Combustible Celluloid
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With: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman, Veronika Ozerova, Dato Bakhtadze, Gosha Kutsenko, Nikolai Efremov, Vladimir Jaglich, Arthur Smoljaninov, Anna Roudakova, Pyotr Fyodorov
Written by: Jon Spaihts, based on a story by Leslie Bohem, M.T. Ahern, Jon Spaihts
Directed by: Chris Gorak
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some language
Running Time: 89
Date: 12/22/2011

The Darkest Hour (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Illegal Aliens

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Darkest Hour is something like the eighth alien invasion movie in the past 12 months, and though most of them are terrible, this one has the benefit of being merely dull. (Of the bunch, only Attack the Block is really good.) The characters aren't deep or interesting, but at least they aren't irritating. The invisible aliens aren't scary, but at least they aren't cheap looking.

Best friends and American dot-com entrepreneurs, Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella), travel to Moscow looking to expand, but find that a local lowlife (Joel Kinnaman) has stolen their idea. Later, at a cool nightclub, Sean and Ben meet fellow travelers Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor). Just as the fun is about to begin, weird lights begin descending from the sky. Unfortunately, they turn out to be killer, invisible aliens, aiming to turn the entire human race into ashes. Our band of humans survives the initial onslaught, but can they make their way to the American embassy and find help? Or does a deadlier fate await them?

Chris Gorak, a former art director on spectacular looking films like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fight Club, The Man Who Wasn't There and Minority Report, directs. He provides nothing terribly interesting to look at, except for vacant Moscow city streets. Though the heroes are white Americans, some of the cultural displacement is used to good effect, and the heroes are generally polite to their Eastern hemisphere neighbors. It's too bad the movie isn't more daring or exotic -- or fun.

Summit Entertainment released a the Blu-Ray. It comes with a new 8-minute short film that, for some reason, features about 10,000 edits and a constantly roving camera -- and is still boring. It also includes a 12-minute, studio-produced making-of featurette, four minutes of deleted and extended scenes, and a director's commentary track. Visuals on the high-def transfer are superb.

Best Buy Co, Inc.