A screenplay is the skeleton of a film, and in movies, as in life, a structure with weak or old bones can be a lumpy, torpid pile of mush.
For a peak example, there’s “The Darkest Hour.” The second feature from former art director Chris Gorak (“Fight Club,” “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas”) has a fairly interesting premise, a murky but appealing visual style, some effective sound design and a cast that’s better than average. But it’s a chore to sit through, even at a mere 89 minutes.
Emile Hirsch (“Into the Wild”) and Max Minghella play software developers visiting Moscow for a business deal that goes bad. They’re drowning their sorrows at a trendy club with two fellow English speakers (Olivia Thirlby from “Juno” and Rachael Taylor) when balls of energy start floating down from the sky and zapping all sentient life forms into ashes.
As written by Jon Spaihts (who’s also penning the new Ridley Scott film “Prometheus”), these characters and the other survivors are dog-tired stock types going through the genre-movie motions and spouting expositional dialogue at every turn. They may be the last hope for humanity, but it’s hard to care less about what happens to them.