Review: THE DARKEST HOUR (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Review: THE DARKEST HOUR (2011)


When I first saw the trailer in the cinema, I admit I was quite fascinated with THE DARKEST HOUR. It's a familiar alien invasion movie that doesn't rely on the overused U.S. setting often plagued in many like-minded Hollywood genres. But it was the concept that caught me the most attention: the invisible aliens who were capable of feeding on electricity and vaporized any form of living objects into cloud of ashes. It's a cool stuff to look at, and I can imagine how fun it could it have been if done right. Unfortunately that is hardly the case, because THE DARKEST HOUR turns out to be an (almost) complete ho-hum after all.

Software engineering young duo Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) are traveling to Moscow with a huge anticipation of pitching their new social networking site to a top company. But upon arrival, their hope quickly turns sour when they find out they have been tricked by their Swedish partner Skyler (Joel Kinnaman). So the disappointed duo end up drinking their sorrows away at a local nightclub. This is where they encounter two fellow vacationing American girls Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor), and begin flirting against each other. But their night of fun are abruptly cut short when the power suddenly goes out of order. As they step outside the nightclub along with others, they discover mysterious balls of energy raining down the sky that subsequently attack whoever they try to touch or run away. Sean, Ben, Natalie, Anne and Skyler, who also coincidentally happens to be at the nightclub, manage to seek shelter in a storage room and lay low for four days long until the food supply runs out. They decide to make a run to the U.S. Embassy, hoping that they can scored an outside help but to no avail. Apparently the huge population surrounding Moscow are almost completely wiped out. Along the way, they almost nearly get killed by the invisible aliens until they manage to seek further shelter at an apartment owned by an eccentric scientist named Sergei (Dato Bakhtadze), who may have the answer to eliminate the invisible aliens, and a local girl named Vika (Veronika Ozerova). Soon they overheard that their only chance of survival is to get into the nuclear submarine which is set to take off from Moscow River.

Despite the fact that Timur Bekmambetov (the visionary Russian filmmaker behind NIGHT WATCH, DAY WATCH and WANTED) is involved in the production, don't be fooled by the marketing gimmick thinking this movie is an out-of-this-world, special-effects extravaganza. Yes, there are showy special effects throughout the movie but sadly, what you have seen in the trailer is basically shown all the best part. Chris Gorak, the director behind the critically-acclaimed but little-seen 2006's RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR, doesn't seems to bother much to make his movie as gripping as possible. I mean, at a scant 89 minutes, you would expect there will be a great sense of urgency in the movie here. But seriously, it's a butt-numbing experience that drags more often than they should. Consistent pacing is certainly out of question here.

Then there's Jon Spaihts' screenplay, who does nothing more than coming out a threadbare storyline of a typical alien invasion setting in a different scenario without even bothered to make its potentially fascinating premise something worthwhile. If that's not enough, dialogues are awfully stilted and the characters are disappointingly one-note caricatures (not even the presence of talented actor like Emile Hirsch can saves the day).

As for the technical side, the special effects in THE DARKEST HOUR are entertaining to look at first but grows tiresome at each passing time. The rest of the production values are as average as they look.

What a disappointing movie to end the year of 2011. 

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