Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Darkest Hour

Year: 2011
Director: Chris Gorak
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor

Plot: A group of Americans in Moscow are caught in the middle of an alien invasion.

Review: The most obvious thing that separates The Darkest Hour from other alien invasion stories is the location. We're not in New York, Washington or any place in the U.S. where these things usually happen. This time it's Moscow, which is a refreshing change.

Unfortunately, the film is terribly mediocre. Alien invasion films ought to be either action packed or suspenseful, or both if possible. The Darkest Hour is neither.

The film starts off fairly quickly with the invasion happening within the first 15 minutes. The initial attack was pretty good actually, seeing people getting vaporised into dust was cool. But then director Chris Gorak makes the mistake of not spending time on his characters, choosing instead to move them along from one alien encounter to the next. He shifts from one scene to another using a fade to black style, which makes it feel like you're watching a made for TV movie, and that's bad.

And because Gorak doesn't give his characters a chance to develop, we don't feel anything when they get killed. The cast try hard to make the film work, but they're let down half the time by the script's corny lines. Hirsch and Thirlby have some chemistry together, but they're not memorable here. The Russians on the other hand are far more interesting, like the weird science guy played by Dato Bakhtadze (he's The Butcher from Wanted, note: director Timur Bekmambetov is the producer here), the Russian teenage girl Vika (Veronika Ozerova) and the futuristic punk army dressed up in metal and foil with car doors as shields and AK47s as weapons. They add a fascinating dimension to the proceedings, but they can only do so much.

The visual effects are fairly good, especially when the aliens, who are invisible, vaporise any human that touches them. The effects take a dive however when the aliens become visible, then they start to look like characters from a cheap video game.

On the whole, The Darkest Hour feels like a half attempt at making an alien invasion movie. It feels uninspired and unexciting. It's by no means bad, it's just not good enough. (2.5/5)

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