Beware of the film that has and advanced screening only seconds before everyone leaves on holiday break. The studio (Universal's Summit) has no intention of creating a lot of negative buzz when it might just be able to squeeze out a quick profit in the first weekend after all the good films are full.


Director Chris Gorak has experience working on such films as "Minority Report", Fight Club", "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "Tombstone." No he didn't direct them, he worked on them. However, that does mean he worked under the likes of Steven Spielberg, David Finch, the Coen Brothers, and Terry Gilliam. Not a bad collection of bosses to work under and presumably learn from.


Oh well! I sure he used that argument when he took charge of directing "The Darkest Hour". Armed with what was no doubt a dollar ninety-eight cent budget Gorak cast Emile Hirsh (from "Taking Woodstock" and "Speed Racer"), Rachael Taylor ("Shutter", "Transformers"), and Max Minghella ("Ides of March", "The Social Network") in a race to save humanity.

The poor choice of cast was problem one; problem two was the poor choice of writers. The dialogue is something straight out of the old Dick and Jane books. Problem three was continuity.


The story has Sean (Hirsh) and Ben (Minghella) as two American entrpreneurs in Moscow to sell their computer program to a Russian corporation. However, when they arrive, they quickly find out that thye company has already utilized their program and has no intentions of paying them.


They go out that night after spending their last $12,000 on the trip, so they can drink away their sorrows and meet chicks.


Sure enough they meet two chicks Anne (Rachael Taylor) and Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) at a club along with the Russian guy who screwed them out of the deal.

Suddenly balls of light start floating down from the sky. At first the balls of light are interesting; that is until they start attacking and vaporizing people.


Everyone scatters like roaches as the aliens begin exterminating all humanity... except for these four Americans and the Russian schemer.


They lay low for a few days before learning of a few other survivors. One of the survivors is a crazed professor who has invented a Faraday cage which makes him undetectable to the aliens. he has another survivor staying with him who speaks English because at first, he hasn't a clue what the Americans are talking about. I did say: at first.


Anyway, he has also invented an untest microwave weapon that might get through the alien armor. Now begins a battle to try to escap Moscow in a conveniently undetectable submarine.

Yeah, this is a rehash of "Independence Day" and every other invasion film of late. And while the graphics are decent, there are plenty of other problems. One is continuity. The Russian scientist guy suddenly starts speaking English while explaining his microwave gun.


No doubt "Cloverfield" influenced Gorak, when we finally get to see the creatures, we only get nice economical glimpses. I was expecting something akin to the monsters of the Id from "Forbidden Planet" but got much, much less. The cast acted as if they were reading lines - there was no real fluidity.


"The Darkest Hour" is for sci-fi nuts who just can't wait for the re-release of the "Star Wars" saga in 3D. By the way, the 3D in this film was totally a waste of money.   -- GEOFF BURTON