Darkest Hour, The (Blu-ray / DVD)

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The Darkest HourStarring Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor, Joel Kinnaman

Directed by Chris Gorak

Distributed by Summit Entertainment

If you’ll allow me, a bit about your reviewer: I work as an assistant manager at a ten-screen theatre in a small Midwestern city. In addition to free popcorn and the ability to preview movies in advance of their release, perhaps the best part of the job is being able to talk with customers about their filmgoing experience – the presentation, how comfortable the auditorium may (or may not) have been, how many texters should have been taken outside and summarily executed, et cetera, et cetera. But, of course, the very best parts of my post-movie conversations are the movies themselves.

I love being able to hear the opinions of large groups of people about the various flicks we have at any one time. Whether they adore, hate, or find a feature just so-so, every opinion is enjoyable and always worth listening to.

When The Darkest Hour was released this past winter, there was very little buzz surrounding it, at least locally. People still haven’t fully made up their minds as to whether or not they love or hate 3D (which was an option for this movie), and the theatrical trailer did little to inspire anything other than apathy concerning the film in question. Nevertheless, people did show up (quite a few, in fact) to watch it, and the reactions…yeesh. Generally, when a film ends and people begin to exit the building, I’ll approach with a cheerful “Hi, folks, how was the movie?” or something of the sort. With the Darkest Hour audiences, I never really had that chance. People looked as though they had just had their life forces drained. Women looked as though they’d just been punched in the gut. Men as though they’d been kicked in the groin. Any eye contact I might have made with these poor souls communicated an unspoken command – “Fuck off”. People weren’t remotely interested in chatting about what they’d just been through.

I’ve rarely seen a film be so universally derided. I believe the last time may have been Frank Miller’s adaptation of The Spirit (which I happened to enjoy, dammit). So, even though I can view movies for free (and even though I dig all manner of alien invasion flicks), I allowed the general opinion of the customers to sway me into giving Hour a pass.

Now, having just viewed the Blu-ray, I really wished I had given the film a chance in theatres. Not because it’s great (it’s not). Not because it’s a hidden gem (nope). But, because, it’s exactly what I thought it was going to be in the first place – a fun, popcorn sci-fi flick. Nothing more, nothing less.

To be sure, the film has its plotholes. It has its share of bad dialogue, clunky storytelling, and dodgy CG. But, in the interest of being fair, it’s also populated with good actors, interesting villains, and moves briskly enough throughout its eighty-nine minutes. Maybe it’s because my expectations were so incredibly low to begin with, but I actually found myself (gasp!) enjoying The Darkest Hour. If you’re a sucker for sci-fi flicks (or, especially, Syfy flicks), or even if you’re just in the mood for empty-headed action cinema, you may want to give it a shot. For a more detailed look at this film, check out Foywonder’s review for The Darkest Hour here.

Given its box office and critical reception, Summit Home Entertainment surprises by giving The Darkest Hour a decent Blu-ray package. The image is mostly sharp throughout, though the blacks look washed-out more often than not. An option is given to view the film in 3D, should you have the tech. The audio is nice and punchy, and should keep you on your toes during the film’s action sequences.

The set of bonus features is fairly strong. First up is The Darkest Hour: Survivors, a short film that follows up the events of the film by looking at the growing resistance to the alien menace at various points all over the globe. It’s well made, and is more intense in its short running time than any stretch of the actual film. If a sequel somehow miracles itself into existence, I hope it takes its cues from this short.

Next up is The Darkest Hour: Visualizing an Invasion, a neat little making-of doc that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Rounding things off are a collection of useless deleted and extended scenes, and a director’s audio commentary.

Overall, I can’t in good conscience recommend that anyone should buy this. There’s every chance that you may hate it (and me, for giving it a pass). However, if you’re inclined to love silly B-movies or just want a fun way to waste ninety minutes, you could do far worse than checking out The Darkest Hour.

3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD Special Features:

  • The Darkest Hour: Survivors short film
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • The Darkest Hour: Visualizing an Invasion featurette
  • Audio Commentary with the Director


    2 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Discuss The Darkest Hour in the comments section below.

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  • Jinx

    Get Your Box of Dread Now
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    • Vanvance1

      2.5 stars is pretty bang on. After the first act everything that happens in this movie is highly predictable excepting a few key moments that makes no sense whatsosever.

      You might find yourself asking the question: “Did I miss a scene? How did she get there?”

      It starts off strong and gets weaker and weaker as the film goes on… Hmmm, in restrospect 2.5 is kind of generous.