August 28, 2011

Movie Review: Attack the Block

Here is a movie that arrived in a (too) limited number of theaters with a lot of buzz surrounding it. Well, in the circles I frequent from the fringe it had a lot of buzz, most others I know had no idea what Attack the Block was. In any case, the movie played to some rave reviews at SXSW. I recall seeing a few tweets from film writers who were upset they were unable to attend one of the screenings, while others went on about how good it was. So, when I had the opportunity to see it, I entered the theater with certain expectations and I just hoped not to be let down by hyperbole.

As it turns out, I needn't have worried. This combination of action, science fiction, and horror (with a few comedic touches) delivers. Joe Cornish's Attack the Block is a movie that is clearly influenced by a number of films that have come before such as Critters, Goonies, Warriors, and even Assault on Precinct 13, but the resulting melange still feels fresh and original. The movie is energetic, fast paced, thrilling, and a whole lot of fun. This is how you make an alien invasion movie.

What is the story about? Well, it starts with a young woman, Sam, walking home at night, alone. She is accosted by a group of teenage thugs and robbed. Little do any of them know that this is just the beginning of what will become a very long night. No sooner has the robbery taken place, something crashes down on a nearby car. This thing that crashes down turns out to be some sort of creature. This being's arrival is just the precursor to an all out invasion of extraterrestrials.

While the city of London celebrates with fireworks, the aliens land undetected and begin wreaking havoc. The teens and the woman they robbed become unwitting allies as they search for places to hide, as temporary as they may be, and trying to figure out a way of fighting back and defending their beloved housing block.

You can say that the teen thugs are not ideal heroes, but then again it does offer an interesting entry angle as we learn about these kids. They are no angels, but they are not exactly bad guys, victims of circumstance, perhaps? Whatever the case, it does show that people are not always what they seem at first, demonstrated by this bunch's change in attitude. Granted, they are never allowed to forget their earlier transgressions as Sam is does not play the cowering victim and is ready to stand up for herself.

Attack the Block may not be the best movie you see, but it is one to be enjoyed and savored. It is one that I believe will have plenty of rewatch value. I particularly liked the theory for why the aliens came to Earth. I also liked Nick Frost's understated role. Not to mention the simple, but cool creature design. This movie is nothing but fun.

Highly Recommended.

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