Movie Review: Attack The Block
Director: Joe Cornish
Reviewed: 29 January 2012
jamesintexas rating--*** (4 Stars = Highest Rating)
Attack The Block moves along with a steady clip: fast dialogue, pulsating soundtrack, lots of camera movement, and no waste of time at getting to the heart of the matter. Aliens. Dark, shadowy ones. Eyes that end up glowing in the dark and turn out to be teeth. Within five minutes, Moses (John Boyega), a 15 year old roaming the streets with his mates, mugs a lady Sam (Jodie Whittaker) in their building, nearly dies fighting an alien that crash lands on a car next to him, and, after smashing it to death with a baseball bat, proudly carries its carcass back to show everyone on the block. That's five minutes in.
Essential subtitles make the dialogue fun and easy to comprehend (the teens call the alien a "Dobie" or a "Gollum," at times), and the plot involves an alien invasion in one neighborhood of London with a punchy crew of kids who are determined to fight back. The relationship with the woman they mugged in the first five minutes evolves into an eventual friendship, Nick Frost's pot-dealer views everything going with a distinct level of insouciance, and the aliens follow the boys, kill some of them, and somehow manage to get Moses in trouble with a local gangster.
Special effects are well-done, and there are moments that are quite scary. The kids are fun and there are stakes once a few of them start getting bloodied. Two smaller kids in the neighborhood provide comic relief. There are some awkward attempts at social commentary (Moses raises himself because his uncle isn't around; kids shout at the cops at the end, "You always arrest the wrong guy!" and one speech which mentions guns and drugs being used to kill black males rings especially false at the moment of its delivery), but I liked seeing the kids race around the neighborhoods with samurai swords and baseball bats, in a twisted version of E.T. where Elliot and the neighborhood kids go to war with the invaders. This could have been kids with uzis and automatic weapons, and I really liked that they didn't go that way because the kids simply wouldn't have had access to those weapons. One kid spends most of the film in a dumpster, unable to escape from a disgruntled alien.
It feels about right.