Thursday, February 27, 2014

#1,291. Attack the Block (2011)

Directed By: Joe Cornish

Starring: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail

Tag line: "Inner City vs. Outer Space"

Trivia: Most of the teenage actors were found through their schools and online open audition calls

It’s Guy Fawkes Day in England, and as most of the city is celebrating with fireworks, a student nurse named Samantha (Jodie Whittaker) is nervously walking home through the rough streets of her South London neighborhood. Before she reaches her destination, the young ladies worst fears will become a reality: just down the block from her apartment building, she’s accosted by a gang of teenage thugs, who steal her wallet, cell phone, and a ring that clearly holds some sentimental value. Yet as frightening as this assault is, it pales in comparison to what happens next. As the juvenile delinquents are finishing up, a meteor falls from the sky and crashes into a car parked by the side of the road, completely demolishing it. Samantha runs off, while Moses (John Boyega), the leader of the gang, pokes his head through the car’s shattered side window, thinking there might be something of value inside. Suddenly, he’s attacked by a strange ape-like creature that, after inflicting a nasty scratch on Moses’ face, quickly runs off. A bit pissed that this weird creature, which could only be an alien from outer space, showed him up in front of his pals, Moses and the others follow the creature into a nearby park, where they corner it inside a small shack. Hell-bent on showing this visitor from another world how tough they are, the gang charges in…

It’s a set-up we’ve seen before: less-than-sympathetic characters, hopped up on adrenaline, rushing into a fight against a foe they know absolutely nothing about. Ninety-nine times out of 100, these punks would be turned into alien chow.

So imagine my surprise when, after a brief scuffle, Moses emerges from the shack dragging the alien’s dead carcass behind him! In an interesting twist, these low-life criminals aren’t the obligatory sacrifice to the movie’s mysterious creature. In director Joe Cornish’s 2011 sci-fi monster flick, Attack the Block, Moses and his adolescent band of thieves happen to be the main characters!

Having saved the neighborhood from an alien invasion, our “heroes”: Moses, Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones), and Biggz (Simon Howard), make their way to the top-floor apartment of local drug dealer Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter) for some celebratory weed. Impressed with his bravery, Hi-Hatz even offers Moses a position in his organization, but while the victorious teens are living it up, more meteors (dozens, in fact) are falling from the sky, landing at various locations throughout the neighborhood. Looking to kick some alien ass, Moses and the others head back to the streets. This time, however, the creatures are much bigger, and move a hell of a lot faster. Clearly outmatched and badly outnumbered, the frightened gang hides out in the apartment building where most of them live. But no matter where they go, these ferocious aliens always seem to track them down.

Attack the Block is a hugely entertaining movie, with a number of well-staged action scenes to get your pulse pounding (one of the best scenes has Moses and his crew hopping on their motorbikes and riding along a walkway as the pursuing monsters close in on them). Another of the film’s strengths are the aliens themselves, which, with their razor-sharp teeth that glow in the dark, can be flat-out vicious at times (one of them manages to put the bite on Pest’s leg, tearing it up pretty badly). What makes them even more menacing, however, is that, wherever these teens hide, the monsters always find them. In a strange twist of fate, the group asks Samantha, the student nurse they mugged earlier in the evening (who lives in the same building they do) for help. Angry at first, the young woman has a change of heart when one of the creatures comes barreling through her front door. Along with the thrills, Attack the Block is a very funny movie, and features Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) as a drug dealer with a decidedly laid-back attitude (not even an alien invasion can rattle him).

Some viewers may find it hard to relate to characters who, at the outset, are nothing more than street thugs (Moses gets rough while mugging Samantha, going so far as to pull a knife on her), but if you can look past that, I’m fairly certain you’ll have as much fun watching Attack the Block as I did.

1 comment:

JRATM23 said...

Really liked this movie & one of my favorites that year. The aliens were cool looking & different from normal fare. The plot was well paced & structure as well as story was top notch. Definitely a recommendation to sci-fi fans for something a bit different but fun.