A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this alien invasion movie has little blood and gore, there's lots of death, including main characters. The aliens are invisible, and the humans die in a puff of ashes. There's some mild flirting and innuendo; language is strong, with frequent use of "s--t." Characters drink vodka in a nightclub in one scene. The movie is set in Moscow, and viewers see two very prominent Russian McDonald's ads. Fans of this genre have seen better and could probably do worse, but most teens will probably find it a forgettable experience.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
Best friends and American dot-com entrepreneurs Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) travel to Moscow looking to expand their website but find that a local lowlife (Joel Kinnaman) has stolen their idea. Later, at a cool nightclub, Sean and Ben meet fellow travelers Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor). Just as the fun is about to begin, weird lights start descending from the sky. Unfortunately, they turn out to be killer, invisible aliens, aiming to turn the entire human race into ashes. The main characters survive the initial onslaught, but can they make their way to the American embassy and find help? Or does a deadlier fate await them?
Is it any good?
The Darkest Hour is hardly original at this point, and though many of its fellow alien invasion movies are terrible, this one has the "advantage" of being merely dull. The characters aren't deep or interesting, but at least they aren't irritating. The invisible aliens aren't scary, but at least they aren't cheap looking.
Chris Gorak -- a former art director on spectacular-looking films like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fight Club, The Man Who Wasn't There, and Minority Report -- directs. Unfortunately, he provides nothing terribly interesting to look at, except for vacant Moscow city streets. Though the main characters are Caucasian Americans, some of their cultural displacement is used to good effect, and the heroes are generally polite to their Eastern hemisphere neighbors. It's too bad the movie isn't more daring or exotic -- or fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is it justified in this case? Did the story leave any other options?
Is the movie scary? What's the scariest part of it? What would happen if the characters didn't have goals to strive for?
How well do the five main characters show teamwork? Which members are the weakest links, and why? Does the movie ultimately have positive role models and messages?
- In theaters: December 25, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: April 10, 2012
- Cast: Emile Hirsch, Max Minghella, Olivia Thirlby
- Director: Chris Gorak
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Space and Aliens
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi action violence and some language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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