The Darkest Hour is an alien invasion movie that follows two other alien invasion films released to theaters in the past year. Battle: Los Angeles was released March 11 this year and met with critical indifference and only moderate financial success (it grossed $85 million dollars and cost $70 million to make). Skyline was released on November 12, 2010 and met with critical loathing and financial failure (it grossed $21 million dollars and cost $10 million to make). I personally liked Battle: Los Angeles more than Skyline, but found things to like about both of them, while still finding them to be flawed.
The Darkest Hour is coming out with very little fanfare or “push” from its distributor Summit Entertainment, other than a modest trailer and TV advertisement campaign. Its estimated budget is $44 million dollars, so one would think to be financially successful it would have to make about twice that much domestically. The trailer shows high production value and emphasizes the attractive cast and extensive sci-fi special effects. Other than the fact that our cast of characters seem to become involved in some sort of alien resistance, little else of the plot is revealed.
This is only director Chris Gorak’s second feature film. I haven’t seen his first film, the modestly budgeted 2006 thriller Right At Your Door, so I don’t have any idea what level of skill or sophistication that he might bring to this film. The screenplay is by Jon Spaihts, who has no other writing credits; but is listed as the writer of the screenplay for Ridley Scott’s upcoming science fiction film Prometheus, so we can hope that he is more than just competent.
The lead actor appears to be Emile Hirsch. The only film I’ve seen him in is Speed Racer, in which he played the title character and it certainly didn’t give him much of an opportunity to show his range as an actor. Rachael Taylor is apparently the female lead. The only film of hers I’ve seen is Transformers, in which she played one of the consulting computer geeks to the military. Her character, Maggie Madsen, seemed smart and quick witted, but she really didn’t have enough screen time to judge her as an actress. The rest of the “American” cast - Olivia Thirlby, Joel Kinnaman and Max Minghella – are all attractive young actors whose work I’ve never seen.
One thing The Darkest Hour has going for it is that it is set in and was entirely filmed in and around Moscow, Russia, which is still a location that most American audiences are not well familiar with. The set pieces – particularly the exterior shots – look outstanding, so this gives the film a “one up” on recent alien invasion films that have been very American-west-coast centric.
All of these unknowns do not bode well for The Darkest Hour being a great or even good film. Still, the trailer has a certain “gosh-wow” appeal and that just might be enough to get this sci-fi geek into the theater after the crazy that is Christmas. Watch the trailer for The Darkest Hour and judge for yourself! The Darkest Hour is being released to theaters December 23 2011.