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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem in reverse based on another, but, going out of town today, I’m afraid I don’t have enough time to do that idea justice, so here’s an off-prompt one.)

 

We hope we’re alone in the universe,
We hope that, in case we are wrong,
The aliens out there are friendly
And might want to just get along.

But if it turns out we’re mistaken
And they have designs on the earth,
The way we respond may determine
How much we believe it is worth.
___________________

MPAA rating: PG-13

Were you expecting last year’s Oscar-winning biopic about Winston Churchill? Psych! That would be Darkest Hour, while this post is for The Darkest Hour. Big difference. The Darkest Hour is instead an alien invasion flick from 2011, the kind of reasonably decent sci-fi you might find in the bargain bin of the supermarket, which is where I found it.

At its core, The Darkest Hour isn’t much different from War of the Worlds, but the trappings and circumstances are different enough that it doesn’t feel like a total copy. Instead of the usual American setting, we see the worldwide invasion from Moscow, where two American software developers (Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella) are stranded when aliens float down from the sky, wipe out all electronics, and start disintegrating every human in sight. Accompanied by another pair of American tourists (Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor) and a Swedish jerk (Joel Kinnaman), they make their way through the city in search of a way out and a way to fight back.

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There’s really no depth whatsoever to the characters; they’re all simply thrown together during this apocalypse, trying to find the balance between survival and panic. Except for Kinnaman, though, the actors are all likable enough, even if the aliens are the real reason to watch. Owing to its limited budget, the aliens are invisible most of the time, which usually adds to the tension and allows for some clever hints to their presence, since they activate nearby light bulbs and electronics. Their effects for dispatching humans are also striking (though reminiscent of Jean Grey’s Phoenix powers in X-Men: The Last Stand), and the way they shred their victims is both shocking and bloodless for that PG-13 rating.

I don’t know: The Darkest Hour isn’t an especially good or unique film, yet I find it oddly watchable, like the kind of movie you can just leave on in the background and let your attention wander back and forth from it. It also managed to surprise me with who makes it and who doesn’t, since I guess I assumed all four of the main characters would make it. Maybe I just wasn’t thinking the first time, since it actually is a little obvious in retrospect. Either way, The Darkest Hour isn’t a complete waste of time and has some strong moments for those who love the alien invasion genre.

Best line: (Sean, in a bar) “No civilization is without religion or alcohol.”   (Ben) “That’s why I drink religiously.”

 

Rank: Honorable Mention

 

© 2018 S.G. Liput
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