Thursday, 26 January 2012



I know it's almost gone from the cinema circuits after only a few weeks, but [1] time was when a week was all you ever got and [2] it's had some terrible reviews which I genuinely don't feel were deserved. Certainly this alien Armageddon thriller is no masterpiece and it is hugely reminiscent of Skyline (which was okay but scarcely an instant classic), but it's more fun and far less thuddingly noisy than Battle Los Angeles, and rattles along efficiently enough with some impressive scenes of urban devastation in the company of some teens not quite annoying enough to have you cheering for the alien invaders.

Having been shafted in a business deal involving social networking apps, a couple of hotshot Americans are drowning their sorrows with some cute American tourists in a top Moscow nightclub when the sky lights up with countless falling shimmers of light. But these lights are actually vicious and voracious alien creatures made of pure energy, that disintegrate their prey on contact. Within a few days, all but a handful of people remain alive, including our two couples and the hateful bastard who stole their business deal: how long can they stay on the streets? How can they possibly get back home? What do these creatures want and do they have any weaknesses that can be exploited to stop them?

The Darkest Hour benefits from being set in Moscow - it makes a change to see somewhere other than America being devastated all the time (although an early sequence shows the familiar logos of Starbucks and McDonalds), it puts our heroes' friends and families out of the way, and it also places them in further difficulties as they're in a strange city where they, and we, don't know the language or even the alphabet. The effects are fine, of course, but by this time and at this level they really shouldn't be anything less than fine. If there are some questionable plot moments - one character falls into the river but needs to be rescued from the bus depot some distance inland; and surely it would be quicker if they used bicycles to get around the city - they're really pretty minor; it's a film about luminous alien energy monsters wiping out Moscow after all.

Happily, 20th Century Fox have released the film in a 2D version along with the 3D (unlike Entertainment's release of Underworld: Awakening which was 3D only, despite the extra dimension being entirely pointless and merely rendered much of the film needlessly dark). I only watched it in 2D - I'm increasingly reluctant to cough up the 3D premium unless there's a monumentally good reason for it, such as the film being directed by Martin Scorsese or Dario Argento - and in all honesty the film loses nothing by being viewed in the mere two dimensions that most other films manage with perfectly well (and of course, the two dimensions that the DVD and BluRay release will be stuck with). Timur Bekmambetov was one of the producers.


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