War Horse and The Darkest Hour
When: Sun., Dec. 25 2011
EVERYWHERE—If you've managed to make it through the year without watching the likes of Melancholia in theaters and Falling Skies/ The Walking Dead on TV, don't worry: If Hollywood trends are any indication, you will have approximately 900 other opportunities to deal with the end of civilization in books, TV, movies and video games over the next few years. Indeed, the Black List of best unproduced Hollywood screenplays for 2011 consists mostly of some variation on "zombie apocalypse/alien apocalypse/ apocalyptic apocalpyse." There is probably a long and complicated explanation for this trend, which comes down to a crappy economy and global warming.
The latest of these is The Darkest Hour, written by Jon Spaihts, who also scripted the forthcoming Alien prequel, Prometheus. In this one, a number of slumming young actors (including Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby) play a group of privileged white kids who get stuck in Russia when a bunch of invisible aliens attack. Don't you hate it when that happens? There is some potential for real suspense and social satire here, but I for one am getting sick of the world ending all the time. If you really want to experience it, turn off all your power and live out of cans for a few days, then realize how excellent it is to have hot water and toilet paper.
The other major release is War Horse, Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the young adult novel-turned-play about a lad who desperately seeks out the horse that was taken from him to serve as a mount for soldiers in World War I. He just loves that horse so darn much! The production was inspired by the hugely popular play now on Broadway, which I tried to see when I was in New York but couldn't get tickets. Seriously, people were scalping them for like a grand on eBay. Supposedly there is a life-size horse puppet that is just amazing, and grown men are reduced to tears by the thing. To find out if a similar effect will be induced by actual or CGI horses, you'll have to head to the cinema. Please keep in mind Spielberg has this and his Tintin film out and is producing a bunch of TV shows and other films and is 65 years old. Feeling like an underachiever yet? Check theater listings. —Zack Smith