What's the most boring thing in the world?
Is it, in fact, watching paint dry? No, because at least that involves stakes. You don't want to wind up with paint on your fingers! Then is it watching grass grow? Again, the answer is 'you're stupid.' We're talking about grass. A living thing is stretching toward maturity before your very eyes. You would have to be one disillusioned SOB to find that anything short of miraculous.
Exhaustive studies have repeatedly proven the most boring thing in the universe is actually a terrible sci-fi or fantasy movie. Don't get me wrong. I love made-up worlds. If there's a wizard or a robot, I'm in. But trying to muster up interest in a badly told story of something that could never ever happen would strain the patience of Buddha himself — and Buddha loves watching aliens vaporize mankind. Probably because humanity is so prone to make horrible sci-fi flicks such as The Darkest Hour.
Web developers Emile Hirsch and Max Minghella's trip to Moscow isn't going to plan. First, ostensible partner Joel Kinnaman steals their idea and sells it first. Next, aliens fall out of the sky and totally ruin their night on the town by disintegrating everyone into flaming ash.
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The three dudes find themselves trapped in a bar pantry with Rachael Taylor and Olivia Thirlby. After hiding for a week, they venture into the deserted city in search of escape — and find a way to fight back.
Just to get this out of the way, The Darkest Hour sucks. The easiest way to describe its particular brand of bad is to call it an awful SyFy original that somehow got sloshed on the big screen. It's the kind of movie where you actually wind up rooting for the aliens or giant turtle-crab because even their badly rendered CG is more interesting than the humans involved.
The best example of The Darkest Hour's miscalculations comes immediately after the surprise attack. With its cast driven into the pantry by murderous glittery balls of light no more than five minutes after Thirlby and Taylor are introduced, the film's creators make the brilliant decision to... cut to a montage of the five characters sitting around in a locked room.
Riveting cinema right there. It's not as if we barely know these characters, and that seeing how they react to the shock of invasion might a) help us get to know them and b) be incredibly dramatic. We're only talking about the end of civilization. The montage is meant to skip the boring part before they get back out on the street to face the horrifying sight of invisible energy monsters. Instead, it drains the The Darkest Hour of any momentum or connection to its cast. This isn't the only time it pulls something like that, either. It repeatedly fades to a new scene at all the wrong moments. Oh well. That frees up plenty more time to watch people doing dumb things and then dying for their stupidity.
But it's that waiting-around montage that makes the ensuing hour-plus a contender for the most boring thing of all time, right up there with watching the local news and working for a living. New characters are introduced with all the skill and none of the enthusiasm of a 4-year-old recapping his breakfast. How do you make a mad scientist/electrician and a team of Russian Mad Maxes boring? The Darkest Hour finds a way.
At least it makes an effort to come up with explanations for how the aliens work, why they're here, and how they can be defeated. But setting consistent rules and sticking to them may be the only thing The Darkest Hour does right. Otherwise, it is barely there characters getting killed one by one by floaty sparkles, all without a trace of wit or any shame about its clumsy exposition. If you attend the 3D version — featuring some of the laziest use of depth in the history of the third dimension — and listen hard, you can hear the filmmakers laughing as they count your dollar bills.