Attack the Block is officially my movie of the summer and possibly the year. It’s is like season 4 of The Wire except it takes place in South London, with a grittier Gremlin and Goonies thrown in for good measure. But this is more than an aliens attack story; it’s a film about redemption, friendship, inequality and social commentary (all without being too politically serious).
Check out my spoiler free love letter to Attack the Block after the jump.
Attack the Block was written and directed by newbie Joe Cornish and produced by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). It was released in the U.K. May 11th and has received tons of praise from critics. It was shown at SXSW this year and won best film and for a very good reason, it’s so damn good!
Summary via Wiki:
“Set on a council estate in South London on Bonfire night, the film follows a street gang, Moses (John Boyega), Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones) and Biggz (Simon Howard). While they are mugging nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker), a fiery object falls from the sky, crashing through the roof of a nearby car. When they investigate, they discover a creature from the meteor and they kill it. Soon more aliens crash-land and the gang has to defend themselves and their council estate from the alien invaders.”
Cornish boldly opens the film by painting the kids in a bad light. We don’t automatically love them; in fact we don’t like them at all. They not only mug a woman at knifepoint, but kill a creature in cold blood. Moses (the strong silent leader), Biggz (the youngest), Dennis (the hype man), Jerome (the thinker) and Pest (the loud mouth) all display surprising depth that’s typically covered up by their tough guy act. Their bravery and courage are genuinely believable which can’t be said for most monster flicks. But it’s lines like, “Right now, I feel like going home, locking my door and playing FIFA.” that remind us just how young they are.
Even with the hints of social commentary, AtB is effortlessly funny. Our, now very likable, “hoods” are hilarious in the most natural way. The jokes aren’t forced, set-up or even seem like jokes at all. Their energetic personalities and subtle nuances are the driving forces that make AtB so funny and utterly entertaining.
It’s also essential to mention the other handful of characters that helped make AtB, dare I say again, so damn good. Sam, the nurse, is the adult that gets the most screen time and she adds some much-needed estrogen to the teenage boy packed scenes. It’s ultimately her approval we seek when deciding whether the boys have redeemed themselves.
Then there’s the pot selling “watches a lot of Discovery Channel” Ron played by Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Paul and Hot Fuzz). He’s as funny as expected, but he doesn’t have that much screen time. There’s also the token rich I-just-come-to-the-hood-buy-pot white boy Brewis played by Luke Treadaway, who I like primarily for the music he blasts in his headphones and his bad luck. My favorites are Probs (Sammy Williams) and Mayhem (Michael Ajao). They are the two lovable tag-a-long kids everyone knows whether you live in the hood or suburbia.
The Attack the Block’s soundtrack is ridiculous in the best way possible. The collaboration between the British house music duo Basement Jaxx (Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe) and Steve Price (Lord of the Rings trilogy soundtrack) is incredible. The score is practically a character itself.
I won’t say too much about the interplanetary beasts because I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that less is definitely more when it comes to their design. You also don’t have to worry about waiting until the end to see the alien for a total of three minutes of screen time (*cough cough* J. J. Abrams (I still love you though)). It starts “raining Gollum’s” as one of the kids puts it, within the first 15 minutes and we see them plenty of times throughout. Although there isn’t tons of horror or gore the aliens do provide us with some cringe worthy scenes, one that even prompted an applause from the audience.
Attack the Block shows us you don’t need a big budget to create an exciting quality sci-fi film. It’s refreshingly unHollywood and it’s not just because it’s British. It also taught me two things: Kids don’t need adults to save the day, thankyouverymuch. And I now plan on adopting Brixton slang and will start and end all my statements with the word “trust”.
Joe Cornish may have created a cult favorite by skillfully blending adventure, comedy and aliens to tell a redemption story about inner city Brixton boys. It’s authentic and realistic through and through, and yes I’m fully aware that is movie is about aliens that crash-land from space and terrorize South London.
Trust, I’m not saying you should see Attack the Block, I’m saying you must. Trust.
How to see it in the US:
It seems Hollywood thinks that American audiences are too stupid to understand a thick British accent and that Attack the Block won’t make money. Thankfully Sony/Screen Gems picked it up and will release the movie in major North American cities starting July 29th. They also have a few free screenings before then, which is how I saw it thanks to Gofobo; so just keep checking their Facebook Page, Gofobo and good old Google for more information.
The movie’s success outside of the U.K. relies heavily on word of mouth, the more people promote the film, the more the demand will go up and the more cities it will open in. If you get to see the movie and you like it tell everyone especially your buddy Internet.