The Darkest Hour (2011) Preview

As Rich and Poe karate chop the necks of the old buffoons ogling Rio, the creepy old men try to explain all the terrible rich people problems that have driven them to this point. “My wife is cheating with my best friend!” one screams. The other nods his head, “that’s right, and I’m disillusioned with my materialistic life and that drove me to find thrills sleeping with his wife!” Oh boy. Rich and Poe roll their eyes at the tired excuses. Time to take them to the Twin Chip Zone. But just as they are about to finish the job, Rio steps in. Hugging them both she explains how she no longer needs their protection. That she is a strong woman who can defend herself against these weak willed old men going through whatever midlife crisis has brought them to this beautiful (and certainly not creepy) blue lagoon. “Don’t let them change the beauty of this place with violence. We can keep it natural. Beautiful. Love.” Bessy, Rich, and Poe wipe tears from their eyes and let the old men run off into the jungle. They roast s’mores and enjoy some refreshing Coca-Cola on the beach as the sun is setting. “It’s beautiful,” sighs Rio, “I’ll miss it when I’m off becoming a detective.” Bessy snorts happily, but Rich cocks his head quizzically. “It’s so… uh… green?” he says as a chill runs down his spine. Indeed the sky is streaked in green and while those creepy old men were ultimately harmless it seems that the civil war has arrived after all. The sky becomes smokey and what appears to be monsters begin to descend from the sky. Everything is plunged into darkness. The hour of battle has arrived. That’s right! We’re finally, finally, finally watching The Darkest Hour. There are a number of films from 2011-2012 that were coming out around the inception of BMT where we’d see the trailer on TV and be like “word, that would be fun for BMT” and then we just never watched the movie. And it would come up all the time over the years… and we’d still not watch the movie. And now we’re here and we’re watching The Darkest Hour. Which is weird because probably no one remembers what The Darkest Hour even is. Rest assured, it’s very much set in Moscow. Let’s go!

The Darkest Hour (2011) – BMeTric: 68.2; Notability: 26 

(Oh … this is going to be garbage. It hits 4.9 like a heat-seeking missile. I’m actually a bit surprised, because after Emile Hirsch torpedoed his own career I would have imagined people might go online to pile on his real stinkers.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars –  In Moscow, a group of young Americans is among the few survivors of an attack by invisible aliens. They have to make their way across the deserted city in hopes of meeting other survivors. Well-made by standard alien-invasion stuff (thank you, H. G. Wells), distinguished primarily by the Moscow locations.

(I’m glad I nailed this actually. I wanted to make sure I watched a good “learning” film and was working through in my mind which alien invasion films make the most sense. I settled on an older adaptation of War of the Worlds because it fit the bill of alien invasion across the globe in insurmountable odds against humanity. Leonard’s little “thank you H.G. Wells” is certainly an allusion to how much of a rip off this film is of that book.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgXzLMQuQ6Y/

(Oooof. It just looks bad. There is no way around it, the CGI and effects just look terrible.)

Directors – Chris Gorak – (Known For: Right at Your Door; BMT: The Darkest Hour; Notes: Production designer on the smash Stephen Baldwin classic Sub Down. Was the art director for Minority Report and studied architecture before getting into film.)

Writers – Jon Spaihts (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Doctor Strange; Prometheus; Future BMT: Passengers; BMT: The Darkest Hour; The Mummy; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for The Mummy in 2018; Notes: One of the writers of the upcoming Dune film. Passengers was an unproduced script he wrote that made the 2007 blacklist.)

Leslie Bohem (story) – (Known For: Twenty Bucks; Future BMT: A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child; Tracers; Nowhere to Run; Dante’s Peak; House III: The Horror Show; The Alamo; BMT: The Darkest Hour; Daylight; Notes: Won an Emmy for the 2002 miniseries Taken. Played bass in the 80s band Gleaming Spires. You’d recognize their song Are You Ready for the Sex Girls.)

M.T. Ahern (story) – (BMT: The Darkest Hour; Notes: I believe this is Megan Ahern who is the daughter of Emmylou Harris. I have a theory that Ahern came up with the story, Bohem helped her out with it knowing her via some musical connection, and then Spaihts was brought on to finish the shooting script.)

Actors – Emile Hirsch – (Known For: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood; Into the Wild; Lone Survivor; Freaks; The Girl Next Door; The Autopsy of Jane Doe; Savages; Alpha Dog; Killer Joe; Lords of Dogtown; Speed Racer; Milk; Never Grow Old; An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn; Taking Woodstock; Prince Avalanche; The Emperor’s Club; 10,000 Saints; The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys; Roxxy; Future BMT: All Nighter; The Outsider; The Air I Breathe; Imaginary Heroes; Venuto al mondo; BMT: The Darkest Hour; Notes: Amazingly consistent career … well, right up until he was convicted of a pretty grotesque assault of a movie producer in 2015. He’s been blacklisted from what I know, although his recent appearance in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood probably will help him get back on his feet in the coming years.)

Olivia Thirlby – (Known For: No Strings Attached; Juno; Dredd; United 93; Above the Shadows; The Stanford Prison Experiment; The Senator; 5 to 7; Margaret; The Wackness; Solitary Man; Nobody Walks; Snow Angels; Being Flynn; Uncertainty; Between Us; Breaking Upwards; Love Comes Lately; Future BMT: New York, I Love You; Damascus Cover; Just Before I Go; Arlen Faber; Welcome to Happiness; BMT: The Darkest Hour; What Goes Up; The Wedding Ringer; Notes: Married a sound designer she met on the set of Dredd. This was one of her first starring roles.)

Max Minghella – (Known For: The Social Network; Horns; Agora; Into the Forest; The Ides of March; Syriana; 10 Years; About Alex; Brief Interviews with Hideous Men; Bee Season; Future BMT: The Internship; How to Lose Friends & Alienate People; Art School Confidential; The 9th Life of Louis Drax; BMT: The Darkest Hour; Notes: Son of Anthony Minghella, who won an Oscar for directing The English Patient. Directed the film Teen Spirit starring Elle Fanning which got a limited 4 theater release.)

Budget/Gross – $30,000,000 / Domestic: $21,443,494 (Worldwide: $64,626,786)

(That’s not super great, partially because that $30 million figure was probably quite above the initial budget considering they decided to film in 3D and there were a lot of issues in Russia during production.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 12% (7/59): Devoid of believable characters or convincing visual effects, this may be The Darkest Hour for the careers of all involved.

(Rough, the film is compared unfavorably towards the Transformers sequels. Makes sense though, lots of grinding machine noises without many ideas. Reviewer Highlight: Not since Mark Wahlberg trembled in fear beside a menacing houseplant in The Happening has a film tried to provoke terror with such an unlikely object of menace. – Nathan Rabin, AV Club)

Poster – Bad ‘Tricity

(It’s posters like this that had me going “WTF, mate?” back in 2011 and assuming that we would have watched it for BMT ages ago. Giving me flashbacks to The Avengers. I guess I like the orange color scheme and the russification of the font. C-)

Tagline(s) – Survive The Holidays (C)

The Invasion Begins Christmas Day (D)

(They really went all in on the Christmas release date, didn’t they? I don’t love taglines like these primarily because they are using something wholly separate from the film in order to try to be clever with the tagline. These would be OK for a Christmas film, but I don’t think this is even a secret holiday film… so what’s the point? First is better than the second and would actually be good if it pertained to the film at hand.)

Keyword – end of the world

Top 10: Avengers: Endgame (2019), Justice League (2017), Interstellar (2014), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Zombieland: Double Tap (2019), Suicide Squad (2016), Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), Man of Steel (2013)

Future BMT: 65.6 Pulse (2006), 61.0 Legion (2010), 57.5 Little Nicky (2000), 56.1 Spawn (1997), 54.8 Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), 50.1 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), 48.4 Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), 47.5 The Dark Tower (2017), 44.3 The Reaping (2007), 40.2 End of Days (1999);

BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Geostorm (2017), Fantastic Four (2015), Hellboy (2019), 2012 (2009), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), The 5th Wave (2016), Gods of Egypt (2016), Pixels (2015), The Last Witch Hunter (2015), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), The Darkest Hour (2011), Left Behind (2014), Maximum Overdrive (1986), Skyline (2010), R.I.P.D. (2013), Bless the Child (2000)

(Absolutely amazing dip right when this movie is made. I have a feeling I know what it is: the financial crisis. The reasons could be twofold. Mainly I just think disaster films are ultra-expensive so they put all of them on the back burner. But also psychologically I imagine people struggling to find work have no interest in watching films where the world falls apart, so that could be part of it as well. I’m excited for Legion, that looks like a giant pile of shit.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 23) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Olivia Thirlby is No. 3 billed in The Darkest Hour and No. 3 billed in What Goes Up, which also stars Steve Coogan (No. 1 billed) who is in Around the World in 80 Days (No. 2 billed), which also stars Jackie Chan (No. 1 billed) who is in The Medallion (No. 1 billed), which also stars John Rhys-Davies (No. 5 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 2 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 2 + 4 + 1 = 23. If we were to watch Suicide Squad, Nights in Rodanthe, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 20.

Notes – Shot in 3D as opposed to post-conversion. (Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa)

Production was suspended for a planned two weeks due to the extraordinary air pollution caused by heavy smoke from the wild fires surrounding Moscow in August 2010. It eventually resumed three weeks later. Even with this precaution, smoke still made it into a lot of shots and had to be digitally removed in post production.

The involvement of Timur Bekmambetov as producer afforded the production the opportunity of using Russia as a backdrop instead of the usual USA locations. Bekmambetov owns a film production company in Moscow called Bazelevs where most of the movie was made.

Not screened in advance for North American critics.

The crew was made up of about 30% American and 70% Russian.

The boat the refugees use to try to reach the submarine is named “Orca” (spelled “orka” in Cyrillic).

Hunter Killer Preview

Jamie and the crew of the USS Rentacar arrive at the train station where they hope to catch the Little Old Librarian. “Which train is the one the terrorists take in the script?” Jamie asks Odin. “The 69:69 to Paris,” he replies. “Nice,” laughs the Predator in his Predator language and slams a spicy frito can of lime-a-rita mountain dew. “Come on that doesn’t even make…” Just then the 69:69 to Paris arrives and the world around Jamie seems to shift… something is seriously wrong. When it snaps back into place the space cops, Jamie, Vikling and his tribe, the entire student body of the Dracula School, The Predator, Captain Chip, a bunch of sexy hologram wolves, and the corpse of Frang pile onto the train. A bone-chilling laugh greets their arrival. “At every step you have shown how stupid you really are,” cackles the Little Old Librarian. “You’re the final piece of the puzzle. Now I will use your twin powers to use the Ivory Socket and control the world. Without Patrick you have no power to stop me, only power that I can exploit.” Jamie falls to his knees in despair. Could it be. Could his twin powers be useless to save the world after all? Suddenly he hears a small voice in his head, “You must still succeed.” He almost… recognizes the voice. Could it be? Without thinking he rushes at the Little Old Librarian knowing that he’ll be too late. He will be destroyed by his own twin powers. Suddenly she gets a distracted look in her eye and asks, “why are those wolves so sexy?” This slight delay gives Jamie just enough time to grab at the Ivory Socket. “Best twins ever,” he whispers as his hand grasps the socket. And then the universe was torn apart.

Patrick, Sticks, and Stones are in the z-movie multiverse version of Hawaii where all the ladies have big bazongas and they make the men go “whoa!”. Stones turns to Patrick. ‘Gosh dern it, use the Dongle! Use your powers! It’s the only way to make us real.” I turn to them tears streaming from my eyes feeling exploited and used. But before I can say a word one of the ladies with big bazongas lands a little aircraft nearby. “Thank God you’re here Sticks and Stones, there are terrorists and snakes and frisbees, oh my!” Their eyes turn pitch black and doll-like and they pull out their bazookas, “Anything I can do to help ma’am,” Stones says tipping his cowboy hat. As the two characters wreak havoc on z-Hawaii Patrick knows he can’t let these two madmen into the real world. Patrick sheds a single tear, for the trust broken, for the friendship lost, for the two people he saw so much of Rich and Poe in, the characters he now knows must be somewhere in a bad-movie multiverse. He zaps away, back among the blowing papers of z-LAPD precinct. How to use the Dongle though? All of a sudden Sticks and Stones appear in front of him, soaked in blood. “B-b-b-b-b-b-but how?!” Patrick cries. “We have a secret,” growled Sticks, “… we’re twins too”. No! What a twist! Patrick zaps to a terrible looking Mount Rushmore set, but Sticks and Stones follow. “Look into your heart gosh dern it, you know it to be true!” cries Stones. Patrick zaps across the world, across the z-movie multiverse, with Sticks and Stones taking chase. They end up back upon the Birdemic beach, winds whipping, all three combatants braced in a battle of Twin Powers. They are too powerful, Patrick knows it, without Jamie to aid in this ultimate twin fight he is going to be torn apart. He grasps the Obsidian Dongle and raises it into the air. “Best twins ever,” he whispers. And then the universe was torn apart.

They blink their eyes and look at each other. Sticks and Stones are gone. The entire crew of the USS Rentacar is gone. For some reason the corpse of Frang is still there filling the submarine they’ve found themselves with the overwhelming stench of decay. That’s right! We’re doing the final BMT Live of the year to watch the submarine instant classic Hunter Killer starring Gerard Butler. With Geostorm last year and Hunter Killer this year it seems like this is becoming an annual tradition that I’ll grow to love. Let’s go!

Hunter Killer (2018) – BMeTric: 3.8

(Pointless to actually show the graphs which will not show much as it literally just came out. We’ll see where it ends up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is just another Geostorm, which is just a shade above 50 BMeTric with a low 5 rating and 70K votes.)

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars –  Butler’s performance—or lack thereof—keeps “Hunter Killer” from breaking any ground in the field of war movies. It’s also an odd time to release a movie that embraces collaborating with the Russians and painting bad and good guys with such broad strokes.

(Usually I would scoff at the political narrative being painted at the end there, but in this case it is pretty interesting. They filmed this ages ago (given Michael Nyqvist died in June 2017 at least over a year ago), so they likely realized oh so late that they had managed to produce an accidentally tone deaf film. Probably part of the reason the release has been moved around so much. Its release could literally be: bury this right when people have kind of forgotten the Russia stuff and are instead interested in the election. Although perhaps that is going a bit far, the release date has been known for six months. Still interesting.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnP_z3qXDCQ

(I have a feeling he doesn’t actually say “submerge the ship” in the movie. If he does that is a huge oversight. The character Butler plays literally has lived on submarines for his entire career. And I don’t think there is a reason to refer to a submarine as a ship instead of a boat. Main complaint: the trailer makes me think the film isn’t set entirely on a submarine, there are like … shootouts with marins and stuff, which doesn’t make me super happy.)

Directors – Donovan Marsh – (Known For: Spud; BMT: Hunter Killer; Notes: Looking at Spud I think it is safe to say Donovan Marsh is South African, and has garnered awards recognition there. I think this is his first non-South African production.)

Writers – Arne Schmidt (screenplay by) (as Arne L. Schmidt) – (Future BMT: Chain Reaction; BMT: Hunter Killer; Notes: Primarily a producer. He used to be a second unit director in the 70s, then produced action films like RoboCop, and this is only his second writing credit, and first non-story credit.)

Jamie Moss (screenplay by) – (Known For: Ghost in the Shell; Future BMT: Street Kings; BMT: Hunter Killer; Notes: Somewhat enigmatic career. Seems like a production house screenwriter, punching up Ellroy’s Street Kings before doing a bunch of uncredited work. He is writing Safe House 2.)

George Wallace and Don Keith (based on the novel “Firing Point” written by) – (BMT: Hunter Killer; Notes: Wallace was a 22 year veteran of nuclear submarines working on the USS John Adams and USS Woodrow Wilson. Keith is a co-writer for historical books, a journalist by trade he has co-written over 23 books in his career.)

Actors – Gerard Butler – (Known For: Den of Thieves; 300; How to Train Your Dragon; Olympus Has Fallen; How to Train Your Dragon 2; RocknRolla; Reign of Fire; Tomorrow Never Dies; Coriolanus; Nim’s Island; Beowulf & Grendel; Mrs Brown; Dear Frankie; Harrison’s Flowers; The Cherry Orchard; Future BMT: Dracula 2001; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Tale of the Mummy; The Ugly Truth; A Family Man; The Game of Their Lives; Machine Gun Preacher; BMT: Movie 43; Geostorm; Gods of Egypt; The Bounty Hunter; Timeline; Gamer; Playing for Keeps; London Has Fallen; Hunter Killer; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 2011 for The Bounty Hunter; and in 2017 for Gods of Egypt, and London Has Fallen; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple/Worst Screen Ensemble for The Bounty Hunter in 2011; Notes: Scottish. I would describe his career as almost shameless. He’s been in every manner of action film and solidified his stature as a leading man for any kind of film. Bankable and reliable, I enjoy my yearly terrible Butler film.)

Gary Oldman – (Known For: The Dark Knight; The Dark Knight Rises; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Dracula; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Leon; Darkest Hour; The Hitman’s Bodyguard; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Batman Begins; Le cinquième élément; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; True Romance; Lawless; The Book of Eli; RoboCop; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; JFK; Air Force One; Future BMT: The Unborn; Lost in Space; Paranoia; Tau; Planet 51; Man Down; Criminal; Criminal Law; Quest for Camelot; Child 44; Hannibal; Romeo Is Bleeding; BMT: Red Riding Hood; The Scarlet Letter; Tiptoes; The Space Between Us; Hunter Killer; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for The Scarlet Letter in 1996; Notes: It is shocking to me how many bad films Oldman has been in. He goes from major series (Batman, Harry Potter), to weirdo indie film (Tiptoes), to bad kids Sci-Fi (Lost in Space) to everything in between. Impressive (if kind of shockingly bad in parts) resume.)

Common – (Known For: The Hate U Give; Smallfoot; John Wick: Chapter 2; Now You See Me; American Gangster; Girls Trip; Wanted; All About Nina; The Tale; Barbershop: A Fresh Cut; Selma; Rex; Date Night; Run All Night; Happy Feet Two; Just Wright; X/Y; Love Beats Rhymes; Future BMT: Suicide Squad; Every Secret Thing; Terminator Salvation; Entourage; The Odd Life of Timothy Green; Smokin’ Aces; Street Kings; LUV; Being Charlie; BMT: Movie 43; New Year’s Eve; Hunter Killer; Notes: Was a rapper in the mid-to-late 90s debuting as Common Sense in 1994. From Chicago, he then go into acting in the early 2000s and would guess, like Mos Def, ended up being more well known for than in the end.)

Budget/Gross – $40 million / N/A

(Almost inevitably a gigantic bomb. Only made $6 million opening weekend, so $15 million would be generous for domestic take. And worldwide it was only in theaters for a hot second, so likely very little from there as well.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 36% (29/80): Much like the submarine in its story, Hunter Killer cruises the murky action depths, following a perfunctory course into territory that’s been charted many times before.

(We were watching this keenly to see if it would qualify. I’m rather delighted that it looks like it will in the end. Getting a good-bad film at the end of October makes for a much more relaxing winter cycle. Reviewer Highlight: All the actors are sunk by playing caricatures prone to spitting out leaden, often unintentionally humorous dialogue. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – Hunter Killer for the Red October (A-)

hunter_killer_ver4

(Just fantastic. Yes it is clearly trying to connect this film to the classic Red October, but I don’t care. I do care that they used a terribly unoriginal font. That docks it a little.)

Tagline(s) – Start a Battle to Stop a War (A)

(I think I like this too. Gives some idea of the plot. It’s short and sweet and gives some clever juxtaposition. I could have gone for a little pun. But this is pretty solid.)

Keyword(s) – gunfight; Top Ten by BMeTric: 94.7 Catwoman (2004); 94.7 Battlefield Earth (2000); 88.8 Street Fighter (1994); 86.1 The Avengers (1998); 83.8 RoboCop 3 (1993); 82.5 Highlander II: The Quickening (1991); 81.7 Ultraviolet (2006); 81.2 Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992); 80.7 xXx²: The Next Level (2005); 79.4 Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009);

(Gunfight eh. We’ll finish this off haaaaaaard. I would guess that Stop of My Mom Will Shoot will be on the table for a Stallone Day at the very least.)

Notes – One of Michael Nyqvist last films before his death in 2017. (You might know him as the main character in the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie)

Leading actor, Gerard Butler, sailed aboard the USS Houston (SSN 713) from May 6th to May 9th with director Donovan Marsh for research purposes. They discovered some nuances of a real operating submarine and submarine crew in an attempt to make the movie/script more realistic. (Good, I want that shit to be real for reals)

On June 16, 2015 the Alaska Dispatch News (ADN) reported that after Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed legislation essentially ending the state’s film subsidy program the producers of Hunter-Killer canceled all previously planned efforts to film exteriors for the project in Alaska. (Boom, take that Alaska!)

While aboard the Houston, Butler slept in the XO’s quarters. The director, Donovan Marsh, slept in the enlisted crew’s quarters. (To get both experiences, I get it)

Tony Scott was at one point set to direct. (I.e. at one point someone said into the air “I wonder if Tony Scott would consider directing this”)

While the Russian Captain Andropov mentions his former trainees, one of the names is Alexei Vostrikov – this is Harrison Ford’s character from K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), also a submarine captain. (NO)

McG was also considered for director. (I.e. McG called them up and asked if he could direct the film please)

The Russian submarines are referred to as “Akula” in the film. This is the correct NATO reporting name for the Russian Shchuka-B class of submarine. However, there is a much larger ballistic missile submarine using the “Akula” name referred to by NATO as “Typhoon”. A fictitious “Typhoon VII” was the eponymous ship in “The Hunt for Red October”. Oddly enough the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) used in both movies was called the Mystic and was actually out of service as of October 1st, 2008 making this either a goof on the part of the movie or dramatically changing the timeline out of the present day. (Alternative timelines bro. In this timeline Butler personally oversaw the rehaul of the Mystic DSRV thus making it available for use in the present day.)