“Survive the Holidays!” Not a bad tagline, but the movie has nothing to do with the holidays except the release date. Oh well, onto the point. I had two concerns while watching the preview. One, hopefully the previews didn’t show all of the disintegrating human tricks. Two, hopefully it wouldn’t be as bad as Skyline (what a nightmare). So did The Darkest Hour send 2011 off with a bang?
Sean (Emile Hirsch), and Ben (Max Minghella) land in Moscow in order to pitch a big business idea. To their surprise, they are beaten to the punch by a colleague, Skyler (Joel Kinnaman). Losing out on the deal, the two head off to do the next best thing… drink and look for women! That is where they find a pair of American girls, Natalie (Olivia Thirlby), and Anne (Rachael Taylor). Just as the flirting begins the power goes out. Everyone exits the club to witness these beautiful glowing lights coming down from the sky. Ah, so pretty, yet so dangerous!
Once the crowd gets a demonstration of what the lights can really do, the chaos begins. Everyone runs for their life, as the audience gets to see several people turn to dust by these sometimes glowing, sometimes invisible aliens. Our main characters make it safely into the basement of the club. It is here that the audience gets the first of several attempts to show how time lapses. There are quick flashes of the group in the basement, as the days appear at the bottom of the scene. I’m sorry, it did nothing but make me laugh at this ridiculousness. Just end the scene, and pick it up when they are ready to leave. The audience doesn’t need to see them eating, and arguing. There are other moments in the movie where they flash scenes advancing the characters ahead. It just didn’t work for me.
From here on out the plot is pretty standard for this type of movie. The group fights its way through Moscow looking for other survivors, and a way to fight off the aliens. There is a lot of talk about electricity, and how that affects the aliens. I have no idea if any of it makes sense to anyone, so I just rolled with it. If they say they can shoot microwave waves at the aliens, so be it. There is one scene where a few of the characters are standing there ready to fight the aliens with these makeshift guns in their hands. I really wanted to yell out, “Ghostbusters!” If you see it, you will know what I mean.
It would be easy to come out and say the acting is bad, in some cases it is, but the writers are probably more to blame. There are just some really bad lines, which are even worse when they come from some of the Russian characters. Then there are things that don’t make any sense. At one point, the characters find a radio that is in a small cage. Instead of taking it out to use it, Sean slides a stick into the cage to turn it on and off. Moments later they need to leave the room in a hurry, so Anne just opens the cage, and takes the radio. What did I miss?
Later on, they are on a boat, which eventually gets knocked over with the characters falling into the water. Most of the group comes out in one place, but one girl ends up miles away. How in the hell did she end up so far away when she knows where they are going? Oh, and the ending. It is like “well we are out of money and ideas, so this looks like a good place to stop. That’s a wrap!”
All right, let me talk about a more positive aspect of the movie, the special effects. The disintegrating human trick looks pretty nice in 3D. It’s good to see they didn’t give away all of the tricks in the previews (at least the previews I saw). The audience eventually gets to see more of what the aliens look like, which happens in a crazy special effect. Speaking of the 3D, it isn’t too bad, except there is a part where stuff explodes, and it would have been nice to see the stuff come at me.
So I probably made you think I hated the movie, and you will see it on my list of top 5 least favorite movies of 2011. Spoiler alert… it’s not on the list. Yes, it has plenty of flaws, but it isn’t as painful to watch as Skyline. Instead, I just sat, and let the movie happen, with a few chuckles at some clearly ridiculous moments of course. The special effects are good enough, and it is good to see there is a little more to the aliens then what is shown in the previews. The Darkest Hour may have sent 2011 off with more of a flicker than a bang, so I give it 2 pools of blood.