Saturday, 14 January 2012

Review: The Darkest Hour

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The Darkest Hour poster

The Darkest Hour
89 mins / Dir. Chris Gorak

Did you see Skyline? That's the best direct comparison I can make to The Darkest Hour, good or bad. By which I mean bad. Both films take an initial concept that should work, and manage to fuck it up spectacularly. Planetry-scaled invasion by an alien species that outranks us technologically has been getting people into the cinema since the 1950's. That said, it hasn't always worked, and this is another instance to add to that pile.

And I mean 'pile'.

The Plot: Four young adults*1 are in Moscow, (the guys for business, the girls for pleasure) when pesky aliens invade! Taking an orb-like appearance, they're here to harvest Earth's mineral resources and electricity (and that includes turning people into dust to harvest their low-level charge, too). With no power supply, and a collective IQ of less than 200, our band of heroes has to get out of the city to rendezvous with a nuclear submarine carrying a bunch or survivors. If they fail, they won't be able to survive on their own...

The Good: It's short. Less than an hour and a half, including credits. That's something. In fact, let's save more time: watch the trailer, and you've basically seen the film.

The Bad: A constant bugbear of mine, this film appears to have been scripted by someone doing a GCSE project. It's amazing that a screenplay with so many lines of heavyweight exposition*2 makes so little sense. When the cast aren't explaining plot-intricacies to each other in the way that you'd tell a five-year-old they should be using the toilet on their own, other pieces of drama defy all logic*3. "Electricity gives them away". That bit in the trailer where one of our heroes throws down a layer of bulbs to alert them to the aliens' presence? I don't know if you've ever dropped a bulb four feet onto a carpet, but throwing them 10 feet across a concrete floor isn't going to leave a lot of filaments to light up.
Similarly, our team later throw down mobile phones as warning devices, and sure enough; when the aliens are near, the ringtones all start going off! Because that's what happens when you put power through a phone, isn't it? Your phone constantly rings all the time it's switched on? No? Oh.

The Ugly: With the exception of Gosha Kutsenko, for a film set in Moscow, the Russian accents on display are shit. Joel Kinnaman just stops trying after about half an hour. And it's not 'Westernisation' at work, it's 'director not paying attention to the way his cast are speaking their lines'. The backstories for the central characters (however sparsely layered) can't change the fact that I didn't care if they lived or died. I didn't even want them to meet their pixellated doom*4, I just didn't give a shit.

In Other Words: Did you see Skyline? You'll get the same amount of enjoyment out of this, for better or worse.
By which I mean worse.


It'd be a 1, but at least the effects are competent. Used for the most pointless purpose I've seen in a long time, but used competently nonetheless.

*1 They could be teenagers, although I doubt it. It's not really mentioned per se, but I think they're meant to be early 20's or so.
*2 And not just exposition itself, but clanking great cues for it as well. "How did we find this place again?" [cue 2 minutes of irrelevant backstory which will never be referred to again].
*3 Yes, I know it's an alien-invasion film, but the plot needs to rely on internal logic, otherwise the survival or otherwise of the characters makes no sense.
*4 Also; no explanation offered as to why some victims are vaporised on contact, while others get dragged around by an electrical lasso which should, in theory, vaporise them. But doesn't. Pffft.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

No comments:

Post a Comment