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Attack the Block (2011)

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Score: 8/10

Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.

Release Date: August 19th, 2011 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Joe Cornish Actors: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Luke Treadaway, Leeon Jones, Paige Meade, Flaminia Cinque

A

unique and innovative take on the alien invasion scenario, “Attack the Block” mixes humor and horror to relate it’s tale of misfit kids and malevolent monsters. The competent child actors and inventive creature designs help the film stand apart from its brethren, but it’s the clever contrasts and presentation that make the film so entertaining. Vicious hoodlums soon reveal themselves to be misguided youths, rampaging aliens aren’t necessarily the most hostile denizens of the neighborhood, and harrowing standoffs reveal heroism in the unlikeliest of places. The theme of deceptive appearances surfaces often in the film, but even when the expected situations inherent in monster movies arrive, they’re revealed with fresh, funny ideas – and plenty of accent-laden profanity.

When a small, grotesque alien crash-lands in a rough London neighborhood, it’s quickly discovered and beaten to death by Moses (John Boyega) and his gang of young thugs. The motley group soon realizes their mistake as more otherworldly monstrosities begin invading their “block,” but this time tripling in size and ferocity. As the creatures slowly whittle down the gang’s numbers, the desperate survivors must join forces with their friends in the building, along with bitter nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker), to make a final stand at “Ron’s (Nick Frost) Weed Room” against both the advancing monsters and a vengeful drug-dealer.

It’s constructed like a B-movie monster flick, but the humor is intentional and the villains genuinely frightening. Like many American creature features, there’s an underlying satiric message within the screenplay, here voicing the beliefs that violence and poverty begets violence and poverty and that hoodlums are the go-to targets for blame and persecution from law enforcement. This is especially emphasized when the origination for disaster is an alien invasion. The social commentary is cleverly laced into cultural British references, slang, gang stereotypes, drugs, rap, and pervasive crude language. The cast’s rapid-fire dialect warrants some sort of subtitle or translation, which is never accommodated; much of the jive will be lost to unfamiliar viewers.

Director Joe Cornish infuses a remarkable rhythm into the editing and action choreography in the form of high-energy acting, music (both narrative and as listened to by characters), and slow-motion. Many scenes are entirely comedic thanks to careful cutting, focusing on footsteps/bicycles/doors/stairs, or characters miming songs. The film is made even more original by the setting and the use of authentic youths in the leads, who contribute humor through dialogue that sounds completely genuine. These kids are practically portraying themselves. On top of that, the creature effects are brilliantly designed to avoid the use of computer graphics, making them more realistic, tangible, menacing and less likely to noticeably deteriorate with time.

– The Massie Twins

 



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