A change in locale is no substitute for an original plot, creative creatures, or exciting action. This lesson was lost on the makers of The Darkest Hour, an alien invasion/monster attack movie that feels like a SyFy Channel movie with a bigger budget.

The characters in The Darkest Hour are as paper-thin as they come, but here's the background. Young adult buddies and business partners Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) are in Moscow to promote their website -- which is ripped off by their former partner Skyler (Joel Kinnaman). The guys then meet up with American tourist Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and her Australian friend Anne (Rachel Taylor) at a bar --where they also bump into Skyler. And that's when the aliens attack!

Starting at floating lights drifting down from the skies, the creatures quickly drift in and out of invisibility, attacking people and turning them instantly into dust. The five main characters survive for a few days in a food locker, then emerge to find Moscow extremely empty. They set out to find more survivors, and hoping to find out how to defeat the creatures. They learn more about the aliens: They are more visible at night than the daytime, conventional weapons slow them down but don't kill them, they can't see people through glass, and when the creatures approach they activate and nearby electrical devices. They also run into other characters (including a spunky young girl and an eccentric scientist), find weaknesses in the aliens, and get killed off one by one.

The only original part of The Darkest Hour is that there's no pattern of predictability to who survives and who gets killed. Otherwise, it's extraorginarily familiar. The aliens kill people instantly -- unless it's more dramatic (and in this movie, that means slow motion) for a creature to grab and drag a character for a few seconds. The whole "the streets and buildings are deserted" has been done more than enough times for it to be less than scary. None of the characters develop any real personality, and when we finally see the aliens they look lik estandard CGI creatures. It also bugged me that the characters learned early that the monsters can't see through glass, yet they don't bother to bring any glass with them through the most alien-infested areas. The Darkest Hour may have aliens based on electricity, but that alone doesn't keep it from being very dull.

Overall grade: D-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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