REVIEW: Attack the Block

Posted by under *like, Movies |

Attack the Block is a new British film written and directed by Joe Cornish and executive produced by Edgar Wright of Shawn of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs the World fame. The story pits teenage London street thugs against an alien invasion. The film made a lot of noise at festivals this Spring, which led to rumors that it would be released with subtitles in the United States due to concerns that Americans would not be able to deal with all the British slang featured in the dialogue. Thankfully, the version I saw was not subtitled and while I may not have understood every bit of dialogue I don’t think it hurt my appreciation of the film. I will mention that there was one Pokémon joke during the movie that I heard repeated aloud by probably five people because the person next to them had missed it the first time.

The movie follows a gang of teenagers in London who go from mugging a young nurse to fighting off an alien invasion during the course of an evening. The characters start off remarkably unlikable with the leader of the pack, Moses, aspiring to be a drug dealer. As the movie progresses, we slowly learn more about the kids and their lives. As a result Cornish manages to inject a great deal of heart into the kids as they grow as characters even though the events take place over the course of only a few hours. One of the most appealing elements of the film is the novel ways the kids find to defend themselves.

Another thing I really admire about the film is the aliens themselves. The movie is clearly not made on a blockbuster budget and as far as I could tell the use of CGI is extremely limited. Cornish uses darkness and clever camera angles to make his alien suits frightening. The aliens themselves which resemble “monkey-wolf-dog things” with glowing teeth move like real animals rather than men-in-suits. I was genuinely impressed and wish more filmmakers relied less on CGI.

This may just be the easy comparison to make, but Attack the Block in many ways is the Shawn of the Dead of alien movies. It’s a British movie that Nick Frost and Edgar Wright are involved with that manages to be terrific and funny, while also being true to its genre. Attack the Block, however, is without a doubt more intense than Shawn of the Dead. The aliens definitely manage to be more frightening than the zombies in Shawn, while the gore level is fairly similar.

It was interesting watching this film during the same week as Super 8. The movies have many similarities in the way they pit children against aliens. I liked Super 8 overall, but Moses and crew would beat the wannabe Goonies from Super 8 senseless and I much preferred the aliens in Attack the Block to Cloverfield Jr. in Super 8. While Attack the Block also manages to inject some emotion into its story, it does so without Super 8‘s overwhelming use of nostalgia.

At the end of the screening, it was mentioned that the film is scheduled for a limited release in late July. They suggested that if you’re someone who would like to see the film play as widely as possible, then you should go to Facebook and ‘like’ it. So feel free to do so. The film is of particular note to the typical comic book fans who visit MLD, as Joe Cornish is writing Marvel Studios’ upcoming Ant-Man film with Wright, which I suspect will be one of the first post-Avengers movies to be officially scheduled.

Enjoy the trailer below.

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