The Last Sci-Fi Blog: The Amazing Awfulness of 'The Darknest Hour,' Contemplating a Cumberbatch in Our 'Trek' and More

The Last Sci-Fi Blog: The Amazing Awfulness of 'The Darknest Hour,' Contemplating a Cumberbatch in Our 'Trek' and More

Jan 06, 2012

The Sci-Fi News: 'Akira' Put On Hold, Portman and the Wachowskis Team Up and Kanye West Rambles About 'The Jetsons'

After years of swapping directors, failing to land stars and transforming anime fans the world over into tightly compacted vessels of rage, Warner Bros. has pulled the plug on the American remake of Akira. Again. Certainly, anyone with a fondness for the original dark/bonkers/kind-of-amazing 1988 film will breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate the non-tarnishing of an undisputed classic of the genre. I suppose Warners took a look at the books and decided that dystopic sci-fi biker and mutants movie is not the kind of thing that will light the American box office on fire…at least not for the cost of $90 million. Director Jaume Collett-Serra (the madman behind Orphan) is meeting with studio heads to discuss lowering the budget, but I hope we can all assume that this project is dead in the water.

The Wachowskis are making a science-fiction movie called Jupiter Ascending once they finish up their adaptation of Cloud Atlas, due for release later this year. Natalie Portman is in talks to take the lead. You officially know just as much about this film as I do. Say what you want about the Matrix sequels, but Speed Racer is the best movie you never gave a chance to and there is no way I'll miss anything that these scattershot geniuses pull out of their brains.

We've already covered this here on Movies.com, but I think it deserves a special mention here just because, well, just because. In the midst of a bizarre Twitter rant, talented hip-hop artist/overgrown man-child Kanye West revealed that he was asked to be the "creative director" for the infinitely-gestating Jetsons movie. I don't like The Jetsons and I run hot and cold on Kanye himself, but I'll tell you this much: let Kanye West make a Jetsons movie and I'll sixteen tickets on sheer principle. I have no idea what the heck that will look like.

The Sci-Fi Review: 'The Darkest Hour' is a Special Breed of Bad

The best thing about science fiction is the lack of boundaries: you can do anything you want. On the flipside, the worst thing about science fiction is the lack of boundaries: you can do anything you want. In the case of The Darkest Hour, that anything is stranding a group of irritating American hipster-types in Moscow just as our planet is invaded by invisible aliens who eat our electricity and turn us into ashes through physical contact.

Let me be up front about this: The Darkest Hour is a terrible movie. It has the production value and scope of a Syfy Channel production, alien adversaries that look like they escaped from a PlayStation 2 game and a central performance from Emile Hirsch that rides a bizarre line between grassy apathetic and endearingly dopey. And it's in 3D. And the 3D is awful. There is no reason to pay $15 to see this thing happen to you in a movie theater.

However, I heartily endorse The Darkest Hour as a last-minute $1 Redbox rental, grabbed in haste after you've swung by your local liquor depository to stock up for an evening of self loathing. You will drink. You will struggle through the first hour and fight back tears of boredom as you watch Hirsch and his compatriots bicker and scream and get murdered and make far too many bad pop culture references. Then the last thirty minutes will happen and if you've timed things right, you'll be drunk by this point.

The Darkest Hour goes off the rails in its last act in a way that can only be described as Absolutely Freaking Bonkers. It feels like director Chris Gorak just said "F*ck it!" and stopped caring about making a film that existed in a world that in anyway resembled our own or made logical sense. Let's just say that the last half hour involves homemade microwave guns, Russian stereotypes battling aliens on horseback, and the most inane cut-to-credits musical choice in recent memory. It's a cavalcade of amazing terribleness.

You really can't make any excuses for this disaster of a movie. It's incompetent on every level, and Gorak, who previously made the very small and impressive Right At Your Door, deserves a few years in Director's Jail for letting this thing happen on his watch. Still, if you're a connoisseur of all things terrible, there is no reason to not give this thing a glimpse. Just don't give it too much of your hard-earned cash money. 

The Sci-Fi Horizon: Wait..Who is the villain in 'Star Trek 2'?

This is technically a news piece (and Movies.com has previously reported it right over yonder), but I think we need to talk about it in a little more detail, so I'm sticking it down here: Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as the villain in JJ Abrams' soon-to-shoot Star Trek 2.

Cumberpatch being cast in Star Trek 2 is not a surprise: this is a man whose star is on the rise in a huge way, especially in geek circles. A lot of people will be introduced to him when he appears in Peter Jackson's upcoming Hobbit films, but people with good taste in great television (like me and you, dear Movies.com reader) already know him from the BBC series Sherlock, where he plays the titular character. It's a genuinely great show; one of, if not the best adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories ever produced and Cumberbatch nails the role in a way that Robert Downey Jr. can on dream of (you'll always have Tony Stark, Robbie). So, uh, yeah. He's absolutely terrific and he'll fit perfectly into Abrams' renovated Star Trek universe.

But the buzz is that he's been cast as "the villain." The villain who was going to be Benicio De Toro and then Edgar Ramirez. The villain who was all but confirmed to be the legendary Kirk-nemesis Kahn. After all, Kahn was played to perfection by Ricardo Montalban, who has seemingly forever defined the character's race and appearance.

Could Cumberbatch play Kahn? Yes. Absolutely. Kahn's race has nothing to do with the character. Kahn was a great villain because he fought dirty, nearly destroyed the Enterprise, killed Spock and came pretty close to wrecking Kirk's existence. Cumberbatch may not have Montalban's physicality, but he can play devious, dangerous and cunning with the best of 'em and that's what I want out of my Kahn…

…if they choose to make the villain Kahn, which still sounds like a terrible idea. If anything, I'd love to see Cumberbatch play a treacherous Vulcan or something. Man…Cumberbatch really looks like a Vulcan. 

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