Monday, April 30, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: The Darkest Hour

2011, Chris Gorak (Right At Your Door) -- download

Is this going to be a new trend in alien invasion movies?  Instead of the massive floating ships of the 80s (V), 90s (Independence Day) and the 00s (District 9) we get pretty floating lights falling from the sky (Skyline) that disguise the deadly intent of the invaders?  In the typical invasion movie, the beachfront is obvious with the massive ships dropping troop carriers and enemy aliens (Battle Los Angeles) reminding us of our own wars and setting our sights on a very obvious enemy. In this movie, we have a gentle beginning full of beauty which is transformed immediately to terror when the pretty lights disintegrate a police man in a burst of dust and minimal flame.  It is strange but this movie establishes almost a monster-movie mentality as the invaders cannot be seen and are very hard to detect let alone hide from.

The novel setting of the movie gives us two American visitors to Russia having a very The Social Network like experience, seeing their "great website idea" stolen out from under them by a co-investor. That is also made stranger given Max Minghella was IN that movie.  Anywayz, this is just an excuse to get the movie to Russia, a very unfamiliar (but lovely) Russia of crowded streets of young & beautiful, pretty vistas and big shopping malls.  I am not sure why the movie was set in Russia, for it contributes little to the plot. What it does contribute is the obvious heavy handed nature of the backers as certain characters and certain situations must have been directly written by the Russian producers.  "Russians are tough, Russians are resourceful, Russians are very loyal !!" 

It was a very very B-movie of stilted dialogue, dispensable characters and scenes lifted from the cliche box of all monster & alien movies.  The inserts of the Russian supporting cast actually made it more fun as they looked like they walked out of the FPS adaptation of the movie to assist the usual weak-willed panicking characters of such movies as this.  Nothing is really, truly bad but nothing ever reaches out and establishes itself as a fresh take on the genre.  So they learn to fight back -- they always learn to fight back -- but I would have liked to something more to the typical get invaded, get devastated, learn alien motivation, learn to fight back sequence.  Still the latest version of people-go-poof attack was very well CGIed and horrifying to see, especially when we realize they will indeed kill the puppy.