The Darkest Hour (Rated PG13) 4 Stars
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and pronounce The Darkest Hour (89 minutes) an enjoyable little sci-fi, even though apparently everyone but me hates it. Director Chris Gorak’s freshman film was a neat little Indie flick called Right at Your Door, and if you blinked and missed its release, Netflix has that little gem. Along with Gorak, for those of you who care, this is the first screenplay credited to Prometheus writer Jon Spaihts (the Ridley Scott movie set in the Alien universe!). Not to mention that producer Timur Bekmambetov directed the original Russian version of Nightwatch!
Before we get any farther, I want to put out there what everyone was thinking about during the trailer for this movie. I don’t think this counts as a spoiler, because it is in every commercial. Filmmakers, it would be much easier to like you and celebrate your good points if you hadn’t killed the dog. Never kill the dog. Seriously. Wipe out most of humanity, gut the planet, knock down the buildings. But you heartless monsters: Do. Not. Kill the dog. Ever. I don’t even want to think about what hap-pened to Faraday kitty DJ Lance Rock.
The film takes place in Moscow, where Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) have traveled to seal the deal on some kind of dot-com startup. After a day touring the city, they wind up in a nightclub that only allows pretty people inside. Naturally, they meet the only other Americans in Moscow, Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor, who is techni-cally Australian).
Since none of them speak Russian or know their way around Moscow, when the aliens come they are immediately dispatched. Except that some-how doesn’t happen, and they wind up hiding in some kind of basement pantry. Eventually, they claim to be out of food (despite the sticks of delicious pepperoni clearly visible in the background) and decide to leave their safe haven in search of the American embassy. That works out about as well as you would expect.
For most of the search, it seems that Natalie would apparently rather walk barefoot through the bizarrely clean Russian streets than loot some Russian sneakers. I hear you Natalie! Buy American! Finally, they hole up in a mall (as you do following an apocalypse) and after a few hours of staring blankly at each other, decide to liberate some sup-plies, including some stylish black suede calf length boots for Natalie. Remember, the world might have ended, but that is no excuse to ignore fashion! Of course, it helps when your hair and make-up are designed to last for weeks without a shower.
In their travels, they discover the scientific principles of the alien defense systems, despite having no technical training whatsoever. It is good to know that in every end-of-the-world scenario, there is that one smart guy who lives just long enough to explain what is going on to the pretty young idiots, who aren’t even smart enough to remember how to hide from aliens from one scene to the next.
Finally, let’s take just a moment to ponder over the anti-intellectual theme of the movie. To put it simply, the smarter the character, the quicker they died. The entire film is a celebration of impulse and intuitiveness. Ah well, the prettiest ones lived. Overall, if you enjoyed Skyline you will like this, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.