Directed by Chris Gorak. Starring Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella.
A wafer-thin premise, a limp cast and absolutely nothing by way of thrills or frights; The Darkest Hour is indeed just that for sci-fi films.
Our witless heroes Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) are partners in a doomed startup traveling to Moscow for their big meeting. But unfortunately they get conned (it’s business after all) and soon after they hit a bar and meet some pretty young American tourists (Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor) the world is attacked by glowing balls of glittery fire that disintegrate people into a magical dust. But the balls can’t see them hiding in the basement of the bar. And it can’t see them when they hide behind glass. And the balls while electromagnetically ‘frying’ all electricity on Earth, unwittingly set off light bulbs and other gadgets when they pass by. Something that tips off our frankly dope head gang of ‘survivors’ so they all carry around lightbulbs!
Is Russia the new Europe now? Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol also used it as a location. And so in The Darkest Hour, deserted Moscow roads and a barren Red Square are supposed to evoke a ghostly, eerie feel of a world without people. But then you have an old lady bricking up her windows to protect herself. Now, what about all those people at home, with windows made of glass? Did they die considering the ‘balls’ can’t see their electromagnetic ‘whatyoumacallit’ signature?
As the ‘survivors’ come out of hiding, one of the girls says, “Are they gone? Like gone, gone…?” I wonder if debut writer Jon Spaihts will survive this film and the horrible reviews the scriptwriting is getting. But alas, they are not gone and so our band of morons run about trying to avoid disintegration and you shift in your seat trying to avoid falling asleep.
The introduction of a Russian mad scientist who has developed a gun to destroy the ‘aliens’ presents an interesting turn of events but quickly turns for the worst. You see the cast have nothing, nothing to work with. Emile Hirsch trying to be the in-your-face charmer falls flat on his face. Max Minghella is bored to death (and then dies, surprisingly) and the girls are just plain irritating. Take them now, you beseech the glow balls (that ultimately have little aliens in them, cute but stupid) to take them, take them now.
Russian rebels and accents don’t really make you stand up and cheer for the humans and the age-old plot of aliens attacking to plunder Earth’s resources is just plugged in there for want of a better motive. And the finale is so utterly, disastrously anti-anti-climactic and dull that you want to tear the head off of whoever was involved in this terrifically bad movie that has started the year of for us. Let’s hope there’s a light in sci-fi soon.