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One Boring Apocalypse: A Review of "The Darkest Hour"

Okay, so The Darkest Hour may not technically be a horror movie, but the science fiction genre has always been a pretty closely related coun. My guess is that a lot of us horror-lovers also keep a close eye on sci-fi releases, particularly those with an alien invaon or end-of-the-world premise. My hope with this review is to save my fellow Bidites the price of a ticket to a 3D movie with a heartfelt bit of advice: DO NOT GO SEE THIS MOVIE.

The Darkest Hour

initially shows a bit of promise. Though it's hard not to immediately notice that the dialogue is a bit hamfisted, it does at least seem as if the movie intends to give us some compelling, decently developed characters. We are dropped right into the lives in progress of Sean (Emile Hirsch) and his friend and buness partner, Ben (Max Minghella), as they arrive in Moscow to pitch their idea for a new social media te to a developer. Soon, we also meet Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) an American who dropped everything and came to Moscow on a whim, apparently to help soothe a broken heart, and a couple of other characters who all seem to possess the raw essentials of characters we can enjoy taking a journey with. Unfortunately, as soon as the action of the movie gets going, character development is more or less abandoned in favor of constant running around, hiding and screaming. That might be somewhat forgivable if said running around didn't unfold in a mostly underwhelming, by-the-numbers fashion, but most of what you get here is stuff you have seen plenty of times before. There are a couple notes of originality. The threat to our characters (and by extenon, to Moscow and the world) first manifests itself as swirls of light dropping from the sky. As the characters look up at this luminous display, wondering what it is and what exactly it can do, the film does a good job of making the viewer experience the same sense of startled wonderment as the protagonists. The tenon is ratcheted up when it's discovered that people are turned into dust by the slightest contact with these strange lights, and the creatures even function a little bit differently than the monsters in most creature features do. However, that's pretty much the end of any potive observations I can make about the film.

The viewer has to wait until more than 2 quarters of the movie have passed to see what actually lurks within the swirling lights that have been killing everyone and destroying cities all over the planet, and when these things are finally unveiled, you'll likely wish they hadn't been. "Disappointed" is not a strong enough word to describe how let down I felt when I caught my first glimpse of the tiny, cheaply-rendered CGI fruit flies at the center of these swirls of light. They look like they're made out of plastic and they sound like our feathery friends from the Angry Birds game, only slightly less threatening. This is one case where a movie would definitely have been better off if it had not tried to pull the curtain ade and show us the monster. When people t through more than half of this kind of film without a clear view of the source of everyone's terror, they do not want the experience cheapened by a big reveal that only makes it harder to suspend their disbelief. If you don't have a scary alien to show us, don't show us any aliens at all! The most enjoyable part of this film was letting my imagination work on the question of what was inde the swirls of light, and once I saw it was just an annoying little hockey puck, I felt like the best thing about the movie had been stolen from me.

Another negative is the movie's acting, which is rather uneven. Emile Hirsch is usually a dependable actor, but he seems to be fading in and out of involvement with his role. Sometimes, he seems to give it his all, almost going overboard in his attempts to rescue a limp script. Other times, he seems to become regned to the fact that he's been tricked into starring in an uninspired film with mostly cardboard characters, delivering his lines with all the emotion of a burnt out employee at the DMV. Some of his castmates seem to have milar difficulty maintaining the intenty of their performances, which makes me wonder if there were certain days when director Chris Gorak mply didn't show up for filming. Dato Bakhtadze is a brief, bright light in the gloom here as Sergei, a boisterous inventor with a Christmas-light festooned cat who speaks no English and may be mankind's last, best hope. But his character is disposed of so prematurely that we never even get to find out what becomes of his crazy looking pet, and the viewer is plunged back into a morass of mediocre acting and predictable action scenes. In fact, the movie makes a habit of quickly killing off any character that begins to show a bit of complexity or originality. I guess bland characters fare better in battles against equally bland aliens.The Darkest Hour

doesn't screw anything up quite badly enough to be condered terrible, and I would probably be a little less offended by it if I hadn't paid such a ridiculous price for a 3D movie ticket. It's mply not a movie that's worth seeing if you have to pay more than a dollar for it at a Redbox. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.
ImmortalSidneyP Tuesday 1/03/2012 at 01:40 AM | 88908
thank you for confirming my suspicions; the wife wanted to check this out, and my immediate impreson was "bad straight to Sci-Fi channel flick". Sounds like I wasn't all too far off.
Matt_Molgaard Tuesday 1/03/2012 at 04:04 AM | 88916
thank you for confirming my suspicions; the wife wanted to check this out, and my immediate impreson was "bad straight to Sci-Fi channel flick". Sounds like I wasn't all too far off.

Same impreson as well!
BloodyAdored Tuesday 1/03/2012 at 04:50 AM | 88919
Both of your impresons were right. I hadn't heard a ngle thing about this when I walked into the theater. I went because my gnificant other wanted to see it. From what I can tell, it seems like even the studio behind it gave up on trying to market it.
ImmortalSidneyP Tuesday 1/03/2012 at 05:19 AM | 88920