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Movie Reviews

The Darkest Hour



Released: January 13th 2012 (UK)

Director: Chris Gorak

Stars: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby


Reviewer: Luke Walkley

Set In Moscow, The Darkest Hour follows five young people who attempt to survive against an alien race who have attacked Earth- seemingly with the intention of stealing the world’s power and minerals.

The Darkest Hour managed to pose, what this reviewer felt, was an interesting prospect. However, several minutes in to the feature, it was clear this preconception was misguided. Slowly and surely The Darkest Hour turned into nothing more than a whipping boy for continuity errors, poor acting and even worse dialogue.

Firstly we met our ‘heroes’ and I use the term loosely, Sean and Ben (Emile Hirsch and Matt Minghella) as they travel to Moscow to promote a mobile app they have designed. When they arrive they find they have been double crossed by their contact Skyler. They then find themselves drinking in a club with two young tourists Anne and Natalie, cue generic talk and all of a sudden- No power. The inquisitive club goers file out onto the street to find the sky filled with glowing balls of energy and following the disintegration of a curious Police officer it becomes clear these glowing visitors are not friendly. Thus, the story unfolds and the next 70 minutes is what I can only describe as the most mind numbing and soul destroying of my life.

As I mentioned, the concept had intrigued me and it was with an open mind I headed into this film, but from the off, it becomes a mystery how these films are rolled off the production line and end up in our cinema screens. The storyline becomes lost in its own stupidity, abandoning any sensible idea and instead choosing to neglect any kind of character development or relationship formation.

The lack of development of the main characters could be overlooked had the storyline been strong enough to divert the viewer’s attention. Instead we care little for what happens and couldn’t care less about the fates of our protagonists. Several side characters attempt to offer a humorous reprieve, a war hardy Russian soldier and a crazy old lady do nothing but infuriate the viewer further with shocking clichés and horrific one liners that fall completely flat.

The special effects were non-existant for the most part. Sure we see the occasional ball of glowing light, but other than that the extent of the special effects extends to a couple of light bulbs flickering and the deaths of random survivors. If you think firing bullets into thin air counts as action sequences then you will be thrilled to know this film has that in abundance, much in the same way as the Predator remake- Predators did. Fighting an invisible enemy has a particular drawback from an aesthetic viewpoint, the viewer having nothing to look at being the main one.

The Darkest Hour, may contain some of the shoddiest editing I have ever been unlucky enough to witness. Riddle me this- the gang take quite a while climbing a large building to reach the top floor, so long in fact that it requires a fade out and fade in shot to reveal them still climbing the stairs. fair enough it was a big building. However, when the two men decide to return to the street in order to help another survivor, we see the action through the viewpoint of a scope their female friend is holding at the top of the building in which the men previously found themselves. As the young lady looks out onto the street, the laws of time and continuity suggest it should take the men a similar length of time to reach the streets many floors below…ALAS, there they are almost instantly halfway up the street… If only they could have used their time machine to greater effect whilst fighting the invisible enemy…

The Darkest Hour has everything I despise about films contained within its extremely short running time. First of all is the 3D release, when from what I could see, the only 3D aspect was the subtitles that translated the broken Russian that is used randomly throughout the film, as everyone else seems to speak perfect English. Its unbelievably poor acting and even worse dialogue make the film more The Funniest Hour than The Darkest Hour as you find yourself constantly cracking up at the awful back and forth between the instantly forgettable characters.

It sounds like I’m being too harsh, but believe me this film has no redeeming qualities, it lowered its original certificate to become a 12a in the UK and the 3D inclusion makes it appear as nothing more than a money grabbing cash cow for the studio(Summit, which coincidentally was sold to Lionsgate on the same date as its UK release.

The Darkest Hour was certainly one of the worst film experiences I have ever had, so bad it doesn’t even deserve the customary derogatory take on its name and how it was the darkest hour of my life… Awful, plain and simple.

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