The Darkest Hour (film)
|The Darkest Hour|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Chris Gorak|
|Produced by||Tom Jacobson
|Screenplay by||Jon Spaihts|
|Story by||Leslie Bohem
|Music by||Tyler Bates|
|Editing by||Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment (US)
Twentieth Century Fox (international)
|Running time||89 minutes|
The Darkest Hour is a 2011 Russian-American science fiction thriller film directed by Chris Gorak and produced by Timur Bekmambetov. The American-based production depicts an alien invasion and stars Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella, Olivia Thirlby, Joel Kinnaman, and Rachael Taylor as a group of people caught in the invasion. The film was released on December 25, 2011 in the United States.
Americans Ben and Sean (Max Minghella and Emile Hirsch) travel to Moscow to sell their social networking/party locating software. As they approach the airport the plane short circuits due to an electrical storm but regains power. They find their Swedish business partner, Skyler (Joel Kinnaman), has betrayed them and already made a deal with the Russians, using a knockoff application. They go to a nightclub and meet Natalie (Olivia Thirlby), an attractive American and her Australian friend Anne (Rachel Taylor). Outside, they witness what appears to be an aurora. But some of the light begins to fall from the sky, landing everywhere. The lights then disappear, and when a police officer walks up to investigate he suddenly disintegrates along with many others who were near the lights. The lights are aliens protected by almost invisible force fields. They start hunting and disintegrating everyone, sending everyone into a panic.
Ben, Sean, Natalie, Anne and now Skyler hide in the club's storeroom for several days. With most of their food gone, the group plans to go to the American Embassy. On the way, they find a police car which Ben and Sean search for supplies while the others hide in a nearby mall. While searching the car, they see a barking dog that gets killed. Ben and Sean hide under the car as the alien moves closer, causing its lights and siren to turn on. The alien moves on and the guys run to the mall. Sean realizes that lights gives the aliens away. The group takes shelters in one of the stores. Sean and Natalie go to look for clothes and they almost run into an alien who can't see them through a glass wall. Sean theorizes that the aliens can only see their electrical charge, but not even through glass.
The group finds the American Embassy has been gutted. All except Skyler goes to the roof to get an aerial view. They find a logbook telling them the invasion is worldwide. They also find a radio broadcasting a message in Russian. They hear gunfire Natalie and Anne try to warn the boys an alien is approaching Skyler. The boys then find him. Two aliens approach the three. Skyler shoots the alien in front. Two aliens disintegrate him...one half per alien. When the others go outside they see a light in a nearby apartment tower and go to investigate, bringing the radio they found. They find a young woman named Vika (Veronika Vernadskaya) and a male named Sergei (Dato Bakhtadze), an electrical engineer. He made his apartment into a giant Faraday cage that hides everyone from the aliens. He also developed a microwave gun that weakens the aliens' force field so they can actually reveal and kill it. Vika and Sergei translate the message; which announces a nuclear submarine K-152 Nerpa is waiting in the Moscow River to take survivors to safety.
As Sergei shows the boys the microwave device, Vika, Natalie and Anne go to other apartments to gather supplies for the submarine journey. An alien senses them outside the Faraday cage and gives chase, but Anne hesitates following Vika and goes another way, causing Natalie to follow her back inside. When they get to the apartment, Natalie is unable to close the door and the alien gets inside. Sergei shoots the alien with his gun and finds that it is only stunned. The alien disintegrates Sergei while the others get out by the fire escape, but Anne hesitates again and is disintegrated while trying to escape. Natalie sets the apartment on fire as they climb down and meet up with Vika.
They meet up with Russian police who managed to wound an alien with conventional weapons, and Sean collects a piece of it. The police were also able to build another Faraday cage at the local library. The team eventually agree to help the remaining four to get to the submarine. The policemen believe that the aliens are strip mining for conductive metals since giant light columns can be seen drilling all over Moscow.
While moving through the subway an alien discovers them and they escape on the tracks. Vika hides behind a pillar, unable to join the others without being seen. Ben helps her climb down to the tracks, but gets disintegrated as Sean watches his best friend perish.
The survivors make it to a boat on the river, planning to travel downstream to the waiting submarine. The boat soon gets stuck and a new light beam destroys a building right next to the river, causing them to capsize and be thrown into the water. Swimming for the submarine, Sean discovers Natalie is missing. They see a flare fired from Natalie's flare gun and Sean is determined to get her, possibly missing his chance to escape. The police agrees to help him rescue her after the Russian submarine crew builds another microwave gun with stronger batteries.
Sean finds her hiding on a bus as the police and Vika destroy three more aliens using the microwave guns. As Sean is about to get off the bus with Natalie, an alien climbs on board, locks the door and sends the bus speeding around the city. It almost kills Natalie after pulling her towards it. Sean kills the alien after destroying its shield. He discovers their weakness - throwing a piece of a wounded alien he had collected earlier at the unshielded alien kills it instantly. The two manage to stop the bus back where the others are, narrowly avoiding a collision.
After returning to the submarine, the team decides to stay and fight for their city, telling the kids the war has begun. Sean, Natalie and Vika, the only three protagonists still active, plan to spread what they learned about the aliens - the microwave guns and their weakness to pieces of other dead aliens - to the rest of the world. Sean and Natalie nearly share a kiss on the submarine. They soon learn that Paris managed to destroy an alien mining tower and the film ends on a hopeful note.
- Emile Hirsch as Sean
- Olivia Thirlby as Natalie
- Max Minghella as Ben
- Rachael Taylor as Anne
- Joel Kinnaman as Skyler
- Gosha Kutsenko as Matvei
- Veronika Vernadskaya as Vika
- Dato Bakhtadze as Sergei
- Nikolay Efremov as Sasha
- Pyotr Fyodorov as Anton Batkin
- Georgiy Gromov as Boris
- Artur Smolyaninov as Yuri
- Anna Rudakova as Tess
The Darkest Hour was directed by Chris Gorak and produced by Timur Bekmambetov. While most films about alien invasions are centered in the United States or have an international scale, Bekmambetov's involvement ensured the premise to be an alien invasion from Russia's perspective.
With a production budget of US$30 million, filming with 3D cameras began in Moscow on July 18, 2010. Production used resources from the Russian-based company Bazelevs, owned by Bekmambetov. Filming was temporarily suspended three weeks later due to the 2010 Russian wildfires affecting the city and its vicinity with its smog. By September 2010, filming had resumed. In April 2011 the release date was changed to December 25 due to filming conflicts in Russia.
The Darkest Hour was released on December 25, 2011 in the US in 2D, 3D and RealD 3D. The DVD release date was April 10, 2012 by Summit Entertainment. It was released January 13 in the UK with the DVD release on May 21.
The film was criticized for having a "flatlining screenplay and the absence of even a single compelling character" as well as for being "a depressing failure of imagination". Budd Wilkins writing for Slant magazine called it "a dimwitted 3D sci-fi travesty" and complained, "Indifferently structured, Jon Spaihts's lame-brained script knows no narrative contrivance it doesn't love and, what's worse, blows its expositional load in the first 10 minutes, bringing together a quintet of cardboard cutout leads."
At the box office the film was a moderate success, making just over twice its $30 million budget.
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