Attack The Block
Director: Joe Cornish
Cast: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost
Review by Brian M. Sammons
It sort of seems like 2011 was a banner year for alien invasion flicks, it’s just too bad that the majority of them either stunk on ice or were completely forgettable. How ironic that in that field of overblown blockbusters, the one movie that did it the best is the one that did it for the least amount of money and is least known, at least here in North America. I’m talking about Attack The Block and if you haven’t heard of it, don’t fret, a lot of people haven’t. So I’m now going to do my part to try to rectify that grievous oversight with the following review. You can thank me later.
Attack sets the story and action at a public housing project in London. The stars of the show are young hooligans, I take it they are often called hoodies in the UK, and true to form, all of the young punks do stroll about wearing hooded jackets. In fact, when we are first introduced to them, they are mugging a woman at knifepoint. Yeah, charming, these are exactly the kinds of guys I want to hang out with for the next hour and a half. But as the story progresses, this band of young ruffians show what they’re really made out of when they defend their block (read as: big, old apartment building) from a horde of truly monstrous and memorable invaders from the cold depths of space.
Perhaps the best thing about this movie is the aliens. They are completely black, hairy, bestial hunters that radiate pure menace. The only part of them that you can clearly see is their glowing, electric blue teeth, and boy do they have a lot of teeth. In the pantheon of impressive cinematic sci-fi baddies, these blue-teethed, black-furred monsters can stand proudly, shoulder to shoulder, with any alien ever caught on film. I enjoyed every second they were on the screen, and I’m sure that the fact that they were practical effects, that is non-CGI creations, must have had something to do with that.
But more than just kick ass critters, this movie has great characters, something a lot of movies forget is important when they’re blowing millions of CGI eye candy. All of the punks turned heroes do a good job portraying both tough guys and frightened children, a hell of a thing to pull off well and something that many adult actors fail to get right. The best of this bunch would be John Boyega who plays Moses the leader of the hoodies. I hope he continues acting because I can see a bright future for him if he does. But hey, that’s not to say that the grownups are anything to sneeze at in this movie. Over the last few years I’ve become a big fan of Nick Frost and it’s good to see him here, although he doesn’t have the biggest of parts to play.
One thing, this is a very British movie, and by that I mean the accents are thick and the colloquialisms are many. Now if you’re familiar with films from the UK then this probably won’t be that big of a deal, but I do know some folks from this side of the pond that do have a problem understanding English when spoken by the English. However please don’t let that stop you from seeing this very cool flick. After all, it does have subtitles.
I saw this movie on Blu-ray and it simply looked stellar, but that’s par for the course from Sony, who invented the BD format. There is also a nice collection of extras on this disc to appease the fans of behind the scenes goodies. There are three, yes three audio commentary tracks. The “junior” one with writer/director Joe Cornish and the young stars of the show, a “senior” one with the director and the more mature cast, and a producer commentary with the director and producer, Edgar Wright. There’s the typical behind the scenes featurette that runs a very respectable hour long, there’s a twenty minute special on all of the creature effects, and a very short collection of interviews with the young actors called “Meet the Gang.” The typical collection of deleted scenes is missing from this package, but they have been replaced with a conversation with the writer/director on what was cut and why, complete with storyboards. A few trailers and two minutes of the teen actors rapping (why?) round out the impressive list of extras to be found on this Blu-ray disc.
Attack The Block was a fun film with surprisingly good young actors, a new spin on an old story, some well-done moments of tension and fear, lots of funny parts, and very memorable creature design. It’s an old school creature feature from an unlikely source, complete with very unlikely heroes. I highly recommend it.