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The Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour, The (2011) Movie Poster
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  •  USA / Russia  •    •  89m  •    •  Directed by: Chris Gorak.  •  Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman, Veronika Vernadskaya, Dato Bakhtadze, Yuriy Kutsenko, Nikolay Efremov, Georgiy Gromov, Artur Smolyaninov, Anna Rudakova, Pyotr Fyodorov.  •  Music by: Tyler Bates.
       The American software designers Sean and Ben travel to Moscow to sell their software to investors. However, their Swedish partner Skyler pulls a fast one on Sean and Ben, and they are out of the business. They go to a nightclub, where they meet American Natalie and Australian Anne and they flirt with the girls and see Skyler in the club. Out of the blue, the population is surprised by lights, which they mistake for natural phenomena. But soon, they learn that the lights are aliens invading Earth and using power supply to annihilate mankind. Sean, Ben, Natalie, Anne and Skyler hide in the kitchen and when they leave the place, they seek out survivors on the street. Are they the last people on Earth?

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Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
Image from: Darkest Hour, The (2011)
There is a scene in The Darkest Hour pretty early on that shows Emile Hirsch's Sean and Olivia Thirlby's Natalie in a mall, trying to attract aliens. In the mix of all the camaraderie and paranoia, both stop in two different stores to get dressed, across the way from each other. As Natalie strips (but her bra remains on), Sean stares at her idly and is seemingly entranced by her beauty and his voyeurism. My question; did Hirsch learn anything from his experiences of spying from The Girl Next Door? The Darkest Hour plays like a mock-buster from the company Asylum, that, every year, releases dozens of goofy, hack-brained features lampooning more successful films. They take Transformers and make Transmorphers, take Thor and make it Almighty Thor hoping some naive consumer will buy it expecting the one that went theatrical, and take High School Musical and make it Sunday School Musical. Tell me I'm witty.

While the film does have its share of questions and obscure points, it is all together cheery, innocuous, if a tad goofy, and somewhat sufficient for the least demanding sci-fi fan. The story revolves around Sean (Hirsch) and Ben (Minghella), two social networking creators hoping to score big money in Moscow by hopefully selling it to an entrepreneur. When they discover a their business partner Skyler (Kinnaman) has already sold the idea as a knockoff to other investors, depressed and out of ideas, they go to a nightclub where they run into Natalie (Thirlby) and Anne (Taylor), two girls touring Moscow as well.

They drink, they party, but it isn't long before the lights go out, and they discover a terrifying light show is taking place outside. Ominous clouds form, and some of the bright orange fixtures find their way to surface and the group discovers that if you come to close to the light forms, they will immediately turn you into ash and you will disintegrate in record time.

Sean, Ben, Natalie, Anne, and the hastily-welcomed Skyler, hide out in the nightclub's kitchen for several days before vacating the area to discover that most of Moscow is in ruins and that almost all the civilians are dead. They too realize that those light fixtures are actually invisible aliens here to do god-knows-what with our planet. They are attracted by light, and whenever they are near, streetlights and other near by electrical sources begin to start up. When we see from their point-of-view, where everything is a grayish-white except for the body heat of humans, I was distinctly reminded of Tremors 2: Aftershocks, where the Graboids quickly turned into heat-seeking Shriekers that hunted using a rising part of their heads.

There's the plot, take it or leave it. The effects themselves aren't bad, but more of a B-movie standard than theatrical. This is middle of the road sci-fi fare, not as dreadful as something on Syfy, but not clean cut and a must for the cinema. I was more impressed with the cinematography of Moscow. Technically, the film could take place anywhere in the world (probably helps too since the great Timur Bekmambetov's is credited as the main producer), but the best thing is that the film doesn't make the city out to be a rathole and unglamorous. It portrays it in a time of unfathomable catastrophe, but never feels the need to further the arrogant stereotype of "any place but America is crappy." The Darkest Hour provides efficient entertainment, although I can't exactly recommend the film. It's a bit thin on characterization and possesses a feeling of underwritten material. With that said, the film is still complimented by great cinematography, notable suspense, and without a doubt inspires some intriguing aspects to try and push along its somewhat shaky premise.

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor, Max Minghella, and Joel Kinnaman.


Review by Steve Pulaski from the Internet Movie Database.

 

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