Tuesday, April 17, 2012

ICFR No. 3 'Darkest Hour:' Assumptions v. electric sharks!

When I walked out of "The Happening" in 2008, I promised myself that no one could ever make a movie so flat yet full of unlikeable or bland characters.
Well, "The Darkest Hour" has crushed my hopes.
As Elvis Costello once said, "I just don't know where to begin."
Sean (Emile Hirsch) is a douchebag. He and his douchey friend Ben ("The Social Network"'s Max Minghella) go to Russia to sell a cell phone app but have their dreams squandered. But who cares? They still have the money to go party it up with some girls at a bar. The girls are just as douchey. You go to a bar in Russia and order a drink and the bartender only speaks Russian. Their reaction: "Does anyone speak Russian??"
But Sean rules the group, calling his new found lady-friend a dick, later calling his best friend an asshole, etc. etc. But my biggest issue with the character is an issue with the writer as well. When the "aliens" start "attacking," Sean discovers he has the ability to make wild assumptions that just happen to be true, much to the chagrin of Ben, who play like a sidekick on an infomercial.
"Sean! You're saying these beings are sentient and are killing us on purpose?? But we are 15 minutes into the movie!......YOU'RE RIGHT! How DOES he do it folks???"
But more importantly is the twist that everyone in the film can make brilliant assumptions. As the gang of unlikeable and flat kids hang out in a basement for four days (ASSUMING they won't be found), the population of Russia is nearly wiped out, Santa Claus builds a microwave gun and another gang learns how to destroy the aliens. IN FOUR DAYS.
But we'll get there.
The movie continues to drag you through a survival story that feels sadly reminiscent of "Red Dawn" except Patrick Swayze sold you on the Reds invading. The dialogue of "The Darkest Hour" is as follows:
Sean: I'm going to make this general assumption about these aliens. Now we should go over here.
One of his friends: But, Sean... You don't know that. I'm scared and would prefer to not be stupid.
(They do said act with greatest of ease.)
That is, until the gang meets a group of Russians hiding in a building. This is where Santa Claus comes into play. Apparently he has found a way to keep them safe. He has built an elaborate gun that shoots microwaves. IN FOUR DAYS. And he must have tested it if he's so damn proud. IN THOSE SAME FOUR DAYS.
But this miracle gun only stuns the invaders. They don't want to make t too easy, plus we haven't had our heartstrings pulled yet by a semi-main character dying. We also haven't been blessed with seeing how little attachment these people have to each other.
Imagine you are in this movie and it's real for a moment. You see a loved one of any kind disintegrated in front of you. Human emotion dictates you would scream, cry, go into shock, even possibly "see red" and attack the alien with a slice pf bacon, if it was readily available. But you certainly wouldn't leave the area, mope around a bit until you receive a half hearted apology from Hirsch.
Alas, that's what we get when Anne (Rachel Taylor), the pretty blonde that just wants an English bartender, gets poofed out of our story. The gang runs, Hirsch gives her surviving friend the equivalent of a "SORRY, BRO" and we move on.
Then we get to see a gang of badasses KILLING an alien! Yay! Apparently if you keep shooting like a pissed of teen in "Modern Warfare," they will eventually blow up. While this just rips off EVERY VIDEO GAME EVER and makes the micro-gun seem useless, it at least tells us an end is in sight.
So the two groups get together and head for a submarine that will take them... well, who knows. Like a discontent teenage girl in Wisconsin, it doesn't seem to matter as long as there is some other place to go. But not before the group encounters more aliens.
But wait!! It looks as if... YES! "The Darkest Hour" is going for the Triple Crown of Bad Cinema!! They stuck the landing with unlikable characters... They wowed the judges with crazy assumptions... But now they will give you a NEW ELEMENT THAT WAS NEVER MENTIONED UNTIL IT BECAME CONVENIENT!
So, as the group makes their way for the sub, one of our alien friends wraps up Ben's leg with a tentacle-esque... tentacle! OH REALLY, says I. SUDDENLY, these aliens that are purely electrical in nature can manifest enough matter to capture a human, AND enough strength to overpower him?
Triple Crown won. Congrats.
Alright, this has gone on long enough. They reach the sub, the girl Sean likes gets lost so he throws a fit until they go get her, he takes down an alien (like all the other guys have already done; maybe now they won't make fun of him) and they get on the boat and leave. Our story ends with us thinking this group will now travel the world killing the aliens.
Which I doubt, seeing as how it lost money in theaters. Maybe sometimes Hollywood's ridiculous capitalism rules can save lives.

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