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The Darkest Hour 3D(2011)
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.
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor, Gosha Kutsenko, Pyotr Fyodorov
Director: Chris Gorak
» See full cast & crew
The Darkest Hour 3D Blu-ray Review
Mediocre 3D doesn't help improve a mediocre movie.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 4, 2012
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 pretty much 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.
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 movie 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 superior 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. The 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 the 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 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
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 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
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 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Darkest Hour contains an average assortment of extras: a short film, a featurette, deleted scenes, and an audio commentary.
The Darkest Hour 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
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 supplements are included. This would make a good rainy day rental.
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The Darkest Hour 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Darkest Hour Blu-ray - March 8, 2012
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 ...
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