April 24, 2012


Computer generated imagery has revolutionized movies, of which there’s no doubt, but one of the side effects it that it’s made spectacle boring. You can destroy anything, create fantastical creatures, and combine different takes into one without audiences noticing at the click of a button. The one thing you can’t create with a computer is a compelling story, which is why The Darkest Hour is such a dull slog. Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, and Max Minghella lead a pack of Americans who are stuck in Russia when an alien invasion hits. Our review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.

the-darkest-hour-posterSean (Hirsch) and Ben (Minghella) are headed to Russia to sell a website idea that gets poached by Skyler (Ben Kinnaman). They’re bummed about it, but they go partying and meet Natalie (Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor). And then aliens show up and they have to hide out. Of course, along the way they meet a crazy guy who’s got a weapon that hurts the aliens, and that may help them survive.

Running a scant 89 minutes, the problem with the film is that what once might have passed as spectacle now just comes across as pixels. The sight of Moscow being destroyed, wrecked planes, and mass destruction is utterly weightless. It’s hard to ooh and aah when there’s nothing practical about it, and the film would have been more impressive if we didn’t know it was just good computer work. The tricks themselves aren’t that impressive any more.

The film – directed by Chris Gorak – is also handled in a very routine way, with characters that have little motivation other than to survive. They find tools that help them deal with the alien presence, but unless your empathy extends to all living creatures, there’s not much character to latch on to, just the notion that eventually the ranks must be thinned so people can freak out some more. It’s a brain-dead movie with a cast who can do much, much better.

Summit’s Blu-ray is nice, though. The film comes in widescreen (2.35:1) and in 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. The presentation is stellar considering this was a 3-D film, and the 2-D version doesn’t suffer from too much muddiness. Extras include a commentary by director Chris Gorak, a short film spin-off to the movie called ‘Survivors’ (8 min.) a making of (12 min.) and five deleted scenes (5 min.).


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