Today: July 19, 2024
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Attack The Block

Kids today, eh? If they’re not selling drugs or mugging people they’re fending off an alien attack, at least that’s the story in Joe Cornish’s directorial debut, Attack the Block.

Kids today, eh? If they’re not selling drugs or mugging people they’re fending off an alien attack, at least that’s the story in Joe Cornish’s directorial debut, Attack the Block.

Set in the grimey council estates of ‘Sahhhf Lahndan’, off-duty nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is on her way home when a gang ‘murk’ her. NOTE: In order to translate the script of this film, you may need to spend a week reading the entire Urban Dictionary beforehand. In the middle of this murking, an asteroid destroys a nearby car, the gang’s leader, Moses (John Boyega), investigates only to be attacked by the alien creature lurking in the wreckage.

Looking like the extra-terrestrial lovechild of a hyena and Gollum, the alien is slaughtered by Moses who proceeds to drag the carcass around town, showing off his kill to the local ladies. Convinced it will make them rich and famous, Moses and his cohorts head for the safest place they know to store the body: the grow room in a local drug den run by Roy (Nick Frost). When more asteroids fall on the estate, they tool up and head out to protect the block of flats they live in but the latest alien invasion is made up of something much tougher than the corpse lying in the weed room – remember the Cup-A-Soup hug monsters? Well, add glow in the dark, razor-sharp teeth and jet-black fur to the mix and you get some of the most badass aliens we’ve seen in cinema for a long time.

Retreating back to the block, the boys run into Sam, who must now help her muggers in order to survive and posh twonk stoner, Brewis (Luke Treadaway).

Boyega’s performance as hoodie hero Moses stands out and is wonderfully nuanced with flashes of both menace and vulnerability. Many will say that there’s a lack of character development in the script but the film takes place over one night, how much change can you get out of a cast of characters like Moses and his gang? The fact that the boys don’t feel the need to redeem themselves will convince people that Attack the Block glamorises gang violence when in actual fact, Joe Cornish is playing to the reality of the environment and side-stepping the inevitable social commentary the film will spark from the Daily Mail.

Whittaker, Frost and Treadaway are all fine support for the young newcomers, providing much needed moments of levity amongst the cat scares and carnage that the aliens bring, but they don’t have too much to actually do. The simplicity of the script is at times a blessing as it streamlines the film and doesn’t let it fall into clichés but it also leaves gaping holes that characters alone can’t fill, they need a sense of depth as well as things to do.

Cornish has definitely been influenced by Spielberg and Carpenter but has created more of a creature feature than an out and out alien invasion movie. It’s not plot heavy, there aren’t dramatic character revelations around every corner and there aren’t budding romances between unlikely characters. It’s simple and to the point: aliens are scary and they want to kill you.

It’s a really enjoyable film that younger generations will get a lot out of but if you’ve grown up on scifi classics then Attack the Block really isn’t going to show you anything new or especially impressive.

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