Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: The Darkest Hour

I have been pretty open about proclaiming Jack and Jill the worst movie of 2011.  I am obviously not alone in this assessment, as about a month ago, that Adam Sandler movie became the first movie to ever sweep the Razzies – setting a new standard for filmmaking.  For those of you who don’t know, the Razzies represent the polar opposite of the excellence that the Oscars try to recognize.  However, I now feel the exact same way I felt when Sean Penn won the Oscar for best male lead for his performance in Mystic River over Bill Murray for his in Lost in Translation.  The voters got it wrong.  Because as bad as Jack and Jill is, there is actually a movie that is worse.

That film is The Darkest Hour.  And having just looked up its domestic theatrical box office numbers ($21MM), I now know why it didn’t get the Razzy recognition that it so deserved.  It’s because no one saw it.  The movie is a low rent amalgamation of 30 Days of Night and Independence Day minus any shred of creativity and execution on the part of the filmmaker, the cast, and crew.  We all get the premise – aliens come to earth to mine the planet of something they value and along the way try to annihilate the human race.  The twist that is supposed to captivate us in this film is that they are invisible, but have an effect on electromagnetism – so an ordinary light bulb becomes the equivalent of an early warning system.  Riveted?  I thought not.

It is really hard to drum up anything good to say about this film.  It stars Emile Hirsch who has done some good work in The Girl Next Door and The Emperor’s Club, but like everything else in this film, he is a complete miss.  Olivia Thirlby stars opposite Hirsch, as a potential paramour against the backdrop of global annihilation and the best I can say about Thirlby is that from certain angles, she vaguely resembles Anne Hathaway.  As for the rest of the cast, they do nothing to distinguish themselves.  Max Minghella and Rachael Taylor are forgettable and the role of Skylar played by Joel Kinnaman could have been played equally as well by any guy from my MBA class.  Seriously.

Bad writing, plus bad direction, plus bad acting all thrown together with low rent special effects is a toxic cinematic mix.  And that is exactly what The Darkest Hour is.  There are things that can be done to mitigate the damage of such deficiencies, but not when they all come together at once.  If you have a choice between watching this movie and contracting food poisoning, take the latter.  Your stomach will recover, but the memory of this cinematic disaster could linger in the mind for a while longer.  In lieu of this film, I would recommend…pretty much anything.

Standout Performance:  Any actor who was offered a role in this film and passed on it.


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