Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Darkest Hour ★

Releases:  Australia 19th January,  Other Countries

Invisible aliens star in an invisible plot

'The Darkest Hour' should be renamed 'The Darkest 89 Minutes of Cinema'.  After recently watching one of the best sci-fi films of the past decade 'Attack the Block’, I believe there should be a moratorium on films involving aliens invading the planet.  We have seen the best and we don’t need anymore. 
It seems every year we must endure one of these badly plotted, poorly scripted, lamely acted disappointments (warning adverb invasion).  Last year, at the same time, we suffered 'Battle: Los Angeles' and already I’ve forgotten the story except for the image of Michelle Rodriguez toting a gun that looked too big for her.  I pray that by this time next year the image of teenagers—in high heels—running through the deserted streets of Moscow, with light bulbs strung around their necks, will also fade from memory.
Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) are in Moscow to close a phone app deal with investors.  Not only does that go terribly wrong, thanks to Skyler (Joel Kinnaman), but later that night their attempt at picking up Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor) at a nightclub is rudely interrupted by ball like lights descending from the sky.  These turn out to be invisible aliens, who within minutes, begin disintegrating people leaving a trail of very messy dust. 
Our four heroes—hear a mocking tone in those words—end up surviving by hiding in a cellar for four days, along with the arch business enemy Skyler. I pause here for a note to the scriptwriter, Jon Spaihts—if people hide in a room for four days, their hair will be messed, their clothes dirtied, men grow beards, and women tend to take their four inch high heels off.
When they finally emerge we are treated to a view of an unpopulated Moscow that is a little intriguing if we hadn’t become so worried that the film was already running amok.  The aliens, having totally devastated the city and incinerated everyone, are now patrolling looking for survivors to crisp.  At this point, the survivors decide they must get to the US embassy because, as we know, only the Americans can save the planet.  Before travelling there, they decide the most important thing is to stop at an empty shopping mall and, wait for it…get new clothes—yes, there is such a thing now as “Invasion Fashion”.
It’s in the mall where they analyse the aliens and deduce that they can see living things by their electrical impulses and, also, that the aliens light up electrical appliances when they pass.  So, they all don light bulbs as early warning alarms against alien drop-in.  Throughout the balance of the film there is much light bulb throwing.  And I fear that, as much as the producers will protest, some light bulbs may have been harmed during the filming.
The film travels on from one ridiculous idea to the next; an electrician who has created an apartment sized Faraday cage in four days; a mob of Russians riding horses and toting guns that don’t kill the aliens yet the Russians are still alive; a submarine waiting in the river for the only survivors—our heroes; microwave guns built in hours; and don’t get me started on women running around in high heels and perfect hair.
Whether the careers of these promising young actors are also harmed by first time Director Chris Gorak’s lack of any sense of creativity or logic is something that remains to be seen.  As this film will no doubt only last a few weeks on screens the actors probably thought that most people won’t see it, and they may as well take the pay cheque.
Normally in reviews my policy is to give away very little of the plot.  However, in this review for the sake of your hip pocket, I would like to share the whole plot.  They get away—fortunately the better acted characters survive (thank you Aliens for taking out the bad actors first).  In the end, they work out how to kill the aliens and you do see the little critters—think some kind of rough sketch of a spider that the special effects department forgot to run through their CGI machine.  Most of the other plot highlights I have already revealed earlier.
I do this dear filmgoer because I know you will see the trailers and think, ‘That looks really good,’ and you may say to yourself, ‘How bad can it be?’  It so bad, you will want your money back. 
You see the marketing department is tricking you with the trailer. They know you will think all those disjointed images that don’t have much story are like that because they are edited from the movie and that the movie will explain everything. Let me enlighten you with my light bulb preview knowledge, those good bits they show you make more sense than the movie and at least they are all over in a few minutes. 
So, get your popcorn and coke, and watch the YouTube trailer and then use your saved eighty-nine minutes productively.  Go to bed and read ‘War of the Worlds’.  Oh and send the twenty dollars you’ve saved to Jon Spaihts the writer, because he needs to go to scriptwriting school.


  1. Love your blunt honesty and sense of humour. Definitely one to avoid! Thank you for steering me away from it:)

  2. Thank you Jane. I have achieved my goal if even one person saves their money and doesn't encourage these silly people.

  3. Haha, scathing indeed! I like your advice to people who are tempted to see this. Donating to the 'writer' to put towards a writing course is awfully kind =D

  4. Thank you for your comment. I think even if the writer did attend a writing course it would be to no avail. Besides the ridiculous dialogue there are some common sense failure issues here. And I am not sure if you can teach common sense. I appreciate you stopping by. :)

  5. In Soviet Russia, Bad movies like this watch you!

    1. Thankyou for your for you comment. Very funny. Sorry I was late on replying too. I didn't see the comment before. :)

  6. Few things are more entertaining than a good writer mercilessly destroying somebody's substandard attempt to venture onto his or her turf (broadly speaking. Any and all forms of storytelling are close enough for this particular purpose). I enjoyed reading this, and have no intention of seeing the movie...mind you, I see very few movies, and this would never have edged out the present contenders. But it was still entertaining ^_^

    P.S. Had an inordinate amount of trouble getting this comment in, despite having a Wordpress account.

    1. AND I was still unable to get anything resembling my actual name and info in there, apparently. What gives here?

  7. First thank you so much for your comment. I have a rule that I don't review bad movies. I haven't got time to be snarky. However, after this film my husband turned to me and said, 'If you don't warn people about this, then you can't call yourself a critic.'
    And I must say, I had tremendous fun writing this. Very easy to slam something.
    On the other issue. I have problems leaving comments on Wordpress and some other places, so I use this now.

    I am sorry you had a problem. Blogger is an absolute pain. Even loading up posts takes me ages because they never look the same as they do on the preview screen. Technology!!!

    But thanks for visiting and commenting and perservering. :)