If you’ve ever wandered the aisles at the video store or surfed the DVR pay-per-view options and seen a bunch of movies that you’ve never heard of, chances are John has watched them. Why? He loves movies. All kinds of movies. Good, bad, so-bad-they’re good, even the truly unwatchable ones. He mostly loves horror and science-fiction and drive-in exploitation movies that most upstanding model citizens wouldn’t dare watch. Then he writes up his thoughts so you can decide - watch, don’t watch or avoid at all costs. Sometimes he even gets to talk to the cool folks who make some of your favorite films.
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New Releases for Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Posted Apr 10, 2012 by John Allman
Updated Apr 10, 2012 at 07:58 PM
What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:
The Darkest Hour
Directed by: Chris Gorak
Run time: 89 minutes
The Lowdown: I’m completely over this annoying trend of genre movies being heralded as coming “From one of the producers of…” or “From two of the guys who went to school with the guy who wrote…”
It’s a cheap marketing ploy that’s supposed to generate confidence that if you liked Movie A, then you’re going to love this new flick because some of the same people were involved.
What it really means, sadly, is that they’ve gift-wrapped a steaming pile of crap and they’re trying to pass it off as something special, hoping that the good will you felt about that other movie will carry over.
Such is the case with “The Darkest Hour,” which is described this way on its official website: “A new thriller presented by the visionary director of WANTED.”
That visionary director would be Timur Bekmambetov, and yes, he’s done some pretty incredible work, but he should be embarrassed to have his name associated with “The Darkest Hour.”
For one, it takes a cool idea – aliens invade Earth, only this time you get to see the invasion from an exotic locale that rarely gets used, ie Moscow, Russia.
But unlike “Chernaya Molniya,” released as “Black Lightning” in the U.S. on video-on-demand, which Bekmambetov also produced, and which was actually an enjoyable Russian superhero origin story that made excellent use of its Moscow backdrop, “The Darkest Hour” does nothing with the fantastic scenery of Moscow other than treat it like any other major metropolitan area in an alien invasion/apocalyptic disaster flick.
In short, Moscow gets blowed up real good but you could substitute Des Moines, Iowa and no one would know the difference.
Another major stumbling block, and there are plenty, is the fact that the aliens in “The Darkest Hour” are cloaked inside electromagnetic force fields (I think), which renders them invisible to the naked eye. That’s right – they’re invisible, minus one scene where I think a rejected alien design from “Independence Day” is faintly visible inside its pulsing orb of energy, but it happens so fast that you can’t get a real good look at the creature.
Another major stumbling block is the casting, which parachutes two annoying American entrepreneurs into Moscow for a failed business deal that should have netted them millions. The ease with which these two idiots give up on their million-dollar deal is laughable. But that’s understandable because the Americans are Max Minghella (he of zero charisma) and Emile Hirsch, who pole vaults well ahead of Shia LeBeouf to the top of the list of douchey young actors you can’t stand to watch. I actually was rooting for the invisible aliens to kill them both before the film was halfway through.
Why? Well, I’m glad you asked, so I’ll tell you.
“The Darkest Hour” is that it’s the type of bad sci-fi film where a character suddenly makes a major breakthrough about the threat they’re facing and you know that there’s absolutely no way they are smart enough to have come to that reasonable conclusion (other than someone had to have the epiphany or else the movie would just end with the aliens winning and subletting whole continents as vacation resorts for other extraterrestrial species.)
The last major gripe with “The Darkest Hour” is the disrespect with which it treats genre fans. How many times do we have to watch an alien invasion movie where the main heroes, outgunned and seconds from certain death, suddenly stumble across something that helps turn the tide?
In this case, the Americans find a group of Russian militia guys who just happen to speak English and immediately agree to help a bunch of stupid foreigners whom they would completely disregard in real life.
And, of course, Hirsch gets to be the hero and he gets to make incredibly stupid pronouncements about leading the resistance and taking the Earth back one country at a time.
That’s actually how “The Darkest Hour” ends, with Hirsch informing everyone, that he has discovered the key to fighting back against the invisible aliens and their electromagnetic force fields.
The hubris of the film, to actually position itself for a sequel, is worse than offensive. It’s hysterical given how bad this first film is.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yeah, but the hotness is overshadowed by the ridiculousness.
Nudity – No.
Gore – No.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Invisible aliens from outer space.
Buy/Rent – Neither.
Blu-Ray Bonus Features – Director’s commentary, deleted scenes, featurette and a new, short film, “The Darkest Hour: Survivors.”
On the Web – http://www.darkesthourmovie.com/
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