Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Darkest Hour (2012)

Image: 20th Century Fox

At first glance, this was not without promise. A good young cast, including Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), Olivia Thirlby (Juno), and Max Minghella (The Social Network) and the Moscow setting got us interested. But alien invasion films have been having a hard time of it lately (Skyline, Battle: LA). Would this be any different?

Dotcom entrepreneurs Sean (Hirsch) and Ben (Minghella) arrive in Moscow to sell their social networking concept. Two things screw up their plans: Firstly, it turns out they’ve been conned by their contact Skyler (Joel Kinnaman). Secondly, energy-hungry invisible aliens descend on Moscow turning people into ash. Sean, Ben, Skyler, and new friends Natalie (Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor) attempt to escape the city.

There are some nice ideas floating around The Darkest Hour, mostly to be found in the little details like the flat that’s been turned into an electrical shark cage to shield the survivors’ pulses. But the script keeps feeding the talented cast such wooden dialogue that only serves to explain what it is the characters are physically doing and what they are about to do. Hirsch carries most of this weight, with such dynamite one-liners as “We’re all freaking out. But I’m keeping my freak-out on the inside”, while Thirlby mostly gets to cower in the corner with Taylor and wait to be rescued. When characters start getting killed off we haven’t actually been given any reason to care.

Some of the scenes of deserted Moscow are quite effective and there’s an endearing low-fi aesthetic to the home-made weaponry but it doesn’t make up for the leaden script. By the time the aliens actually reveal their true faces the dodgy CGI is the least of the film’s problems.

Verdict: A promising concept is wasted in this uninspired effort.



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