The Darkest Hour Blu-Ray Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, April 12, 2012
The Darkest Hour offers a new take on the alien invasion film with mixed results. This American-Russian co-production finds two software developers Ben (Minghella) and Sean (Hirsch) traveling to Moscow where they hope to sell their new social networking app to a group of Russian investors. However when they arrive at the meeting they find that their Swedish partner Skyler has stolen their idea and has already made a deal with the Russians. Seeking to drown their sorrows they head to a nightclub where they meet a couple of women: Natalie, an American and her Australian friend Anne.
The city suffers a total blackout and as the curious partiers head outside they see hundreds of wispy, glowing lights floating down from the sky. Then lights turn out to he a hostile race of aliens who can disintegrate a person with a mere touch, leaving behind only a pile of ash. The four, along with backstabbing business partner Skyler take refuge in a basement storeroom where they remain for a full day until its safe to venture out. However they find the city almost completely devoid of any life with ashes strewn about. Keeping an eye out for the near-invisible aliens, the group somehow must try to survive and make it out of Moscow.
The aliens in The Darkest Hour are certainly original. The glowing balls are mere shields protecting their bio-mechanical forms but this is about as far as the film goes with original ideas. In the end it falls back on plot contrivances that have been used in every alien invasion film from War of the Worlds to Independence Day, often blatantly ripping off both of those films. There’s even the Deus Ex Machina moment when they figure out how to kill the aliens. The film is muddled with confusing and contrasting uses of the aliens powers. Ben and Sean turn out to be typical film characters who are much smarter than anyone should be about an alien life form they’ve never encountered. After hiding behind a glass display in a clothing store, they determine that the aliens “see” using a kind of radar that detects a human’s electro magnetic signature. I mean, that exactly what I would have thought, too.
Yet it begs the question that if glass somehow blocks this ability then why aren’t the people who were in their cars safe at the time of the attack. As they explore the city they encounter an electrician who has covered the floors and walls of his apartment in metal grates which can somehow keep the aliens out. Later however, we learn that they are mining our planets metals which they feed on. So is metal good or bad for the aliens? I still have no idea.
The film is essentially the same scene played over and over…move to a new place, explore it, encounter aliens, and run. At no point does Director Chris Gorak stop long enough to offer anything remotely resembling character development. I mean what was the point to having the Swedish partner steal their idea only to turn around and have them all act like nothing happened. Sure, an alien invasion might tend to make you forget the rest of your problems but why toss that sub-plot in there anyway?
I mean it gets to the point when you actually start rooting for the aliens. At least a little energy is infused in the last third of the film when they meet a gung-ho group of Russian soldiers who’ve found a way to hurt the aliens. By this time though the film seems far longer than its 90 minute runtime. There was a great idea here for a new and original type of alien but the filmmakers didn’t seem to know what to do with it.
Survivors (8:09) – This is a short film sequel which shows groups of survivors coordinating a counter-attack against the aliens
Visualizing an Invasion (12:09) – Behind the scenes look at the making of the film from the concept of the aliens to special effects
Deleted Scenes with Director Commentary (4:48)
Audio Commentary with Director Chris Gorak
Mania Grade: C-
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella
Director: Chris Gorak
Writer:: Jon Spaihts
Distributor: Summitt Fox Home Entertainment
Original Year of Release: 2011
Extras: See Below