Thursday, October 6, 2011

Inner City vs Outer Space

Director: Joe Cornish
Writer: Joe Cornish
Starring: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost
2011 | United Kingdom | R | 88 mins

A group of young thugs led by Moses (John Boyega) are out prowling their block during Guy Fawkes Night. They come across a lone woman (Jodie Whittaker) walking home and proceed to mug her when what was definitely not a firework comes crashing down and obliterates the car next to them. The woman escapes during the confusion but the street thugs investigate the vehicle and discover an alien creature which they then kill and take up to the local drug dealer's top-floor apartment for safe keeping, hoping to make a couple of bucks of the discovery. But when more extraterrestrial things fall out of the sky under the cover of the fireworks, it's inner city versus outer space as the kids decide to take on the invasion to save their home and retain their street cred.

Attack the Block emanates a youthful energy that flows throughout the entire film from beginning to end. It's fast paced, exciting, scary when it needs to be, and smartly written combining non-stop action, witty dialogue, and characters you actually end up caring about. Joe Cornish proves a considerable emerging talent by successfully breaking taboos and stereotypes and setting up a film with characters that you wouldn't normally find yourself rooting for. The kids aren't friendly to outsiders, they stick to their guns, but their drive to survive and save each other in times of danger engages the audience. There's an honesty here that normally you don't see in these types of films and that sets the bar real high right off the start and thankfully Cornish doesn't let the film lose this energy.

The film puts these kids in danger, and the danger is palpable and real and not glossed over. Some of them get hurt, some of them get killed, this is not safe material and a ballsy move a lot of films shy away from, exaggerate, or ignore, but Attack the Block successfully pulls this off. The aliens themselves are very ferocious creatures, like small pure black grizzly bears with row upon row of neon blue fangs, who through both practical effects and seamless CGI take on a life of their own and are truly one of the most inventive and believable alien creatures we've seen in cinema in a long time.

The thing that sets Attack the Block apart from other alien attack fare is its sharp writing and direction. Dialogue is fast, funny, vulgar, and realistic and the kids sound like real kids. It is not censored or watered down, this is how these kids would talk, and each of these characters is unique and comes out. The young cast are all spot on and great to watch. The action, while fast and frenetic, is also expertly crafted and you can tell exactly what is going on. Suspense is actually sustained, humour is weaved into to all the right bits, and the story is as engaging as it is entertaining. Very rare is a "kids versus creatures" film what it should be and Attack the Block is easily this generation's Monster Squad and one of the best of it's kind.  It's is a pure blast from start to finish.

All contents copyright 2011 Tyler Baptist

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