Movie Review: Attack the Block

Attack the Block

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by Stefan Abrutat

We seem to be in the grip of a spate of alien invasion movies. With last week’s release of Cowboys and Aliens, and the recent Super 8, Battle: Los Angeles, Monsters, District 9, Skyline, Paul and Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, this subgenre of science fiction is exploding. Every few months a new breed of aggressive multi-mandibled beasties plunge through our stratosphere to begin kidnapping, or eating, or breeding with, or experimenting on (or all four) any earthlings in their path.

Attack the Block is made by the same people that gave us Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, which means I expected a good ride and some hearty laughs, and I wasn’t disappointed. The plot involves a gang of teenage muggers who take up arms to defend their rundown London housing project during an alien invasion. The aliens, in this case, are black splotches of fur with double rows of giant, luminous teeth, that arrive individually in personal meteors. It’s Guy Fawkes’ Night in Britain, when the country explodes in firework displays to celebrate the foiling of a 17th century plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. It’s these displays that camouflage the arrival of the aliens and the leftover fireworks supply our protagonists with some convenient firepower.

Our anti-heroes don’t exactly inspire much empathy in the beginning, when they mug a student nurse called Sam (Jodie Whittaker) on her way home. But as the plot thickens and twists, the requisite compassion does seem to turn up, involving you with the characters and drawing you into the story. This is deft film-making of a rare caliber, which is a surprise from a first time director in Joe Cornish, who also wrote the sharp and observant script. The entire cast of gang members, led by Moses (played by an electrifying John Boyega) are also first time actors, which makes this immersive feast even more the exception. A turn by Nick Frost as Ron, a middle-aged drug dealer gives the flick some much needed star power; indeed, it was his presence that encouraged me to go to see this wonderful film in the first place.

Rating: R. Running Time: 1 hr 27 minutes.

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