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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 12.23.11] scifi thriller



Year: 2011
Director: Chris Gorak
Writers: Leslie Bohem, M.T. Ahern, Jon Spaihts
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 5 out of 10

It starts off with great promise: two enterprising phone app developers are heading to Russia to meet with a company about expanding their application and turning their dreams into a $10 million dollar reality but upon arrival, they discover that they've been ripped off. Despondent, they head to a local bar where they meet up with a young American and her friend. The lights go out, some strange things fall from the sky and disintegrate a police officer and after a few days of hiding out, five survivors emerge with a plan to find the American embassy.

The Darkest Hour is very smart in that rather than spending time showing the destruction of Moscow, a feat which will never meet expectation regardless of how much money you throw at it, the group, made up of Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella, Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor and the awesome Joel Kinnaman (of AMC's "The Killing" fame), re-emerge after the city is destroyed and most of its inhabitants have been killed, to make their way to the embassy where they hope to find some help. Along the way, they make some discoveries about the aliens, most notably how to fight them and what they're doing on Earth, while, of course, also meeting some other survivors.

It's not a new concept, the film shares a story trajectory with War of the Worlds among others, but the familiar tale still has potential for high entertainment value with this cast not to mention the cool alien design but The Darkest Hour never manages to rise above the "cool" factor. Part of it is the script which is ridiculously cheesy, part of it is the acting which for the most part, is bland but most of the problems are with direction and editing.

Chris Gorak, who really impressed us with the intimate end-of-world story Right at Your Door (review), fails rather miserably here. The pacing is all wrong, the action is generally uninteresting and there's zero tension. When the aliens are chasing the group through the city, there's never a feeling of dread or terror or for that matter, any feeling. After a while, it even stops being cool and the sequences start to feel long and boring and the city even loses its appeal, a real disappointment considering how well the foreign landscape is observed in the film's opening 20 minutes.



There are a few attempts at humour, most notably the home-brew scientist who develops a cool new gun that will help slow down the aliens, but most of them seem forced, and the cheesy moments Timur Bekmambetov (playing the producer role here) manages to do so well just made me shake my head in disappointment.

The trailers offer up a great looking alien invasion flick and The Darkest Hour delivers that but nothing more. There are a few enjoyable bits peppered throughout (most notably Kinnaman as the douchebag investor who just happens to end up with the group) but nothing that makes this a must see movie and certainly not necessary of the dreaded 3D. If anything, this is a forgettable flick that in a few years time we'll remember as the one with the energy ball aliens. I'll take Skyline (review) over this any day of the week.

I'm still hopeful Gorak will deliver on the promise of his feature debut but this is definitely not the movie to do it. I hope the next one is better.

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Hemulen (7 years ago) Reply

Christ if it's worse than Skyline...

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zombieja (7 years ago) Reply

I have to agree. I gave it a strong "meh". No tension, what-so-ever. I also agree with the Skyline comparison. If given a choice of which movie I had to watch a second time, I'd choose Skyline without blinking.

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masque36 (7 years ago) Reply

Just saw this afternoon, not a great scifi film by any means but ok to watch if your expectations aren't too high.


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