“The Darkest Hour” is mostly a dim bulb.


The Darkest Hour” is mostly a dim bulb.      a review            SPOILER ALERT!

image from the Russian movie, "The Darkest Hour"

Cover for “The Darkest Hour”

I watched The Darkest Hour on DVD rather than in the theater.

Perhaps that’s why I feel a tad more charitable than the critics. Rather than experimenting with genre like The Cabin in the Woods, an experiment that fizzled, stinking up the lab, The Darkest Hour, a joint Russian/American production directed by Chris Gorak and starring Emile Hirsch, is a paint-by-numbers alien invasion film.

In The Darkest Hour, we watch an alien invasion from the Russian side of things.

We follow the imperiled twenty-something Americans who number among a handful of survivors. A story that highlights an alien invasion of Earth, The Darkest Hour comes when balls of light chase people down and shred them into pixie dust. Check out Night of the Comet, a much better film with red-pixie dust former people and zombie department store stock boy geeks. As they run from building to building, hiding from the x-ray vision of the light balls, the Americans (okay there’s also one Australian and a double-dealing Swede) encounter English speaking Russians.

It makes you wonder if a few more education dollars ought to be devoted to us learning more than one language.

When they encounter an old lady who shouts in Russian and tells them they’re all going to die, I was surprised to recognize a couple of words from those long ago two years of high school Russian. However, too much science knowledge while watching the light balls of The Darkest Hour would probably get in the way. When they make it to the American embassy, the survivors discover a recorded message sitting in a birdcage. Yes, I said a birdcage. The message is “There’s a Russian sub coming up the river in a few hours. Get there or be left behind.”

Next, they meet Sergei. Sergei is a plumber. In The Darkest Hour of humanity, Sergie has done what scientists and the military has failed to do.

Sergei knows how to stop or at least dim the light balls. He uses what looks like a paintball gun. However, instead of paint, it shoots microwaves. The light balls don’t like microwaves. This totally went over my head, but . . . okay. Being from the Russian point of view led to some great early scenes in Moscow, portrayed as an ultra-modern city with great nightclubs. Like here in Los Angeles, you have to look camera-ready to get in.

The Russian perspective led to lines like “Eat this Russian bullet” and “I’ll stay here (a good guy Russian cop).

My favorite is “I have all of Moscow at my back.” Russian exceptionalism. All in all, The Darkest Hour is mildly entertaining.