‘The Darkest Hour’ Blu-ray Review
Chris Gorak’s alien apocalypse film The Darkest Hour was released on Christmas Day in 2011 and is now available on Blu-ray. The Special Edition Blu-ray comes with a few features that fans will enjoy. Although they are interesting and the visual quality is good, it unfortunately doesn’t change the poor execution of the film.
Plot-wise, The Darkest Hour follows a group of twenty-somethings who are trying to survive an unusual alien attack. After mysterious orbs of light start to literally shred people to pieces, two friends, Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella), team up with Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor) to survive. Facing an unknown (and invisible) foe, they must not only figure out how to survive, but they must also try to stop the aliens.
Set in Moscow, the film blends the American characters with Russian ones (much like the filmmaking crew). They enlist the help of locals in order to hopefully find a way to safety.
The sci-fi/alien genre isn’t anything groundbreaking, but The Darkest Hour suffers from flaws that transcend just that genre. With poor writing and obvious computer-generated visuals, it seems like a low-budget action pic rather than the $30 million budgeted film it really was. Those things aside, the story is where everything falls the flattest. The aliens are virtually invisible, making these ghost/extraterrestrial hybrid “creatures” (they are waves of electricity actually) a laughing stock. It’s tough to get behind the characters, creatures, or creativity.
To its defense, there are a few aspects that seem semi-interesting, including the alien’s electrical movements and the fact that the survivors stand a better chance at night. These little things make the film a little more bearable, if only for a few minutes.
Instead of picking the movie apart more, I’ll shift to the actual Blu-ray aspects. The transfer is done really well, making the film look good, at least. There are moments (like I’ve mentioned) where everything looks fake, but it doesn’t have to do with the Blu-ray transfer, instead, the blame falls on different departments. The film was originally shot with 3-D cameras and this technology is perhaps why the film’s quality fared so well.
The Blu-ray disc also comes with the following special features:
The Darkest Hour: Survivors – The headlining feature of this release involves an 8-minute short that takes place after the film’s conclusion. Although it doesn’t use any of the original characters, it does fit right into the film. Visually, it doesn’t skip a beat compared to the feature.
The Darkest Hour: Visualizing an Invasion – This feature highlights what goes into making a visual movie. Since a lot of the effects were added in post-production, you can see how different it looked before the final product.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – Totaling five, the deleted and extended scenes don’t add a whole lot to the movie. However, you have the option to watch with or without audio commentary, which explains why certain decisions were made.
Audio Commentary – Director Chris Gorak lends his voice alongside the film, as he comments on what is going on right in front of you. This was my favorite part of the film, as it explained the casting and filming process, as well as explaining interesting tidbits about the process – from goofs to hardships dealing with filming in Moscow.
In all, it comes down to whether you liked the film when it hit theaters. I’d guess that most people didn’t, but some people adore these types of movies. If you are one of these people, you can’t go wrong with the Blu-ray edition. It’s got a fun short story, good behind-the-scenes goodies, and a commentary track that is genuinely interesting. It wasn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t for you.
The Darkest Hour Blu-ray Special Edition is available to purchase on Amazon.
Here are a few clips from the movie: