The scenario of following a group of Americans in their quest to survive and retaliate against an unexpected world alien invasion would have been a good material for a big-budget blockbuster. Here in "The Darkest Hour", the filmmakers had not capitalise upon a frightening premise of having invisible alien species versus the humans and instead focused on crafting superficial genre worthy action sequences to excite and entertain at the expense of a loose script full of plot holes.
THE DARKEST HOUR follows five young people who find themselves stranded in Moscow, fighting to survive in the wake of a devastating alien attack. The 3D action thriller highlights the classic beauty of Moscow alongside mind-blowing special effects from the minds of visionary filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”, "Night Watch") and director Chris Gorak (“Right At Your Door”).
"The Darkest Hour" was directed by Chris Gorak and produced by the acclaimed Timur Bekmambetov, whom you might recall from the film adaptation of Russian novelist Sergey Lukyanenko's "Night Watch". Hailed as a visionary filmmaker, I suppose it meant that Lukyanenko's name would eventually serve as a CGI galore branding.
Indeed it was and the film was also released in 3D.
I had the opportunity to view this film in 3D, but the brightness of the picture was drastically dimmed by the 3D glasses. It severely affected my viewing experience as I highly suspect that it's an issue with the native cinema's adopted 3D system. Thus, I won't go to the extent of stating that the film had inferior visual quality. But that said, there weren't many scenes that made use of the third dimension to engage its audience.
Right from the beginning of the film, we're thrown smack into the middle of Moscow, Russia, trailing behind two young Americans trying to deal business in a foreign city. Of course, the duo would as expected remain in the city to fulfill the film's intention of negotiating through an alien invasion. The set up to the said invasion was weak and optional for the audience to skip through the first act. If you missed the first act just before the invasion, you wouldn't have missed out on anything crucial to continue the film thereafter.
Affairs got interesting initially when the invisible aliens landed upon Moscow (and presumably everywhere else). Potentially able to induce fear and anxiety within the audience, the antagonists' invisibility enabled the "more fearful of what you don't see" trait. What's more, the ability to turn humans instantly into ashes added on to the fear factor.
But the filmmakers didn't capitalise upon that and instead allowed implausibility to carry the story through hastily for the 90 minutes film. Using various scientific explanations to cover up any plot holes that they effortless made, it felt as if the audience were treated as idiots by the filmmakers at times.
Hiding behind mirrors would work against detection by the aliens, it felt like an impromptu exemption thrown in to allow the characters a lifeline to escape certain death. Upon jumping into the waters together, one would end up in the middle of a tram depot while the other would surface up from the waters. Was that any sense at all?
Despite so, I admire how the film was courageous to kill off certain characters and not adopt the "last man standing" tactic to keep affairs relatively less predictable. The five protagonists gave somewhat good superficial acting enough to keep the film going in varying degrees, less perhaps Emile Hirsch (of "Speed Racer" fame) who seemed to have invested more emotions into his character.
Much had been said and you should know by now that the only virtue gathered from a screening of "The Darkest Hour" would be to take in cityscape views of the Russian city for a change over typical major US cities.
(Preview screening courtesy of 20th Century Fox Singapore)