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Attack the Block

Attack the Block

What She said:

She

How do I classify this movie?  I’m not even sure.  It’s distinctly British, and you’ll figure that out as soon as the characters begin talking, because their accents often too thick to fully decipher.  It’s also a bit British in its brand of humor—snarky, often subliminal, and dry at times.  But Attack the Block is not a standard comedy, even by British standards.  It’s also a sci-fi film, political commentary, and thriller. 

The film, made by the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz is about a group of nuisance teenagers who live inner-city London.  Their lives, filled with drugs and crime, are turned upside down when they encounter an alien being and kill it.  Soon, more aliens are attacking their building complex, ruthlessly killing anyone in their path.  They’re like giant wolves with glow-in-the-dark teeth and no eyeballs.  Considering some of the comedy in Attack the Block, the creatures are quite terrifying.  The misfit kids take it upon themselves to try to right the situation, and begin slaying the aliens one-by-one.  It’s pretty exciting, and there’s lots of blood.

Attack the Block started a bit awkward for me.  I couldn’t understand what these kids were saying and had a hard time having any sympathy for them.  They were bad seeds, and frankly, I kind of wanted them to be eaten by the aliens.  But as the movie unfolded they began to show a softer side, and I’m hoping maybe they learned a lesson.  Still, I’m not convinced that they’ll all end up on the right path, but I guess that’s sort of the political statement here.  These kids are just products of their neighborhood.  They’re not all bad, they’re just trying to survive, and create reputations for themselves.  There’s intermingling’s of race and class that make this a bit of a social commentary, but it’s also not too heavy because I don’t think the filmmakers wanted to take away from the thrill of the film. 

Nick Frost has a small role in the movie as a drug dealer that the kids visit, and he is, as usual, quite funny.  Surprisingly, these 13, 14, and 15 year olds are pretty decent actors themselves, and convincingly bring personality to their characters.  The film is, overall, smart and thrilling enough to overcome some of its flaws, and makes for a wholly enjoyable sci-fi, horror, action movie.

Thumbs mostly up.

What he said:

He

Attack the Block is one of those movies that may throw your sense off a bit. If you struggle with movies that mix genres, this one may be a challenge for you (though I hope me giving you the heads up will help with that). Don’t get me wrong, action and horror movies have always had some element of humor to them. The one-liner was pretty much born from these genres, so it’s not as if non-comedies can’t have humor. But today, there’s been a shift. A movie might actually be as much comedy as it is action or horror. Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, The A-Team, and Hot Fuzz are good examples of that; funny movies with big-budget effects.

This movie may also throw you for a loop because the group of heroes isn’t exactly the most likeable bunch.

Attack the Block is about group of kids in a London ghetto. They aren’t hardened criminals yet, but are headed down that path. They pretty much like to lounge around, get high, and cause a little havoc from time-to-time. One night when they decide they need some money (or entertainment) they decide to rob a young lady named Sam (Jodie Whittaker). In the middle of the crime, an alien invader comes crashing down into a car from the sky above. Sam sees this as an opportunity to flee, but we’ll hear from her again later. The aspiring criminals – led by Moses (John Boyega) – are intrigued and pursue the creature and let their victim get away. As time goes on, more-and-more of these things come crashing down from the heavens. Everyone soon realizes that they are under attack from creatures from outer space!

This might be a ghetto, but it’s their ghetto, so the group of kids decides to take up arms these monsters. If this sounds a little silly, well it is. But it works, because they movie is actually quite funny at times. Along the way, they end up teaming up with Sam again. She’s forced to put aside her feelings about her attackers in order to save her life.

Interestingly enough, the movie also works pretty well at the opposite end of the spectrum too. The action is pretty convincing and the creatures themselves are quite terrifying. You’d expect monsters from a comedy to be something kind of goofy or campy like in Mars Attacks. But they don’t skimp out on the special effects and it pays off. You get an interesting mix of comedy, action, and science fiction in this movie.

 The biggest complaint I have was that he actors playing the group teens were quite hard to understand at times; particularly in the beginning of the movie. They had very hard British accents. I don’t know if I simply got used to it or they got clearer throughout the film, but in the first 10 minutes I found myself saying, “What are they saying?” more than a few times.

If you can tolerate that and are looking for something that will satisfy your craving for both a few good scares and laughs, I recommend it. It was an odd mix of British and urban humor with some sci fi/horror thrown in.

The kid playing the character named Pest was particularly funny. He had more than a few good lines.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on April 10, 2012.