The genius in opening a movie like The Darkest Hour on Christmas Day is that it gives somebody like me a chance to see something a little creepier, rather than all the family friendly, Spielberg-saturated, over-produced, holiday schlock.
It's clear within seconds that The Darkest Hour is a movie that's going to cut corners... practically all of them. A quick set-up with the two main characters as nightclub Web entrepreneurs (Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella) includes male bonding, trickery, deceit and scoring chicks in a hot Moscow nightclub. Then there's an electrical storm, aliens invade and we have a compilation of every cliché stolen from every end of the world, science fiction, apocalyptic, doom-and-destruction movie ever made. That's right, Darkest Hour gets no points for originality, but I had no idea how truly "suck-you-into-the-void-of-another-dimension-bad" this movie could be. The good news is that after a while it gets pretty darn laughable.
Yes, the world has come to an end, at least in Moscow, and the few survivors must journey through the city searching for help and/or a way out, battling the lightning bolt entities that float around stalking and vaporizing the remaining humans with their anatomy-exposing, thermal-heat-sensing Terminator/Predator-like scope vision. And here's where it gets funny: when the key to their demise is found, they are exposed as spider-like metallic skull demons in gyroscopes. I'm not even kidding.
DH's 3D is kind of secondary, but at least it was actually shot in Russia. And what's with director Chris Gorak coming off the heels of the critically acclaimed Right at Your Door and producer Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch and Wanted) slumming it for a movie that won't even be a sleeper hit?
This flick has people spouting really wretched dialogue stuck in a movie they can't act their way out of. Actually there is no real acting, just pretending and some over pretend more than others. Hirsch (Into the Wild/Milk) acts like it's his first movie as an adult and can't quite make the transition.
The weirdest part is how unexplained these electrical entities are. I was surprised they didn't have some half-ass '50s-era scientific explanation to all this intergalactic nonsense. Seriously, electrical charges that house metallic demon heads exterminating innocent humans?
I suppose there's no harm no foul when a generic flick like this comes out at this time of the year, with its ready-whipped apocalyptic scenario wherein heroes are born and secondary characters get vaporized. Merry Christmas to me.
The Darkest Hour
Starring Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman,
Directed by Chris Gorak