Alien invasion movies have hit a rough patch in the road of late. We had the excellent District 9, but since then we haven’t seen anything approaching that caliber. I really can’t wait for Prometheus. There are a quite a few bad things to be found in this movie. But, it’s not all bad. It mainly comes off as a lazy attempt. I hate it when a movie comes off as if it doesn’t care. If the people making it don’t care, why should the viewer? It had its entertaining moments, but just as I would start getting into it, it would hit a very rocky patch. Then it would get entertaining again, but then quickly degrade into something dumb. It just wasn’t consistent enough to keep me thoroughly engaged all the way through. I’m not going over the plot because there is really nothing to go over. Five people are stranded in Moscow when an alien’s attack. It’s that simple.
The script is by far the poorest part of the effort. Some of the dialog was cringe-worthy. Even when it worked, it didn’t work very well; it was just bad or passable. The characters’ lines are, for the most part, completely predictable throughout the film. That didn’t take me completely out of it. In fact, in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way, the predictability of the dialog became the only consistently entertaining element of the movie. I found myself in a mental game to see for how long I could continue to predict lines of dialog accurately. That part of the viewing experience was actually quite funny.
There were many scenes in The Darkest Hour that defy logic. That’s to be expected in a sci-fi movie at times, but to be “forgivable,” there has to be some element of plausibility. In this case, though, there was none. And after too many scenes of this sort, it just comes off as too much. Too often I would almost say out loud, “Did that really just happen?” Also, too many of the complications in the plot seemed completely contrived, most notably at the climax. What really bugs me is that the screenwriter, Jon Spaihts, also wrote the screenplay for Prometheus.The Darkest Hour was his first feature movie. I hope he was just warming up. The good news for Prometheus is that there were other screenwriters involved, as well. Plus, Ridley Scott won’t let it fail. There was nothing new to the plot line of The Darkest Hour. We’ve seen this story before. That part of the film didn’t bother me, though.
The acting is just fine. You aren’t going to see any great, or standout performances. But no one is bad. Everyone does a decent enough job so that the acting doesn’t take you out of the movie. Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman, and Veronika Vernadskaya make up the cast. The only ones that I had heard of before were Olivia and Max. This is not a movie that showcases their strength. Olivia is good at comedy. She was really good in Juno. Max is good in dramas, such as the role he played in The Social Network . These two were the best out of the cast. Those two actors I have wanted to see more of. Unfortunately they haven’t gotten many roles and the ones they have taken aren’t very good. I think all of the cast would have done better if the script had been better.
The special effects are a very mixed bag. The aliens are invisible for pretty much the entire time. That’s actually a good thing. You see wisps of orange to indicate their presence. This isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s still cool. When you do actually see the aliens – witch isn’t often – it looks super cheesy. I liked the action scenes. I wasn’t biting my nails from tension, but they were filmed well. The budget for this wasn’t high like say the Transformers movies. So, for a relatively low budget (especially for an alien invasion movie), I can’t fault the film too much for that. It was also nice to see this not take place in your typical alien invasion setting.
Chris Gorak directed this movie. This is only his second movie. He shoes promise, in my opinion. His first movie was Right at Your Door. I have never seen it, but I have read up on it. It’s actually considered pretty good. Gorak wrote the screenplay for that one as well as directed. The Darkest Hour’s story isn’t a big stretch from that one. I wonder why he didn’t write this one?
I have said a good amount of negative things about this movie. Even with all its problems, I didn’t hate it. Overall, as I said earlier, it comes off as a lazy effort. Many things felt rushed, or not given enough thought. Surprisingly, I never looked at my watch. I knew all of its faults, but I still was entertained for the most part. This was the epitome of a campy movie. A bit more entertainment value then this would be one of those perfect camppy movies that you would even watch again. I can’t see myself ever seeing this a second time. I feel like I could have given it a higher rating or a lower one. In the end, it was just too inconsistent – iffy; it earns my middle rating. Part of me really did want to give it half a score higher, but there are far more entertaining movies out there right now or already out.