ENERGY hungry aliens descend on Moscow this week in 3D invasion flick The Darkest Hour.
When American software developers Sean (Emile Hirsch) and Ben (Max Minghella) visit the Russian capital for a business meeting, a bungled deal finds them drowning their sorrows in a Moscow nightclub with tourists Natalie (Olivia Thirlby) and Anne (Rachael Taylor).
But their trip goes from bad to worse when invisible aliens begin turning revellers into dust.
Stranded in Russia with no method of communication, the group attempt to find other survivors in the derelict city.
But with only electrical items proving to be an early warning system against the unstoppable invaders, can they survive?
Too much to handle?
Chris Gorak may not seem the first choice for an epic scale, special effects laden extravaganza considering he only has the microcosmic low-budget bomb fear flick Right At Your Door on his directorial CV.
Sadly, even with Timur Bekmambetov - the OTT director behind such visually excessive fare as Night Watch and Wanted - donning his producer's hat for solid support and a gaggle of Hollywod's up-and-comers, Gorak's sci-fi take fails to live up to expectations.
A promising start at full-throttle quickly declines into a snails pace, as an often seen 'traipse across a deserted city' becomes as aimless as the plot.
Innovative threats, such as danger of daylight, are touched on but never really exploited; while clumsy exposition and a crude tonal shift from reailty-based fears to computer game gunplay is jarring.
The acting also fails to impress.
A usually on-form Hirsch occasionally stumbles into over-acting mode, while Thirlby fails to effectively convince as a female lead.
But that is mostly down to a repetitive script (run, hide, mourn; run hide mourn, etc) rather than the protagonists' shortcomings, and is balanced by the rest of the troupe.
Filmed in eye-gouging 3D using specialist cameras rather than opting for the often inferior conversion process, TDH also struggles to stun visually despite plenty of alien-invading scope and body-turning-to-dust potential.
But the occasional out of focus shot pales in significance to the disappointing aliens once they are finally revealed, as shoddy CG and uninspired creature design culminate in an under-whelming nemesis.
Where The Darkest Hour excels is in the stunning locations.
The relatively cinematically unused Russian city goes beyond simple Kremlin shots (although they are included) to offer impossibly abandoned street shots secured courtesy of the powerful producer.
While CG enhancement is apparent, Moscow has never seemed so eerily quiet, ramping up the isolation successfully.
As a piece of mindless fun The Darkest Hour is sure to meet most requirements - alien peril, mass devastation, etc. But despite such a visionary producer and an accomplished cast on board, it certainly isn't out of this world.
5/10 - Dim.
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