The Darkest Hour: A Cloverfield knockoff without the edge

I initially wanted to see The Darkest Hour because I thought it had a quite similar to the 2008 hit Cloverfield which surprised me in its goodness, but ten minutes into the movie, I started to have a nagging feeling that there was something missing – something that even a seasoned actor like Emile Hirsch could not make up for.

Sean (Hirsch) and his best friend Ben (Max Mighella), two American software designers travel to Russia to sell their idea for a website but when they arrive, they get screwed over by their Swedish contact Skyler. As they drown their sorrows in alcohol, they meet two girls, Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachel Taylor) at a bar. When the power suddenly goes out throughout the city and the people gather in the streets, they notice translucent lights that they initially mistake for a natural phenomenon. However, when a police officer tries to inspect the light, he disintegrates upon touching it. Panic ensues as people begin to scramble to safety. Hours after hiding out in a basement, the five survivors surface to find the city deserted. Armed with only their wits and a few bottles of alcohol, they must figure out a way to defeat the invisible enemy who uses electrical charges to detect and destroy all lie on Earth.

My brother already warned me that this was not a great movie and this was reinforced by its poor score in imdb (only 4.9 stars), but I wanted to give the movie a fair shot and  judge for myself so I went for it. Not my best idea, I must admit.

When I said that The Darkest Hour had an uncanny similarity to Cloverfield, I was spot on. Even the scene where the people came out of the bars to investigate what caused the blackout was almost an exact replica of the Cloverfield scene. But basically, aside from the fact that Darkest Hour was not shot in shaky cam technique and therefore had more stable camera shots, this movie fell short in every aspect.

First of all, the plot was generic. End of the world, extermination of the human race, aliens who seem invulnerable to anything and a group of kids who try to weather out the catastrophe and find sanctuary in the company of other survivors. The thing was, this could have been forgivable if the script was not so darned cheesy or predictable. Understandably, Emile Hirsch, being the biggest star in the movie would be the hero, but his spark heroism and sudden brilliance was just too abrupt to be believable. His character Sean  single-handedly figured out how the aliens found humans. He thought about ways to detect their presence. He discovered that glasses shield electrical pulses that people emit to shield them from the aliens. He convinced the last vestiges of the rebellion to leave their camp (and the people they protect) to escort them to their ticket back home. And Ben, who was supposed to be the smart one, suddenly lost all his good ideas and just followed Sean blindly along. And don’t get me started on all of the stupid choices that some of these characters made throughout the movie. The movie seemed like an hour and 23 minutes of inconsistencies and questionable judgment on the part of the story and the filmmakers.

Perhaps, The Darkest Hour’s main fault was that it was not able to maintain a sense of urgency that was every present in other end of the world movies to make them really effective thrillers. Audiences don’t really find themselves scared of the often invisible creatures, making it hard to connect with the plight of the characters. People don’t really care that the entire city was annhilated because they don’t understand what motivates the creatures to hunt the humans in the first place. The main question of what do the creatures want was left to the end, where the answer was presented in a noncholant fashion proceeded by an assault on the area where the characters were.

On the upside, even amid the chaos, Russia seems like a very interesting place to visit. But all in all, The Darkest Hour did not pack enough of  a wallop to merit a recommendation. Rather, this serves as a warning for those who do not want to waste their time waiting around for the dramatic climax that never comes. I believe that the hour and a half I spent to watch this movie could be considered a dark hour as well.