Review: The Darkest Hour

daniel cohen invades Russia …

Plot: While on a business trip to Moscow, Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) connect with two young American women, as the four are suddenly entangled in an alien massacre, where the enemies feed off of electricity and kill instantly.

I think this is the closest we are ever going to get to a live action Pac-Man movie. Seriously, these little electricity alien things look like the ghosts from that video game. And they even move like them, and kill the second they touch you. We even learn later in the movie that you can stun them with a rip off of the Ghostbuster proton pack. But when you stun them, you only have seconds to actually kill them. Hey, that’s kind of like getting the glowing orb in Pac-Man, but it runs out sooner or later. Okay, I’m done with the Pac-Man references, but sadly, making those analogies is the best part about this movie.

Sometimes the score to a film doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It can really set the tone. And when the opening credits rolled for this film, the music just sounded like generic shit. Right there, I knew what I was in for. Tyler Bates composed the music, and he’s actually done some solid stuff, such as Watchmen and Super, but this was pretty bad.

Although, I guess the tone was really set in the trailer. The main characters weren’t as douchey as I thought they were going to be, but they are painfully cliché. We got the two best friends. One of them is the lazy party animal (Emile Hirsch), while the other is the hard working serious stiff (Max Minghella). Minghella has given solid performances in the past, such as The Ides Of March and The Social Network, and he’s pretty good here, but I think he can do better at this point in his career.

And then there’s Emile Hirsch. Remember this guy? Yeah, he was in Speed Racer. Remember Speed Racer…Alright, moving on. Hirsch is pretty bad in this. He’s supposed to be the more charismatic of the two, but it’s just not there. He’s the leading man in this one, and he just doesn’t have the presence to carry a movie.

We have a similar situation with the girl couple they run into. One of them is solid, the other is absolutely putrid. It’s the opposite here though. Rachael Taylor plays the wild out-going Anne, and Taylor does the most she can with her limited dialogue. Then we got Olivia Thirlby, who is just awful as the more straight-laced Natalie. She looks confused in every single shot she’s in, as her mouth gapes open awkwardly. It’s terrible. The only good thing you can say about her is that she looks like Anne Hathaway.

But even worse then the performance of Thirlby, are the special effects. Holy Moses, this is bad. The first time you see the gold electrical alien thing is like that scene in Green Lantern when the green orb takes Hal Jordan to Abin Sur’s crashed ship, but it’s fifty times worse…just horrific. And then the aliens are actually given faces later in the film, and it goes beyond silly. They took the flaming skull head from Ghost Rider, the aliens from Independence Day, the ghosts from Pac-Man, mashed all three elements together, and then ran it through an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System.

Speaking of the aliens, I won’t spoil what their ultimate purpose is for invading Earth, but trust me when I tell you that it’s one of the most recycled motivations in any alien invasion movie.

What’s even more predictable though is the order of deaths. Everybody pretty much bites the bullet based on level of importance. It’s pretty clear who the dumb decision makers are going to be, especially with one of the characters, where it’s so blatantly obvious he’s going to die, it just makes you angry that he hangs around much longer than he should.

Alright, time to get to some good things. I appreciate that the movie doesn’t waste a lot of time. The first ten minutes is some lame plot about how Sean and Ben want to expand their ‘find the coolest clubs anywhere in the world’ app. It gets to the destruction pretty quickly, and moves at a good pace. And the best thing I can say about this movie is that the second half does pick up. The way the alien’s attack is more tension filled, and there are even some good deaths despite the fact that these things pretty much just disintegrate you when you get touched.

There’s no reason to see this. There are 900 better alien/sci-fi movies out there you can Netflix. I guess if you really like watching electrical bolts kill people, then this is the movie for you. This film also violates my pet peeve of assuming you’re going to get a sequel. Come on, really? This movie! You know, with films like I Am Number Four, and even the Three Musketeers, I can see why the studio wants to at least leave the door open, but this…they knew it was never going to happen. As a filmgoer, I’m insulted they even hinted at it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 10 (Bad)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

1 COMMENT

  1. Emile Hirsch was great in The Girl Next Door but I knew he wouldnt be able to carry a horror film. I was given free passes to see this but was really glad that I had to work that day.