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In Time / The Darkest Hour Double Pack DVD

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In TimeAs a storyteller, Andrew Niccol tends to think big, tackling heady subjects such as genetic predestination (Gattaca), the nature of reality (The Truman Show), and celebrity in the cyber age (S1m0ne). In Time, Niccol's first film since 2005's Lord of War, has a typically gigantic premise--a world where everyone over 25 years old must pay for every continued second of their existence--but stumbles in the execution. While the ideas are exceedingly clever, the telling isn't especially witty. Justin Timberlake stars as a goodhearted but desperate minimum-wager trapped in a society where the rich are essentially immortal and the poor see their lifespan shorten with every purchase. (A cup of coffee costs 4 minutes, taking the bus also takes 30 minutes off of your life, and so on.) After being gifted with a century by a mysterious benefactor, he begins a romance with a beautiful socialite (Amanda Seyfried), whose father holds the key to the entire monetary system. Matters are complicated with the introduction of a relentless time cop (Cillian Murphy) with his own motivations for restoring the unnatural balance of things. Niccol has fun laying out the aspects of a world where even the elderly are genetically frozen at age 25 (the scenes where Timberlake interacts with his mother, played by a disturbingly spry Olivia Wilde, are an unsavoury hoot), but has difficulty translating the ingenuity of his concept to a compelling narrative, which rapidly devolves into a mix of uninspired chase scenes and a succession of time-related puns that would have trouble passing muster on a Laffy Taffy wrapper. (The bad guys threaten to clean Timberlake's clock. Repeatedly.) While science fiction aficionados will find much to chew on in Niccol's askew reality, In Time never quite hits the marks that its own ideas suggest. As a film, it's more fun to think about than watch. --Andrew Wright The Darkest HourFancy a sci-i movie where you can shift your brain to neutral, and just sit back and watch an alien invasion take place? Then The Darkest Hour presents itself as a fine candidate for a blockbuster night in front of the television. There's nothing massively radical about the concept. A bunch of five young Americans find themselves in Moscow, just as the world finds itself under the threat of alien invasion. As such, The Darkest Hour trains its focus on its principal quintet, as they battle to survive. Which, as you've probably correctly guessed by now, is all the excuse needed for a mixture of special effects, a few thrillers, and a fun hour and a half of mayhem. The Darkest Hour doesn't quite have a blockbuster-level budget. The picture sparkles in particular, with the lively visuals benefiting enormously from the clarity of a 1080p video transfer and don't overlook the workout your audio system gets, either. This is a loud, fast film, that's happy to put any half-decent surround sound system through its paces. It gladly does so, too. Awards aren't going to be lavished at the door of The Darkest Hour anytime soon, but it's an enjoyable film, that notwithstanding. In fact, it's an enjoyable film that's just as entertaining second time round. And while occasionally the economy of its budget is evident, The Darkest Hour nonetheless punches above its weight. --Jon Foster

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A double bill of sci-fi thrillers. In 'The Darkest Hour' (2011), invisible alien invaders have seized control of the world's major cities, seemingly intent on sucking dry any source of electrical energy. In Moscow a handful of young survivors, including Luke (Emile Hirsch) and Holly (Olivia Thirlby), struggle to get to grips with this unseen enemy and soon find themselves locked in a desperate fight, not only for their own lives, but for the future of humanity itself. 'In Time' (2011) is set in a near-future world in which time, rather than money, has become the ultimate currency. With the ageing gene switched off, people don't age past 25, but there is a catch: they are genetically engineered to live for only one more year, unless they can afford to pay to stay alive for longer. Will (Justin Timberlake), a young man from the wrong side of the tracks, is accused of murder after unexpectedly inheriting a fortune of time from a recently-deceased millionaire. Forced to fight for his life, he takes the beautiful Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) hostage in a desperate bid to escape from the powerful and corrupt police force known as the Time Keepers.

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