THE DARKEST HOUR
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
One of the Christmas releases that seemed to be sneaked into the theaters a few months ago was the Russian survival tale “The Darkest Hour.” It’s a film about a group of twentysomethings in Moscow who face an unexpected alien invasion. After invisible aliens land and start laying waste to the city, they hide out for several days before trying to make their way to find other survivors.
There is very little special about “The Darkest Hour” aside from some decent special effects and a presentation in 3D that is better than most movies with higher budgets. But the glitz and gloss can’t hide the fact that this is nothing more than a B-level sci-fi thriller that you might stumble across on the Syfy Channel on a Saturday afternoon.
The plot is uninspired, playing out more like backyard adventures that are made up on the fly instead of a scripted feature film. Characters are left with very little depth, so when members of the mainstable cast are fried by the invisible aliens, there’s as much emotion associated with it as when swatting a fly.
Emile Hirsh plays the hero around which the film is built, but he seems woefully out of his depth, clearly peaking his career with “Speed Racer” four years ago. His character is a bit of a maverick, but he comes across as a know-it-all punk rather than a man who is stepping up to the challenge as a leader. He comes up with inexplicable knowledge that still makes him sound like a high school kid in detention, and any successful military strategy is lost in his delivery.
With all this said, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy “The Darkest Hour” to a certain degree. It’s true mindless trash, but it’s fun mindless trash. It’s also quite fascinating to watch as the production seems so much bigger and better than the film itself. I’m not ashamed to say I would watch a sequel.
For a somewhat middling movie, there are some decent special features. The 3D Blu-ray includes both the 3D and 2D versions of the film on the same disc. Bonus content includes an audio commentary as well as quite a few deleted and extended scenes. There’s also the featurette “The Darkest Hour: Visualizing the Invasion” as well as the short film “The Darkest Hour: Survivors.”