The Darkest Hour 3D Blu-ray delivers great video and superb audio in this fan-pleasing Blu-ray release
When aliens attack and swiftly conquer the world by frying our electronic grid and systematically hunting down the disorganized, pathetically under-defended survivors, a small band of tourists in Moscow combine to find a way to annihilate the aliens' powerful defenses.
For more about The Darkest Hour 3D and the The Darkest Hour 3D Blu-ray release, see the The Darkest Hour 3D Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 4, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
You don't know who you are until something happens.
Nobody likes those movies where all the good parts find their way into the trailer, those movies that are better enjoyed in a two- or three-minute
compact version rather than the larger ninety-minute full-on experience. The Darkest Hour is one of those movies. It's not an awful
experience stretched out to ninety minutes by any stretch of the imagination, but the full film doesn't really do much more than repeat the sort of
stuff that appears in the trailer. If anything, it's too slow. Once the initial "cool" factor of the usual alien invasion and post-apocalyptic hubbub fades
away at the end of the first act, viewers are left with pretty much a series of repeating scenes that feature characters wandering around and hiding out
from the aliens, slowly piecing together what they're here for, how to kill them, and how to avoid their own demise. It's all very straightforward, and
all that changes is the background and character rotation as some are killed off and others appear to take their place. The movie works well enough as
mindless entertainment with a little scientific muscle behind it, but a game-changer or genre-definer The Darkest Hour most certainly is not.
It's raining death.
Two young Americans, Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella), have travelled to Moscow to sell software, but they arrive only to find another
businessman, Skyler (Joel Kinnaman), has stolen their idea. They're dead in the water, their trip's a waste, and they head to a club to drink their
troubles away. There, they not only run into Skyler, but they meet two English-speaking girls, Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor),
with whom they quickly bond. But just as the night's getting started, the lights go out. Cell phones are dead and confusion reigns. Outside, a
brilliant golden light fills the nighttime sky. Soon, individual collections of light descend to the surface. The partiers quickly learn that they're not
friendly. One touch and victims disintegrate into a pile of unrecognizable ash. In the panic, Sean, Ben, Skyler, Natalie, and Anne find refuge in a
storeroom stocked with but limited supplies. As the days pass and their food runs low, they decide to seek help on the outside, knowing that staying
put is just
as much a death sentence as is venturing out. They find a dead city with few traces of life and the alien life forms harvesting Earth's resources now
that most of the resistance has been reduced to dust.
Imagine Pitch Black meets the science and after-effects of an electromagnetic
pulse blast meets Attack the Block or any other small-band-of-survivor-Alien-attack
and see a pretty clear picture of what The Darkest Hour looks like, at least as a general rule. Director Chris Gorak's picture lacks the
characters, plot lines, and honest energy of those films, but it does mesh those ideas and play with a smooth polish and shine that carries the movie
above and beyond today's lower-grade rubbish floating around and masquerading as big and mean end-of-the-world Thrillers. But it's not a top-tier
picture by any stretch of the imagination, either.
The Darkest Hour generally entertains, if watching characters run and hide and turn into dust all "Buffy" style is one's idea of entertaining.
premise is suitably interesting and the atmosphere sometimes even reaches a peak of halfway frightening, but mostly transparent characters and a
plot built for action rather than drama or emotion largely negate the positives the film brings to the table.
The picture lingers about in limbo because it's at best not quite ready for primetime, at worst just another wannabe Action/Sci-Fi flick that's only
concerned with special effects and gunplay, not building character dynamics, establishing personalities, shaping anyone worth truly rooting for. The
film sets up its protagonists against a businessman who steals their idea and, no surprise, they are forced together in the game of survival after the
event. Other than dumbing the businessman down and allowing the two main "heroes" to cuss him out a few times, there's no real purpose behind
establishing their relationship at the beginning, other than for another familiar face to show up when everything goes down. Granted, a movie like
this doesn't need good characterization, but it sure would help. Look at something like Aliens and compare it to The Darkest Hour. James Cameron's
film manages to vividly portray every last Marine and all of the civilians who accompany them, a handful a little more than the others to be sure, but
movie works because the audience comes to care about the characters, not just because it looks cool and there's a lot of gunplay. The Darkest
Hour recycles characters from the generic screenplay handbook, giving audiences no reason to care if they make it through or turn into vapor
because, well, wait, who just died? Anyone? Bueller?
The Darkest Hour's Blu-ray 3D presentation isn't terrible, but it's far from exemplary. The image provides an average sense of 3D depth; there's
good separation between characters and objects, and viewers can roughly discern the exact spacing across a room, down a street, or through an entire
city. Those sprawling cityscape shots fare best, generally, but even closer-quartered but still relatively open shots, such as an early scene inside the
Moscow airport, yield decent depth. Gimmick 3D effects are rare; an upside-down shot in chapter six looks really cool. Random debris, vaporized
humans, and exploding aliens all present viewers with little odds and ends that seem to drift out of or explode from the television screen. Some viewers
may experience light crosstalk, depending on television capabilities. On the general side of the ledger, this transfer holds its own compared to its 2D-only counterpart. It's a little darker, skin tones a touch pastier, but it still
offers vibrant colors and excellent clarity, particularly in bright outdoor scenes. Color balance remains a strength. Fine detail isn't quite as exacting in
darker scenes, but facial textures and all of the little city details still shine, including dust and debris in the streets, brick textures, and the like. Trace
amounts of aliasing and a few jagged edge are also visible. This isn't a disc that will sell 3D displays, but it's a decent presentation. Note that the review
3D/2D hybrid disc sampled would only output a 3D signal, even when selecting the 2D menu option. Only connecting to a 2D-only source yielded a 2D
transfer. This was confirmed via both a Panasonic standalone unit and a PlayStation 3.
The Darkest Hour shines on Blu-ray. Summit's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack delivers expectational audio from beginning to end. A strong
collection of haunting, airy notes deeply penetrate the soundstage during the opening titles. Drifting surround support and a fine sense of wide-open
space creates a fairly chilling sonic effect. The track plays popular music in the following minutes, once overlaying the film and shortly thereafter in a
dance club. Both deliver clean, crisp notes, excellent spacing, natural immersion, and superb and fine-tuned bass. Action effects deliver the goods. The
sound of humans being ripped apart by the creatures plays with a clear sense of tearing and spilling all over the stage. Gunfire is delivered accurately
and with a strong, crisp edge. It plays with good power and authenticity, and even the sound of brass hitting pavement plays with a true-to-life flair.
The heaviest, most prominent effects -- including building collapses -- play with tremendous strength, but not at the expense of nearly pinpoint clarity
and natural immersion into the chaos. The track also handles more subtle sound effects, such as water lightly rolling up against a ship's hull, with a
pure, realistic sensation. Dialogue is firm, clear, and balanced in the center channel, never lost under the heaviest effects. This is another first-rate
soundtrack from Summit.
The Darkest Hour contains an average assortment of extras: a short film, a featurette, deleted scenes, and an audio commentary.
Survivors (1080p, Dolby Digital 5.1, 8:10): A short film based in the world of The Darkest Hour that's actually a little bit better
than the main feature.
The Darkest Hour: Visualizing an Invasion (1080p, 12:09): A detailed look at the process of creating the film's most crucial visual
Deleted and Extended Scenes (1080p, 4:48): Anne and Natalie at the Airport, Skyler Brags to Tess, Ben and Vika Talk About Their
Siblings, A Toast to the Fallen Comrades, and Natalie and Sean Talk About Anne and Ben. With optional director commentary.
Audio Commentary: Director Chris Gorak discusses the history of the production, its similarities to Red Dawn, the assemblage and
work of the cast, shooting in Moscow, specific filmmaking locations within the city, working in 3D, challenges of the shoot, a delay in the shoot due to
natural disaster, the specifics of the plot, visual effects, score and sound design, and more. Despite some brief gaps in the track, it's nicely informative
and does well to shed light on the specifics of the filmmaking process.
The Darkest Hour serves its purpose as acceptable mindless entertainment. It's slick, well made, kind of snazzy sometimes, but that's about it.
Dull characters and a repetitive cadence keep the movie from ascending beyond mediocrity. This is the perfect example of the go-nowhere modern
movie. It's nowhere near as awful those bottom scrapers in terms of raw production value, but it's also a fine example of how a movie suffers when
nobody cares about the characters. The bottom line is that most will be entertained in a brain dead sort of way, but audiences shouldn't expect the next
great Sci-Fi masterpiece. Summit Entertainment's Blu-ray release of The Darkest Hour features stellar audio and midlevel 3D video. A few
included. This would make a good rainy day rental.
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This April, Summit Home Entertainment will bring The Darkest Hour to Blu-ray. The sci-fi adventure follows a group of young professionals vacationing in Moscow as they lead the resistance against a violent alien invasion. The Darkest Hour streets on April 10 ...