Movies take a long time to develop, film, edit and finally release. So it is unlikely that this 2019 Russian film anticipated the disastrous conflict between Russia, Ukraine, and NATO. However, it did get the disaster part right.
It is nighttime in Moscow. Not today’s Moscow, but one in the not far distant future when the city is more vibrant and probably less Putin.
A man, Yurli (Pyotr Fyodorov – “Dead Mountain”), and woman, Alyona (Lukerya Ilyashenko – “Happy End”), are dining high in a luxury hotel. The next thing we know they are in bed together. During that pleasant interlude something happens to the earth. No, not fireworks and exploding hearts; the planet, except for a large area around Moscow, is plunged into darkness. Worse yet, all communications with the rest of the world is cut off.
The remaining Russians soon discover that anyone traveling far into this dark zone never comes back.
Director Egor Baranov and writer Ilia Kulikov have given us a fast-paced adventure movie worthy of any western film producers. And they really give us everything: mysterious isolation from the rest of the world, dead people everywhere, onslaught by Siberian bears, millions of mind-controlled zombies, alien invaders, a re-write of human history, a demonic foe, and a 200,000 year flight by a species-saving Arc.
Is this in the category of previous giants of Russian cinema like “Battleship Potemkin” (1925)? Or the Oscar winning, 400 minute long “War and Peace” (1965)? Perhaps the anti-Stalinist “Repentance” (1984). Or the sci-fi “Solaris” (1968)? Ok – “Tetris”?
Let’s say it’s somewhere between “Solaris” and “Tetris”. Like the Russian game, it has fast action that never stops, and keeps you guessing. Oh, and if a piece doesn’t fit, it shoots you. But like the Russian “Solaris”, it deals with alien powers that manipulate the mind for their own purposes. In short, this is a fun romp as long as you don’t expect too much.
Special effects are excellent, the editing is fast paced and the music enhances the action without overwhelming. There is a plot, but it takes a long time to expose it, and character development is, well, underdeveloped.
So settle back, grab a vodka and your favorite “devushka” or “druzhok,” maybe a “pirozhochek” and watch “The Blackout” on VOD.
The film is in Russian with English subs, or dubbed. I prefer the dubbed because there is so much action that you don’t want to have to look down and read what is being said, in between the grunts and screams, that is.
Director: Egor Baranov
Writer: Ilia Kulikov
Producers: Valeriy Federovich, Evgeniy Nickishov
Cinematographer: Sergey Trofimov, Yuriy Korobenikov
Editor: Aleksandr Ivanov, Igor Otdelnov
Music: Ryan Otter
Runtime: Two hours, seven minutes
Availability: VOD at Peacock, Amazon Video, and others
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