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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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Louis of France: At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice. 
<p>He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19 and his bride 12, he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children. </p><p>Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta ini Egypt but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years. </p><p>He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. His regulations for royal officials became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court. </p><p>Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II. </p><p>Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis (October 4), caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace. </p><p>Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion. </p><p>Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty. <br />–St. John of the Cross

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