Got tired of the dysfunctional Flixter Facebook app. Grading movies A-F. Only movies that I find interesting, but not necessarily high quality. Some blockbusters, some interesting rarities and oddities, and occasionally some turkeys.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Darkest Hour – A Series of Unfortunate Choices

The Darkest Hour (2011)           

I learnt three things from this movie: Moscow is a very good place to go night clubbing, Molotov cocktails are lying around in bus yards for teenage girls to find, and electromagnetic aliens can't see through windows (except when they can).

Two software geeks, Sean and Ben, arrive in Moscow to pitch something that is variously described as a "blog" or an "app", to a Russian investment group. At the business meeting, they discover they are double-crossed by their would-be Swedish business partner Skyler (played by Joel Kinnaman from Snabba Cash). He has stolen their blog-app-social thing and is selling it to the Russian investors on his own.

Whatever. Upset, but not disillusioned they plan to spend a night out to lick their wounds and distract themselves at a Moscow nightclub with perky female tourists Natalie and Anne. No to bad. Except, of course, that some barely visible electromagnetic creatures suddenly falls from the sky, feeding off of the world's electrical power supply.

The team manages to escape while the fireballs from outer space try to transform humanity into black slime. Our heroes get some help from a Russian inventor who makes an alien killing microwave gun. And from some badass Russian soldiers. Some of the gang survives. Somehow they discover there's a submarine leaving soon. They kill a few aliens and heads off to safety.

True, the movie does have a few interesting ideas, which prevent it from being just another apocalyptic B-grade sci-fi thriller. To be honest, I only saw this movie because of Timur Bekmambetov's the producer. One can easily guess that his name was only added to make sure more people would go and watch. Thankfully, the movie only runs at 89 minutes and doesn't waste too much time.

The idea of invisible aliens that only exist in the form of pure electrical or microwave energy isn't totally bad. The only way they can be detected is when they pass through an object powered by electricity. To bad nothing interesting is really done with the idea. Mostly it’s the compulsory flickering lights. When you can see the creatures, they resemble nothing more exciting than jellyfishes.

It’s like an Enid Blyton Famous Five story. Screaming and running, hiding, get discovered, escape (with occasional casualty) and running. Repeat. The story is moved forward by idiotic decisions made by the main characters and then more idiotic decisions made by the same characters. In the middle of the movie the script switches genres, exchanging decent survival horror for stupid resistance fighting Ghostbusters meets Mad Max style.

Hollywood complains that nobody wants to go to the movies, nobody is buying tickets, it's all the fault of file sharing, and we need more anti-piracy laws. Lemme tallya something! This film was heavily marketed, released in over 2000 theaters on Christmas Eve, and did terrible in the box office. Maybe if you had a screening process for scripts and gave creative control to directors and writers instead of a pile of producers, good, original work would be successful.

I can give some credit to The Darkest Hour for only spending fifteen minutes or so, before the aliens arrive.

Grade: F

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