27, 2011
I guess it's a good thing you saw this to nurse your hangover as opposed to the movie "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" where you needed to pay attention and concentrate! LOL -- I don't think I would like this one much unless I was inebriated and just didn't give a darn.....LOL Love this review as usual Will!
December 27, 2011
I know, which is why we avoided War Horse. I actually went to see this after drinking and playing poker....then I went to drink again. I am amazed I was able to write a review, so I should have a disclaimer: reviewer was recovering from alcohol LOL!
December 27, 2011
You really need a disclaimer when you're on TheraFlu Will.... LMAO
December 27, 2011
excuse me....that is TheraFlu with vodka LOL!
December 27, 2011
Ooops forgot - although you did write a hysterical review a while back about the Lunchers that was only TheraFlu induced...LOL!
December 27, 2011
The voices in my head actually help me review these many movies LOL!
December 27, 2011
Hmmm-never heard about the voices before the TheraFlu and Vodka; at least they're leading you to write good things. I'm thinking I need some voices - when your head runs out of room let me borrow some. With my back pain and insomnia I tried Percocet and Valium today, but no voices yet; guess I'll have to resort to liquid stuff like you LMAO
More The Darkest Hour (2011 film) reviews
review by . December 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         If you require a reason to see The Darkest Hour, the best I can offer you is that it isn’t as bad as last year’s Skyline. But that doesn’t amount to much – it’s still pretty bad. It’s a silly, lightweight alien invasion thriller populated by stock characters that are all but overshadowed by special effects, which were obviously made with care. The dialogue is a reliable mishmash of panicked screams and cornball …
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William ()
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Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
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