Monday, January 30, 2012

Aliens Invade Moscow in "The Darkest Hour" (Manila next?)

In the Dr. Who series, in the event of an alien invasion, the creatures from distant worlds prefer to start by infiltrating or destroying London. Big Ben was demolished in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks and in HG Wells’ novel the aliens also battled the humans in England.

In films over the last 60 years—King Kong, Soylent Green, Superman 2, Ghostbusters, Armageddon, Godzilla, Independence Day, Cloverfield, I Am Legend including the aforementioned Mars Attacks and the film version of War of the Worlds—the city of New York remained a perpetual favorite target. In Dragon Wars and Battle Los Angeles, the city of choice was Los Angeles—yet another favorite city to demolish.

In the upcoming film, “The Darkest Hour,” director Chris Gorak promises us “something different” from the usual alien invasion films. For one, the action is set in an “exotic” location—that location being Moscow. In a special presentation that coincided with the weekend of San Diego Comic Con 2011, Director Gorak took members of the press on a tour of storyboard images from the film as interpreted by comic book artists—including Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night) and Pia Guerra (Y: The Last Man).

The director and crew were all very excited to set a story and shoot in the backyard of producer Timur Bekmambetov (Nightwatch, Wanted). The main characters are set up in place where the language, geography, cityscape and culture are unfamiliar and well, “alien” to them. “Come see Moscow. Worthy of destroying," producer Tom Jacobson has said in many an interview.

Second, these won’t be the usual aliens that may resemble insects, amphibians, cephalopods, or the typical large headed creature with the small nose and gigantic black eyes. These aliens are invisible.

Gorak says—“Normally with most kinds of invasions, you feel safest during day, you can see the dangers around you. In this scenario, the it’s safest a night.” That’s because the aliens react to electricity. The humans get to see them at night because of the (yellow-orange) light they emit.

The male leads are Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer, Into the Wild), Max Minghella (Social Network and incidentally also the son of late director Anthony Minghella) and Joel Kinnaman (Swedish American actor who appeared in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; and soon to play Lancelot to Kit Harington’s Arthur). All three were on hand at the presentation with Gorak, Jacobson and another producer, Monnie Wills.

The story begins with two American software entrepreneurs (Hirsch and Minghella) arriving in Moscow to do business, only to find out their deal has been sabotaged. They go to a club to temporarily bury the thought of the treachery. However something bigger and more treacherous is happening outside—lights appear in the night sky, and there goes the neighborhood. The aliens arrive.

The main cast is rounded out by Russian actors who have worked with Bekmambetov before: Dato Bakhtadze who was “The Butcher” in “Wanted” and Yuriy Kutsenko who played Ignat the incubus in “Nightwatch.” They are joined American actresses Olivia Thirlby (Juno) Rachael Taylor (Transformers).

How do these chaps in a strange land survive? How does the Russian homeland resist these invisible invaders? We’ll just have to find out in The Darkest Hour.

At the close of the presentation, while Gorak went on about the thrills of shooting in different and exotic locations for an alien invasion, some journalists inquired after a possible sequel. To which I uttered, “Invade Manila!”

Hmmm. Alien invasions. More fun in the Philippines. Now there’s an idea that deserves another go.

P.S. Here are my photos of Joel Kinnaman and Emile Hirsch.

1 comment:

  1. It got on 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch. Here's my friend Manuel Genato's review: "Finally, Moscow, jewel of the Moskva River is the target of nebulous energy-and-minerals-devouring aliens. The city, never seen in such gorgeous desolation is the star of this formulaic and lightweight sci-fi thriller. The young cast is lightly drawn but keeps cheesy lines to a minimum."