Thursday, February 27, 2014

#1,291. Attack the Block (2011) - Spotlight on England

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, student nurse 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 is accosted by a gang of teenage thugs, who steal her wallet, cell phone, and a ring that 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. Samantha runs off as 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 is 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 from outer space - showed him up in front of his pals, Moses and the others follow it into a nearby park, where they corner the alien 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 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 teen criminals don't become 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, additional meteors (dozens, in fact) start falling from the sky, landing at various locations throughout the neighborhood. 

Anxious to kick some more alien ass, Moses and the others head back onto 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 motion picture with a number of well-staged action sequences to get your pulse pounding. One of the best scenes has Moses and his crew hopping on their bikes and riding along a walkway as the pursuing monsters close in on them. Another of the film’s strengths is the aliens themselves, which, with their razor-sharp teeth that glow in the dark, can be flat-out vicious; one even manages to put the bite on Pest’s leg, tearing it up pretty badly. What makes them even more menacing, however, is that wherever the 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 also a very funny movie, and features Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) as Ron, 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 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.


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.

Eric Gilliland said...

I recommend this film to people who are down on modern movies. It really does channel early Spielberg - ET. Gremlins, The Goonies. Other movies that came to mind were The Warriors, Escape From New York, and Do The Right Thing.

CpT GoThMcLaD said...

No matter how many times I hear people refer to Moses as a hero I just don't see it he's the epitome of scum and I don't think he goes through any kind of redemption the only line in the film which really rings true for me is when one of the chavs is jumping around telling Jodie whittaker how heroic they are and she turns round and reminds him that they're so heroic it took all of them to mug her. I really wish she'd let the cops cart Moses off in the end then he would have gone through a redemption arc for sure. Wanted to like this movie but struggled

Mr. Menagerie said...

Gotta agree with the Captain on this one. I struggled as well, and don't think I succeeded. The premise is sound, but I think would of worked much better with a more likeable/decent set of characters. The combination of slang and young punk attitude and bravado, pulled drown the promising elements of original indie Creature Feature SciFi/Horror. Jodie Whittaker's role wasn't enough to buoy the film up for me. Sadly.

Barl3y said...

Absolutely loved the film, Moses's redemption had just begun at the end of the film. I don't see why the previous posters were expecting the movie to tie up his redemption at the end in a little bow.

Life is far from that simple and would have simply been unrealistic.
I think Joe Cornish did well with a strong debut movie.