Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Darkest Hour 3D

Through An Hourglass Darkly

The Darkest Hour 3D 201 USA/Russia
Directed by Chris Gorak
Screening at UK cinemas.

Warning: Dark spoilers reside in this Farraday cage of a review.

Um... the trailer for this movie looked like a rip roaring, sci-fi alien invasion adventure... the only downside being that it was in 3D. I figured that if the producer was the guy behind the sadly inappropriately adapted but visually spectacular Nightwatch and Daywatch movies, however, then this would be worth my while checking out. So I plonked my money down, put on the dreaded 3D glasses and waited for the high octane action spectacle to start.

Hmmm... what can I say about this one then. Well, it got off to a good start in the opening credits when I found out the music was by Brian Tyler who did such a great job with another recent alien invasion movie Battle: Los Angeles. So I figured at least the music was in safe hands (it was more than competent enough for this movie, that’s for sure).

And... that’s pretty much most of the good stuff in this movie then.

No, come on, I’ll be a bit more charitable because I was sorta entertained by it... just don’t want to ever have to sit through it again.

Okay... so The Darkest Hour is an alien invasion movie co-production between the US and Russia which tells the “story” of a group of teens (although quite possibly these guys n’ gals are in their twenties... just like their IQs) trying to survive the alien infested streets of Russia after a deadly and devastating “invasion” night when, pretty much, invincible, invisible aliens starting wiping people out left, right and centre. They meet up with a few other survivors and attempt to avoid aliens and put up some small resistance while trying to get the Americans among the main protagonists to a waiting nuclear submarine that will take them back to their similarly devastated country so they can mount a resistance with not much in the way of anything that they can fight the aliens with (which doesn’t take massive team effort) effectively.

The film starts out setting up the American protagonists and they are, like almost all of the people you meet in this movie, either very dumb or not really worth knowing or a combination of both. As you go through the film it doesn’t take very long for it to sink in that there really is no real connection with these airheads... you really don’t care whether the aliens suck them up into fragments as they steal their living energy or not.

Now, I am being pretty harsh here but it’s not unfounded. I’ll go ahead and say that the special effects, not something I would normally mention (because I really don’t care about how good or bad the special effects in a movie are... they aren’t really important to the appreciation of a good film... which this isn’t) are actually quite competent and some of the suspense sequences actually do work very well.

The aliens are all fine too...with one or two inconsistencies in the internal logic of the film. For instance, when an alien touches you, you’re dead. You instantly get sucked in and crumbled into dust... unless you happen to be one of the main protagonists. If you are a main protagonist then the mere touch of an alien is not enough to crumble you... they can pull you around this way and that while your friends try to save you when this happens so as to string out the suspense, it turns out.

Okay... so did I mention this movie was dumb? I’ve not seen the Twilight movies or read the novels but I suspect that this movie is aimed at the same teenage audience and the producers of this movie must have taken that as a green light to wantonly disregard any signs of intelligent life in their audience and just make the rules up as they go along... happily contradicting themselves as they follow their movie dream. For instance, the kids hide out for the best part of a week in a small basement room until lack of “coincidentally stored” food in said room forces them back into the alien populated streets. Funny that they all have exactly the same hairstyles and a total lack of facial hair when they come out as when they went in then, isn’t it?

Another example of the extreme lack of intelligence this movie assumes in its audience is the fact that they are locking radios in Faraday cages so that the energy signal can’t be detected by the aliens. However, it seems perfectly reasonable, to the writers of this tripe, that a signal sending to the radio can get into the cage so “our heroes” can find out about the waiting submarine... an underwater shielded nuclear vessel being the only thing left on earth that can actually transmit anything after the aliens turned off all the electrics in the world on their arrival.

And that’s another thing... what about that? The aliens have wiped out all electrical devices like phones etc... except when one of the girls gets her power back on her phone at the end... she has a message waiting from her parents... um... no cell phones or radio masts or electronics of any kind, guys, remember. Script doctor! Is there a script doctor in the house?

I have to say that, while I wasn’t particularly entertained enough by this film to be rivetted by it, it was quite diverting for its short running time and a teenage audience may well get a bigger kick out of it than me. For all its inconsistencies in logic and its lack of grounded or even sympathetic characters though, I really wouldn’t want to be responsible for inflicting this on another audience member. I can’t really recommend this one and I can’t honestly say anything really good about it other than it has some competent scoring and it doesn’t get on your nerves too much, once you’ve calmed down about the inadvertent breaking of the laws of physics throughout the movie. Don’t bother with this one unless there’s absolutely nothing else to watch and lets hope that the people holding the purse strings trust this director with a better script sometime soon because, I dunno, I just got the feeling that half of the problems with this movie were not the directors fault. So fingers crossed for him.

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