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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Darkest Hour

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Olivia Thirlby and Emile Hirsch star in the thriller "The Darkest Hour."
In an earlier era, "The Darkest Hour" (Summit)—a weak entry about plucky youngsters running away from invading aliens—would have been marketed as cheap thrills for drive-in moviegoers.

That era having passed, the flick is instead being retailed as a collection of expensive 3-D thrills, a ploy that only serves to highlight its stale plot. As sketched for us by director Chris Gorak and screenwriter Jon Spaihts, said story line depends on characters making bad decisions about going through the deserted streets of Moscow to see whether someone will get blown up by those aggressive intruders.

Moral behavior, for good or ill, doesn't enter into it.

Sean, Natalie, Ben, Anne and Skyler (Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor and Joel Kinnaman, respectively) are Americans visiting the brightly lit Russian capital for a variety of purposes. Just as everything starts hopping at a noisy disco, though, the aliens, in the form of lethal golden balls of microwave radiation, drop from the heavens like so many untoward versions of Peter Pan's Tinkerbell.

They promptly suck all the power from the electrical grid and all electronic devices, and display further bad manners by slaying folks—right, left and center. The first time it happens, it's perhaps morbidly interesting to see someone explode in a shower of 3-D crystalline flakes. The second, third and umpteenth time, not so much.

The aliens always give themselves away because their presence makes the lights flicker. So it's relatively easy to hide from them.

Viewers of any cinematic taste, however, would be better advised not to seek them in the first place.

The film contains action violence and fleeting profane, crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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