[Screen It]


(2011) (Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby) (PG-13)

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Sci-Fi/Horror: Various people end up stranded in Moscow and must contend with alien beings that are attacking Earth for its power supply and vaporize anyone who gets in their way.
Sean (EMILIE HIRSCH) and Ben (MAX MINGHELLA) and lifelong friends and business partners who've arrived in Moscow with an idea for creating a social travel website. They're to meet Swedish businessman Skyler (JOEL KINNAMAN), but upon their arrival, they learn that he's stolen their idea. To drown their sorrows, they head off to a local bar where they end up meeting American tourists Anne (RACHEL TAYLOR) and Natalie (OLIVIA THIRLBY). After a few drinks together, the lights go out and they head outside with everyone else.

There, they see strange electrical orbs of light descending from the sky. They quickly realize it's some sort of invasion as the invisible aliens soon vaporize most everyone in sight. Sean, Ben, Anne, Natalie and Skyler end up hiding in a storage room in the bar for several days before venturing out. Their plan is to make it across the otherwise empty city to the American embassy, but must avoid the aliens whose presence can only be detected by the brief activation of any electrical devices they pass by such as street lights or car headlights.

On their journey, they meet Russian teenager Vika (VERONIKA OZEROVA) who's staying with Russian engineer Sergei (DATO BAKHTADZE). He's wrapped his apartment in metal bars, chains and such, all of which shield their human electrical fields from the invaders. He's also created a microwave gun that he believes will disrupt the electrical energy of the creatures. That comes in handy when the group later meets up with Russian soldier Matvei (GOSHA KUTSENKO) who's determined not to go down without a fight.

Learning there's a nuclear submarine nearby that's preparing to leave the city, the various survivors try to make their way to that, all while avoiding the aliens.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

I'm always amazed by how much most everyone on Earth -- and particularly those in the U.S. -- relies on electricity, especially considering our now near total dependence on electronic gadgets and even the simplest of things such as lighting. In "The Darkest Hour," the after-effects of the removal of that commodity are at the core of the story. Oh, and that extraterrestrials have attacked Earth for that power and are vaporizing most everyone in sight.

What we have here is your standard disaster film as melded to a sci-fi story where a handful of survivors must deal with their world being turned upside down. Considering the commercials for this film pretty much only showed the effects of people being vaporized, it's no surprise that the rest of it is, well, quite underwhelming. With mediocre to poor acting, not particularly good writing (especially in terms of dialogue), and substandard direction, the film leaves a lot to be desired. Heck, even the special effects aren't that special, and the 3D is barely used at all.

At least with no power, one wouldn't have to sit through this in a dark theater or at home on TV where it will otherwise become the sort of throwaway junk filler stations use to pad their programming. "The Darkest Hour" rates as a 2 out of 10.

Reviewed December 25, 2011 / Posted December 25, 2011

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