The Darkest Hour follows five young people who find themselves stranded in Moscow, fighting to survive a devastating alien attack. Read the review for more.
Business rating: 0.5/5 stars
Star cast: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor.
What’s Good: The visual effects in a couple of sequences.
What’s Bad: The ordinary and boring script; the insipid drama; the average performances; the unnecessary 3D.
Verdict: The Darkest Hour is a poor fare. It will flop at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: None really.
Watch or Not?: Watch only if you want to see a ‘me too’ disaster film.
Twentieth Century Fox, Bazelevs, Jacobson Company and New Regency’s The Darkest Hour is about a group of American youngsters who find themselves in the middle of an alien attack in Moscow.
Software engineer Ben (Max Minghella) and his friend, Sean (Emile Hirsch), fly to Moscow in order to pitch their online travel website to a Swedish businessman, Skyler (Joel Kinnaman). However, when they arrive in Moscow, they learn that Skyler has brazenly stolen their idea and created a similar website all by himself.
In the absence of any non-disclosure agreement, Ben and Sean are helpless and cannot take legal action against Skyler. They go to a discotheque in Moscow to drown their sorrows. At the disco, they meet two holidaying American girls, Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor). Incidentally, Skyler is also at the night club.
In the middle of the night, the power supply at the disco (in fact, in the whole of Moscow) is cut off and when the partying crowd comes out of the disco, it discovers – to its extreme horror – that strange blobs of light are falling from the sky all around the city. Soon, the revellers realise that the strange and mysterious units of energy (which are invisible most of the time) are capable of reducing people to ashes within a moment.
Panic spreads as the strange alien objects start killing people. However, Sean, Ben, Natalie and Anne manage to save themselves and find refuge in the basement of the disco. An embattled Skyler also soon joins them. The five persons spend the next few frustrating days inside the basement itself. On running out of food, they decide to make their way to the US embassy so that they can escape from the city. To their surprise, they discover that there are no people alive in Moscow. Also, there is no power supply as yet.
The group survives for the next few days after it discovers that the presence of the otherwise invisible aliens can be detected during nights by the activity they cause in the electronic and electrical devices around them. The survivors also discover that the aliens cannot detect human presence when humans are hidden behind a glass, as they ‘see’ the electromagnetic radiation of a human body, and not the body itself. Using this new-found knowledge, the group survives the next few days by shifting into a rundown mall.
But on reaching the US embassy, their hopes are dashed to the ground as the state of the embassy is just like the rest of the city. The only clues they find at the embassy are a diary which tells them about a few survivors around the world, and a radio, which broadcasts messages in the Russian language. Within moments, however, Skyler (who is too afraid to come inside the embassy for fear of the aliens), is reduced to ashes when he tries to approach an apartment which, for some strange reason, has electricity. What happens next? Do the remaining four youngsters survive? Are they able to find the other survivors? Who are the aliens and what are they doing on earth? The latter part of the film answers these questions.
The Darkest Hour Review: Script Analysis
Leslie Bohem, M.T. Ahern and Jon Spaihts’ story is ordinary and of the kind one has seen before many times (for instance, in The Book Of Eli, I Am Legend, etc.). The story writers have attempted to bring in the element of mystery by the introduction of aliens that can’t be seen, but even this falls flat on its face because of the boring story, which follows a very predictable path throughout. Spaihts’ screenplay makes matters worse by forcing upon the audience long sequences in which the survivors move across Moscow’s empty roads. Such scenes, intended to scare the audience in anticipation of what might happen next, actually have no impact at all. Why, even the coincidence of four Americans meeting in Moscow and facing tough times together seems forced, especially because the writers have failed to weave a convincing and fast-paced drama.
If the first half takes a lot of time to unfold, the latter half also tests the audience’s patience as it is riddled with many boring sequences. The climax, too, is very predictable. A sudden twist in one character’s stance in the pre-climax is surprising but unconvincing. Despite the presence of two boys and two girls, there is not even a hint of romance.
On the positive side, a few action sequences in the film are very well done, especially in the first half. The 3D is unnecessary as there are hardly any sequences which utilise the three-dimensional effects at all.
The Darkest Hour Review: Performances & Direction
Emile Hirsch does an okay job but he is let down by his wafer-thin characterisation. Olivia Thirlby looks her part and does an average job. Max Minghella is alright. Rachael Taylor disappoints. Joel Kinnaman overacts. Veronika Ozerova (as Vika) is alright. The others offer below-average support.
Chris Gorak’s direction is just about alright. He is unable to gloss over the inadequacies of the poor script in spite of all the visual effects wizardry he employs. Besides, his narrative style is nothing to talk about. Scott Kevan’s cinematography is good. The visual effects (by Timur Bekmambetov) are of a very good standard. The 3D effects, as mentioned earlier, are superfluous. The use of dark 3D glasses by the audience makes the colours on the screen look very dull. Tyler Bates’ background score is ordinary. Editing, by Priscilla Nedd-Friendly, Fernando Villena and Doobie White, is okay.
The Darkest Hour: The Last Word
On the whole, The Darkest Hour has nothing to offer to the discerning viewers or to those who like action fare. It will prove to be a flop at the Indian box-office.
The Darkest Hour Trailer
The Darkest Hour released in India on January 6, 2012, in the original English and the Hindi dubbed versions. The title of the Hindi dubbed version is Darkest Hour – Maut Ki Aandhi.