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Movie Review

The Darkest Hour

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some language.

Reviewed by: Scott Brennan

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Sci-Fi Action Thriller 3D
1 hr. 29 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 25, 2011
DVD: April 10, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment

Moscow, Russia

Aliens (extraterrestrials)

What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer

Are we alone in the universe? Answer

Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer

questions and answers about the origin of life

Featuring: Emile HirschSean
Rachael Taylor … Anne
Olivia Thirlby … Natalie
Max Minghella … Ben
more »
Director: Chris Gorak
Producer: Regency Enterprises
Summit Entertainment
Bazelevs Production
more »
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

“Survive the holidays”

Everyone has their weaknesses. For this reviewer, it is the Science Fiction genre. One of my darkest hours for this Christmas-viewing-season was spending it in theater watching this film, “The Darkest Hour.” And to top it off, they got $14.50 from my wallet and made me wear 3D glasses! Please! Every time I want to believe there will be an exception in the science fiction category and that maybe this will be another “Matrix”—I get fooled. It was just like last year, when I never admitted to anyone that I went to see the film “Skyline.” I truly believed that the bottom had been reached in the genre with that film—until I saw this one.

I knew I was in trouble when I heard this line in the dialogue between Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) towards the beginning of the movie, “Every culture has alcohol and religion. That’s why I drink religiously!” It sounds like a line from a Christopher Hitchens commentary, someone Emile Hirsch greatly admires. This line is spoken inside a Moscow nightclub with cleavage-revealing-hotties peppering the backdrop, as they proceeded to use their pickup lines to get laid. In addition to the “worse than bad” dialogue that infiltrates nearly every shot are the continual and unnecessary profanities and obscenities which include several “GD’s”, frequent “OMG’s” from the valley-girl-lead-characters who keep changing from airheads to scientific geniuses, and multiple “s” and “f” words.

The plots to these “B movies” (that put the “B” back into bad) always follow the same formula. The first abduction or killing by the unknown alien occurs as everyone stands around and watches, just feet from the monster. When it happens again, usually one or more of the flat, stale characters that we don’t care about tell each other what just happened, as if the audience didn’t see it. Next, one of the antagonists (Skyler, played by Joel Kinnaman) gets “picked off” by the monster/alien when he steps too far away from the group, usually out of fear or stupidity. Inevitably, the plot thickens when one or more characters decide they need to get out of the city (Moscow, in this case) or even better—get to a U.S. Embassy first—which they also do in this movie (to no avail). Why do they always want to leave the city when they can see aliens for miles on the horizon? Next, the characters start connecting with other survivors and start to expose the weaknesses of the aliens, which appear to change from scene to scene, depending on what has to happen in that shot. Finally, a girl (Natalie, played by Olivia Thirlby) gets separated from the group and must be rescued by her newly found love interest (Hirsch), and a mandatory showdown must occur between the heroes (in this case Russian soldiers, mafia and Emile Hirsch) in an alien vs. human dogfight finale.

There you have it. No wait, did I miss anything? No.

To his credit, first time director Chris Gorak provides an interesting film, in terms of art direction, having supervised as art director himself on films like “Minority Report” and several other notables. The on-location shots of Moscow give some texture to the film, and there are some great images created, such as a downed airline which crashes (in one piece?) inside an elaborate government building.

There is some development of the characters that survive, in that they persevere and hold hope against hope, and appeared to see the value of life, in some new way. Others stay behind in the city to support their comrades and train even more survivors that they may encounter. This may speak to finding our place in the Body of Believers and doing what we are commissioned to do by God. Whenever I watch such films, despite their sci-fi realm of impossibility, I am always reminded that, as believers, we are actually in just such a war with creatures not too far off from these—unseen and dangerous.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

My prayer for the brethren, young and old is that we not forget this fact, and that we rely on the power of His Word to stand against them, as it says in the next verse:

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

Of course, I cannot recommend this film for any reason, but I can recommend that we each have an “action plan” that lines up with Scripture for “the darkest hour” that may still be yet to come in our own lives.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—When I read the about how “The Darkest Hour” was poorly made, and the special effects weren’t that good, I didn’t believe it 100%, and when I read stuff like that on some movie reviews, it intrigues me to check it out, as long as the content is manageable. I usually agree with about 2% of the reviews on stuff like this, unless it’s a really good movie or an action movie. This movie reminds me of a less violent “28 Days Later”. In a nut shell, I enjoyed it, though the ending was a little disappointing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Jeremy, age 25 (USA)
Positive—How could anyone give this a low rating in filmmaking quality?? The special effects were stunning, and the aliens positively unique and terrifying creatures. The scenery is gorgeous, and the two male characters, while slightly immature at times, end up showing great strength of character and ingenuity. The resourcefulness, sacrifice, and judgment calls of the different characters are as important to the film as the technology in special effects, and just as prominent. A very highly entertaining and rewarding film!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jennifer, age 27 (USA)
Positive—I always enjoy a good sci-fi fantasy movie and can even see Christian parallels in many of them. I dislike alien movies and avoid them, but this one was unique. I watched it, as I was simply curious. I liked the special effects and the aliens, and ways to defeat them were ingenious and intriguing. I don’t have any children, but think it would be ok, as there is no gory violence or explicit nudity. It ended on a good note and one of hope. I grew up with movies about good versus evil and good winning in the end.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Scott Kloian, age 61 (USA)
Neutral—If this movie would have been another hour long and showed other groups of survivors and a human race destroying these force,s this movie could have been incredible. I think they just ruined a great idea with this movie, so much more could have been done, especially with that awful ending.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3
—John, age 30 (USA)
Neutral—I really liked the concept for this movie, but they just didn’t give us much to like about any of the characters.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)

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