For whatever reason I’m completely down with aliens descending from the skies and messing stuff up. Even the worst received alien attack movies, say like ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ or ‘Skyline’ have received some kind words from my pen. If I owned a pen. You know what I mean. But even I have an Alien Invasion tolerance level, say like the litany of horrible Alien Invasion flicks that The Asylum or SyFy might release or something like the remake of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’. The Asylum and SyFy joints we can kind of excuse for budget and time issues, but the big studio pictures… no excuses. Today we have a new one that has pushed the Alien Invasion tolerance level to its limits with ‘The Darkest Hour’ a movie I saw in Glorious 3-D. Gee… Too bad the aliens are INVISIBLE!!! That means they exist in Zero-D. I need to start reading the synopsis before dragging my ass off to these things.
Dateline Moscow. Sam (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) are in town to present their super awesome app that’s going to make them filthy rich. I forget what it does, but I do remember thinking that there’s no way this thing is going to make them rich. Unfortunately the guy they pitched it to, some skeez named Skyler (Joel Kinnaman) has stolen their idea and is pitching it his own self. I don’t think it’s going to make him rich either, but in about five minutes money’s not going to matter a whole lot to anybody.
So Sam and Ben head off the club to drown their sorrows where they meet Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor) and get down to business of getting on down. Skyler is at the club too. Having never been to Moscow personally, I guess there’s only one club in that large city. Soon this club has more visitors in the form of invisible aliens who have not come in peace and are using their awesome powers of whatever to disintegrate Russians like they stole something.
This is bad but our five DKNY Models… it would’ve been six but Skyler had a date he had to sacrifice… have found a safe place to hide for a few days and realizing that if they stay in the basement of this club, death is inevitable, so they venture out. What they see is that Moscow is pretty much toast with no people, no electricity, thousands of
abandoned cars and invisible aliens on the hunt. Ben, the Smart Guy, gets the bright idea that if they make it to the American Embassy everything will be okay, as if these Aliens honor the Geneva Conventions or something. Guess what? They didn’t. Now what?
Well, it’s time to pick up another impossibly pretty tagalong in the tough teen Vika (Veronika Ozernova), meet a wacky Ruskie whose figured the aliens out in Sergei (Dato Bakhtadze) and then make perilous journey, along with some Russian Freedom Fighters they’ve met along the way, to a nuclear sub that is alleged to be a safe haven for all the surviving pretty people.
Not all of them will survive this harrowing journey to the sub, but they have figured these aliens out a little bit and now they aren’t so invisible anymore. When we finally get to see one, we understand why they stayed invisible. Bad CGI spinal globe aliens… not all that scary.
So I’ve already said that I enjoy Alien Invasion movies, and even this one managed to entertain me in starts and stops, but it was more in spite of itself than anything the actors or director Chris Borak managed to pull off. Aliens ruthlessly disintegrating people was cool, though in hindsight they probably didn’t need to do all of that considering what they wanted. Just assholes I guess. Electrified Aliens that you can see coming via light bulbs turning on and off was certainly an economical approach to the alien menace, I’ll give ‘em that. There’s not a lot of down time in this movie so I doubt the average watcher will be bored with it or anything like that, unless you get tired of watching people run from invisible aliens.
The challenges faced by ‘The Darkest Hour’ however are many. We could mention the two dimensional characters, despite the 3-D, who did little to bring us into their dire plight. They all fit into nice little categories though, say like the Smart Guy, the Hero Guy, and We All Gonna die Chick, but as far as people we want to see survive and begin the New Human Race… not so much. We could also mention a script that seemed better suited for a video game than a movie, like where we meet certain characters who serve a specific purpose, such as giving us a pimped out gun so we can beat the Boss at the end of level six. We could mention oddities in the story such as our characters all falling off a boat into the water, then resurfacing, but one character somehow… some way… fell off that same boat and ended up across town. How did that happen? And why do Aliens attack us for our minerals when we have plenty of planets in this quadrant, all uninhabited, which I’m sure are chock full of valuable iron ore and manganese.
We could mention all of that, but we are not. The thing that ultimately kills ‘The Darkest Hour’ is the lame-ass aliens. ‘Skyline’ might’ve been suspect, but the aliens were badass. ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ might’ve had its challenges, but the enemy was no joke. These aliens were invisible, except when they became pretty flashes of light, and when we got to the big alien reveal at the end, all was tragically lost… in glorious 3-D.
‘The Darkest Hour’ wasn’t the worst alien invasion movie we’ve seen and it did have its tense moments and a few nice action set pieces, and it was better than say The Asylum’s ‘Battle of Los Angeles’ which featured a suspended laser shooting toaster oven, but I think they were aiming for higher than that.