Genre: Sci-Fi / Horror
IMDB Rating: 4.9 / 10
Over the years as a young, aspiring academic (or, to put it another way, that other grad student you give all the marking to), I built up a small collection of movies fun enough to provide background entertainment to the pile of scripts that seemed to be breeding faster than I could mark, but that didn’t require my complete attention to make sense. The Darkest Hour is one of those films. Although I’m no longer stuck behind a mountain of marking, this movie is still a fun little distraction that’s best reserved for Sunday afternoons when you want to watch a movie but aren’t averse to drifting off into a comfortable nap either.
It doesn’t do anything amazing and by all accounts it isn’t an amazing movie, but as a mindless alien invasion movie that doesn’t push any boundaries it’s incredibly watchable and will keep you sufficiently entertained for 90 minutes.
Sean and Ben are best friends travelling to Russia to pitch an app that’s the unholy love child of the Facebook check-in function and Tinder. Unfortunately it would appear that their business partner has already ripped them off and sold a similar but not-similar-from-a-legal-standpoint app to the Russians instead. Depressed and running out of marker pens to hide the holes in their suits, they head off to a local Moscow club to forget their troubles.
It’s here that they meet Natalie and Anne, two women enjoying the sexual prime of their youth who just love Russia but can’t understand why the natives are so insistent on speaking Russian. Taken by Sean and Ben for their incredibly sexy ability to produce near-complete English sentences, the four strike up a conversation just as the whole world is about to go to hell in a handbasket.
Just as the party’s about to really kick into high gear the power fails entirely as what looks to be an aurora appears in the night sky; an aurora that’s slowly descending to the ground, but an aurora nonetheless. Of course it isn’t really an aurora – these are invisible aliens protected by a forcefield of electricity which keeps them invisible and allows them to disintegrate their prey on contact. And, naturally, humans (and one poor dog) are the prey.
Sean, Ben, Natalie and Anne must now work their way through the increasingly ashy streets of Moscow while avoiding alien detection in an attempt to make it back to the (in their heads) alien-banishing safety of America. To do this they will enlist the help of several crazy Russians, a cat wrapped up in fairy lights, and a lone nuclear submarine out to save humanity.
It’s a kooky plot, but it’s a fun plot.
Like the film as a whole the visuals aren’t exactly pushing the boundaries of 2011 CGI technology, but they are perfectly serviceable – a bit like the Syfy channel’s line of wonders but on a good day. Given that you don’t actually see the aliens in their full computer generated glory until much later on, the most fun thing comes from seeing a lot of humans getting disintegrated (and this is a lot of fun to watch). Second place goes to seeing the remaining humans run around from an alien’s point of view – somewhat boxier than our fleshy forms are to our own eyes, but with the added benefit of seeing electric currents. I feel that evolution really let us down on this front – being able to see other people’s electric fields would be really cool.
Entertainment in repose. I think I’ve seen this movie in its entirety maybe twice, but no less than ten times if you were to piece it all together from the times I’ve drifted off to sleep watching it. That’s not to say the movie isn’t fun to watch, because it is – it’s just that The Darkest Hour, unlike a clingy lover, is happy to let you go as far as you want with it and then let go once you’ve had your fill.
My Final Rating: 6 / 10
Buy The Darkest Hour at Amazon.com