Go figure, I’d end 2011 with one of the worst films of the year. I saw 255 films overall, and there’s well over 200 that are superior to ‘The Darkest Hour’. The movie takes a premise with potential, a director who I thought was an up and comer, a scribe credited with work on the much anticipated 2012 release ‘Prometheus’, and a cast of strong young actors, and wastes them all spectacularly. Asininely plotted, boringly paced, and stupid beyond belief, this has to be one of the most disappointing films in some time. I was hopeful that the talent involved could do something with this, but it’s simply drivel. This is 100% going on my Bottom 10 list for 2011. There’s nothing to like about it, and worse yet, it’s not even bad enough to be looked as as a mockery. This is just a poorly executed alien invasion movie that shows multiple signs of being messed with both at the studio level during shooting and also in the editing room. Director Chris Gorak is lost when it comes to making something out of the script by Jon Spaihts (with a story credit to M.T. Ahem, Leslie Bohem, and Spaights himself). I’m a huge Emile Hirsch fan, but he’s wasted in the lead role. I just shook my head through most of this crap. There’s little else you can do when trapped in this theater with something of this level.
Sean (Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) are website designers in Moscow to debut a new type of social networking site certain to make them rich. When they find their idea stolen by Skyler (Joel Kinnaman), they retreat to a trendy bar/club to lick their wounds. There they run into Skyler again, but also fellow Americans Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor). While partying, the city of Moscow is visited by alien lifeforms. They appear invisible and made of pure energy. Anyone they come in contact with they dissolve into dust. An invasion is underway. Sean and Ben grab Natalie and Anne as well as Skyler, and make their escape. The rest of the film is their fight for survival against beings that seem to have no weakness, except that is, the light…
The actors all appear adrift without any direction at all. Emile Hirsch is one of the best young actors in the business (just see my recent Under the Circuit article for proof), but here he’s given nothing to do and mostly sleepwalks through the undemanding role. It’s interesting to see him as the hero, but the surrounding film is so poor that it really doesn’t do much for you overall. Max Minghella is the standard issue brain in this type of movie, and neither he nor the script adds anything to that. Olivia Thirlby and Rachael Taylor often simply turn into damsels in distress, but of the two Thirlby fares slightly better. As for the rest of the cast, they’re equally useless. It’s hardly an actor’s film, but they were all given the shaft in a rather big way.
I still think that Chris Gorak has a future in the industry. His debut ‘Right At Your Door’ is too good for it to be simply a fluke, but this flick inspires no confidence about his abilities. The pacing is all wrong, he strands the actors in no man’s land, and often have shots that make no sense, while wasting Russia as a setting entirely. He also has multiple endings for this confused film, and they’re all terrible. Granted, the script is atrocious, but he didn’t help things. One can only hope that Jon Spaihts will give us more with ‘Prometheus’ than he did here, since this is just dreadful.
‘The Darkest Hour’ isn’t the absolute worst of 2011, but it’s in the bottom dozen or so, and that’s not somewhere that a film ever wants to be. With how many films I saw, it’s really a badge of dishonor. There’s literally more than 240 movies that I found superior to it, including some absolute dogs. This is one to avoid folks, and I went in hoping for a good time. It’s just a real stinker of a film. Cinema in 2011 would have been better off if ‘The Darkest Hour’ had disappeared like so many of its characters.
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