Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Attack The Block

Gangsters and Aliens

Director: Joe Cornish
Writers: Joe Cornish
Cast: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway, Jhn Boyega, Alex Esmail, Jumayn Hunter

Attack the Block image still

SYNOPSIS: A group of young thugs in London's East End trying to make their mark in the "block" come across and kill an alien creature. When bigger, more ferocious and fearsome versions of that alien arrive, the thugs must do all they can to protect the neighborhood against the invasion.

REVIEW: What do you get when you combine Boyz in the Hood, Critters, Alien and Die Hard? The answer is the $13 million dollar budget British import Attack The Block. Written and directed by Joe Cornish, Attack The Block follows a group of hoodlums, who during a mugging of a young woman Sam (Jodie Whittaker) are interrupted by the crashing of a meteor into a nearby car. Scavenging through the wreckage, the leader Moses (John Boyega) is attacked and the animal gets away – only to be killed by the gang and taken to their weed dealer for safe storage. Suddenly, more meteors rain down on the neighborhood and give the gang more chances to kill more aliens. But this time, the aliens are fang-filled, pitch-black furred monstrosities that won’t be killed by firecrackers and baseball bats. Retreating back to their Block, an East End projects apartment building, they must face the attacking aliens, the police and an angry drug dealer Hi Hatz (Jumayn Hunter) thinking the crew is after his turf.

For the money, the story is slick, the dialogue is quick and sharp (and British!), and the noir-haired “gorilla, wolf muthaf…” are well made. What do you do when audiences have seen every alien species ever created by the movie industry? You design shaggy gorilla-shaped creatures that are so black that they can’t be rightfully seen, even when killed and slumped on top of a coffee table in the flat of a well lit living room. The only thing you do see is their hulking fleeting forms and luminescent rows of pointed fangs.

Made on a shoe string in this world of $200 million dollar filmmaking, Attack the Block makes up in ingenuity what it lacks in Summer blockbuster CGI graphics. The monstrous furry aliens may lumber around like a person in a rented gorilla costume at times, but Cornish uses them to great effect. With no eyes and luminescent fangs, a darkened corridor can become dangerous as the razor sharp start to glow in pursuit. Cornish also knows how to build the suspense as the thugs and the tenants find themselves trapped in the projects apartment. With the clever use of dimmer knob-timed apartment hallway lights, the anti-heroes and innocents find themselves facing the darkness sooner than expected as the ticking of the timed switch fade the lights to black. And when Pest (Alex Esmail) uses his fireworks in the confines of the halls to repel the beasts, the resulting smoke adds a touch of dread as he and his gang edge their way to safety.

In addition to the suspense, the story is riddled with comedy. Pothead Brewis (Luke Treadaway) and dealer Ron (Nick Frost from Hot Fuzz and Paul) supply their own hazy outlook on the situation. Pest, once he softens up to nurse and fellow apartment dweller Sam, starts eying her as a possible flatmate. When one of the thugs need to call home to promise his mum to be home by 10pm, all the while fighting off alien invaders, is as light as it is tense. The only drawback were the gangster wannabes Probs (Samm Williams) and Mayhem (Michael Ajao) who follow the older crew around the block. Their benefit to the story was as much of a misstep as the massive mistake of casting Skids and Mudflaps in Transformers: Rise of the Fallen as comic relief.

As I have said, for the money, Joe Cornish and his London East Ender anti-heroes fighting against extraterrestial invaders supplied enough smiles, suspense and substance to surprise me. Attack the Block is certainly not the must-see for everyone, and may not live up to the cult static of other British imports like Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, but if you enjoy B-movie sci-fi comedies, Attack the Block is 'seriously' out of this world!

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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