Nyet! Nyet! “The Darkest Hour”

October 17, 2013

Oh swell, The Darkest Hour. The only reason I can think of that this movie exist is that Hollywood hates us all, and decided it would just be too difficult and time-consuming to punch us all in the face. That or some producer needs a way to launder some cash he’s been embezzling, and African conflict diamonds didn’t seem evil enough. Either way, certainly no one could have made this movie because they thought it’s good…I mean, here is a movie that asks us to plunk down what little of our hard-earned money the 1% didn’t steal out of our wallets in the middle of the night (that’s what they do, right?) to watch a couple douchetards being chased through Moscow by—(aw Jesus…)—wavy distortions. Seriously, that’s what happens in this movie. I’ve had more creative bowel movements after a bowl of tom yum goong than anything happens at any time ever in this flick.

So, um, yeah. This takes place in Moscow, where a couple of dinguses are pitching their idea for some lame-butt social networking app. Dingus #1 is the idea guy and programmer and marketing guru, and, uh, well everything else. He’s played by Max Minghella, who you might remember from The Social Network as Divya, the dude who has the same name as the hot chick in Royal Pains. Only he’s a dude, and not a hot chick (that was constant source of disappointment for me). Dingus #2 is his party-hearty wingman who just wants to make money off his talented friend and bang commie chicks. He’s played by Emile Hirsch, the wimpy emo-kid from that movie where he goes off the grid to live in the Alaskan wilderness and then gets eaten by polar bears, I think. I never saw that movie. He got eaten by polar bears, right?

Okay, so the Dingi get to Moscow just in time to see their idea jacked by that dude from The Killing who’s Swedish, but talks like he learned English from watching, like, a thousand straight hours of MTV reality shows. Well, they’re both really upset, so they go to a nightclub—because when you’re flat busted and your business model just got blown up like Death Star (either of them), the best thing to do drown your sorrows someplace where a mixed drink costs about as much as a Cadillac. While there they hook with that cute blonde chick from the first Transformers that they never brought back, and Olivia Thirlby, who, despite looking like Huma Abedin, is still the best thing about this movie.

Well, suddenly the power goes out, so everyone runs out in the street, where glowing jellyfish descend from the night sky. At first everyone’s all like, “Pretty lights! They’re wonderful!” Then the big orbs of light get all “Growr!” and begin blowing people up like Doctor Manhattan on a meth bender. So everyone freaks and runs into the club, which the space jellyfish lay waste and kill almost everybody except the Dingi, the chicks, and the pretty-fly-for-a-white-guy Swede (yeah, he was at the club—I guess there’s only one club in Moscow). Our, um…you can’t really call them heroes…humans take refuge in the club’s cellar, where the space jellyfish can’t go, because, uh, I dunno, they got bored or something. Anyway, they hole up there for a solid 72 hours, before they venture out into the cold light of day, where they find most of Moscow deserted.

So, their big plan is to make it to the American Embassy where they can, I assume, pull that whole, “I’m on American soil, and you can’t touch me! Neener neener!” routine spy movies like so much. Along the way, they discover that the space jellyfish are invisible in the daylight, so they just look all wavy, like the bar does after six Heinekens heat rising off asphalt. Wow. Cheapest. Alien. Effects. Ever. They also figure out that the wavy aliens can’t see through glass and they make lightbulbs glow when they pass by them. So the group all start wearing lightbulbs around their necks. Seriously, these are the people we’re supposed to root for.

Eventually, they make it to the Embassy, only it’s trashed worse than a concert ground after a gathering of the Juagglos. They do find a radio inside a birdcage (I don’t know, either) transmitting in Russian, and some records of dispatches from the rest of the world that has also been attacked. Oh yeah, and the Swede loses his shit and runs out to attack the wavy aliens with a rifle. That ends precisely how you think it does.

Ugh…yadda yadda…some other crap happens and they hook up with a Russian teenage chick and a crazy inventor, who built a jerry-rigged gun that can hurt the aliens (and looks like something the propmaster for Doctor Who would laugh at). Only he gets killed, and so does Dingus #1, and the cute Australian chick (who dies before she can get naked or make out with Olivia or do jumping jacks—thanks movie). And then they hook up with some Russian guerillas that wear scrap metal (like keys and license plates—they look like dudes that couldn’t make it through past the velvet rope at Bartertown).

They figure out how to rig the gun to kill the aliens, and we finally see the damn things somewhat, and…hey, remember when you played Doom on your 486 computer? They look like something from that game. Then Dingus #2 and Olivia get onboard a Russian submarine that whisks them away to safety, while they transmit to the world how to kill the aliens. And the movie ends, presumably minutes before the sub starts on fire and sinks, because that’s what Russian submarines do.

But I left some stuff out:

* Along with the group in that club’s basement is a corpse which, in three days, never seems to decompose or stink. Man, those Russians like their vodka.

* The Embassy staff wrote down their accounts in a big, bound volume like an old timey sea captain.

* We get several shots of alienovision. It’s as goofy as you’d expect.

* You know you have script problems when the dude freaking out makes the most sense: “We can’t go out there!” “The Embassy is probably destroyed, why risk our lives going there?” “We can’t go to the upper floors! We’ll be trapped!” He’s not wrong about any of those things.

* Olivia Thirlby is watchable in anything—even when she’s juking a weird incestuous vibe with David Duchovny.

* The Russian teenager speaks perfect English, including complex physics and engineering terminology. That’s gotta be one hell of a Rosetta Stone extension pack.

* Attention budding screenwriters: If the audience spends the first ten minutes of your movie checking their watches and saying aloud, “Goddamn it, why don’t the aliens invade already!” you’re doing something wrong.

*  So, the aliens can traverse the massive distances of space and launch a planet-wide attack, but glass befuddles them? Something tells me these aliens rode the same intergalactic short-bus as the ones from Signs. Probably wearing matching crash-helmets, too.

* This movie was directed by Chris Gorak, who made the equally dumb Right Outside Your Door.

* If I was given the choice between a city full of invisible, nigh-unkillable alien marauders and rescue on a Russian submarine I’d have to think long and hard about it.

So, that’s The Darkest Hour. It’d make a nice double bill with Vanishing on 7th Street for a “Horror Movies that Feature Crap-Ass Monsters Chasing Douchebag Leads and Utterly Wasted Hot Chicks” film festival. You know, for people who want absolutely no enjoyment at the movies.

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