Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Attack the Block A Rowdy Night in the Slums

Attack the Block

If there is one positive thing about the summer of 2011, besides the strong female presence at the box-office, it is that alien invasion films finally have a youthful energy again. Thanks to films such as Super 8 and Attack the Block, a sense of childlike wonder and adventure has come back to the science fiction genre. Attack the Block in particular really raises the stakes by making a group of juvenile delinquents in the slums of London, Earth’s main line of defense.

While making her way home one night, Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is mugged by a gang of teenagers who live in the area: Moses (John Boyega) , Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones), and Biggz (Simon Howard). As the robbery is taking place a creature falls out of the sky and attacks Moses. Enraged, the gang turns there attention to seeking out the creature and destroying it. Feeling like kings of their block, the boys keep the alien’s corpse as a trophy. Little does the group know that the real battle is about to begin.

In many ways Attack the Block is exactly the type of alien film I wish was around when I was a younger. Although I enjoyed other youth centric alien films, such as Super 8, I found that I identified with the teens in Attack the Block more. I grew up with individuals who constantly got in trouble with the law and never saw themselves as being responsible for their actions.


Despite being alien invasion film, director Joe Cornish has two clear themes running throughout the film. The first is that every action has a consequence and everyone, no matter what situation, needs to be accountable for their actions. The second is in regards to how the youth in the slums view gang life and society in general. Moses in particular sees his gang as his family. He constantly makes references to how he is mistreated by the cops and how other people view him and his friends as a black mark on society.

Although the film touches on greater social issues, Cornish never loses sight of the fact that the film is first and foremost an action-adventure film. The creature designs for the aliens are outstanding. It not only gives the film a big budget feel, but also a genuinely terrify villain. The pitch black gorilla-like bodies coupled with the neon blue teeth are definitely unique. In a summer that has been bogged down with uninspired sequels, Attack the Block is truly a breath of fresh air.

15 comments:

  1. @It was interesting to see the film played on our perceptions of the kids involved. At first they come across as little a-holes who would never deserve our sympathy, but then we see them interact amongst each other and they behave like any kids would. And of course there is the little morality lesson of dealing with the consequences of one's actions to tie everything together. A really nice movie.

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  2. I just saw this a few days ago! It was really good. Loved the British touch. The kids were great...you actually believe that they would fight back.

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  3. Where is this playing?

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  4. @edgar – Complete agree about how effect the change is in how we perceive the characters. They are lawless and misguided however, at the end of the day, they are merely kids stuck in a situation far bigger than them.

    @Squasher88 – The scene when they are arming up is great. They are filled with so much false swagger you believe they would run blindly into battle like that.

    @Mike – You can catch the film at the Yonge and Dundas AMC. Speaking of that AMC, are you hitting TIFF again this year?

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  5. Looking forward to see this (on DVD, it's not showing anywhere near me anymore). Hearing a lot of good things about this. Nice review CS!

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  6. @Castor - It is a fun film. The UK slang is not that hard to pick up either.

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  7. Interesting. I live about 10 minutes from that AMC. I will be kicking around TIFF red carpets but probably won't be seeing anything. How about yourself?

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  8. i'm glad it's enjoyable CS, i'm gonna try and see it this week.

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  9. @Mike - I will be seeing 8 films.

    If you are in the downtown area on Monday night you should stop by the blogger pub night (Duke of York near the ROM, 6pm).

    @Toby - Great, cannot wait to read your review.

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  10. I have to find this...

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  11. @Kev D - If you cannot find it in theatres, the film is schedule to hit DVD on the 19th of this month.

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  12. I watched it tonight, and loved it. What a breath of fresh air it is, like you say. I shall be writing a review almost as glowing as the monsters' teeth about it.

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  13. @Colin - Glad you enjoyed it. The film really does offer something different from the usual summer blockbusters. Look forward to reading your review.

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  14. i LOVED this movie. there something about british films and england in general that i think makes movies better. the slang, while not understandable at a few times, was a vital aspect in this movie's success...its almost a character on its own, like the Block.

    the kids are great and for a low budget film the monsters were very appealing.

    great film. couldnt be more pleased after watching it.

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  15. @Phips - The slang did play a vital part of the film's overall vibe. I liked how easy it was to pickup several of the phrases such as "bully van" for "police wagon", etc.

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