(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, dated 7 January, 2012, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/the-darkest-hour/350741.html)
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella, Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor
Director: Chris Gorak
Rating: 1 star
As if it were not enough that people tweet and post about the number of people in the queue to the restroom of the bar they’re hanging out at, two American geeks Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) think the world needs yet another social networking platform. And they pitch their idea to a Swede in Russia called Skyler – yes, he sounds and looks like a cross between a Star Trek character and a species of bird – who steals it.
Call it bad karma, irony, or poor filmmaking, but they run into each other after a showdown, along with three hot chicks they’re either hitting on or banging, in what seems to be Moscow’s only nightclub. And when the lights go out, we meet the alien invaders – usually invisible, floating thingamajigs whose design seems to be inspired by jellyfish. Perhaps to prove some kind of point, we see the world through their perspective every now and again.
So now, these two boys, who’ve thus far spent their holiday flirting with a flight attendant, hoping to run into “supermodels looking for software engineers”, and coming up with such pearls of wisdom as “No human society exists without booze or religion”, must save the world – and the three hot chicks – from these extraterrestrials, if they’re to sustain any hope of making babies.
Apparently, the movie lasts less than an hour and a half. But you wouldn’t know it, thanks to a cheesy storyline that crawls through badly-paced scenes – having wasted 20 minutes trying to get their male leads to pick up their female leads, the filmmakers blitz through 5 days of imprisonment in an evidently alien-proof room in 30 seconds. The lot seems to get into quarrels, in a nod to psychoanalysis of what happens to people living in (sealed) close quarters, and then magically return to status quo.
And what do they decide to do, after stocking up on booze and snacks? Debate over whether to head to the US embassy or Swedish embassy – naturally, bugs from outer space respect diplomatic immunity. Having established that the scourge “killed everyone” and reiterated that “there was a massacre”, the five survivors – oh, yeah, one of the hot chicks was incinerated – run around like they’re staking out mafia dons, and not weirdo aliens.
They pass their time with pop philosophy – “You don’t know who you are until something happens, and then you just react”, “Men only wear nice underwear when they think they’re going to get laid” (Okay, I made that up) – until the panic-mongers among them mess things up even further.
The only element that salvages itself is a rather nice sequence where electric poles light up threateningly. I began to pinch myself when a hirsute roly-poly and a tin soldier type on a tin horse type popped into the scheme of things. Their role is to help our world-saving dunderheads figure out that the aliens are invading the earth to steal minerals to conduct electricity.
I gave up when a nuclear submarine cropped up to fight the blobs. To symbolise this, I took off my 3D glasses and occupied myself staring at the stranger next to me, as he tried to manoeuvre his 3D glasses over his prescription ones.
The Verdict: This is a good choice of film to go to if you’re in dire need of alone time with your partner in a darkened room. No, that does not mean I got to know the stranger any better.