Attack the Block

28 Aug

Title: Attack the Block
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Joe Cornish
Writer: Joe Cornish
Starring: 
John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway, Nick Frost
MPAA Rating: 
R, creature violence, drug content and pervasive language
Runtime:
88 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 
89%

Attack the Block is one of finest films of 2011 so far, it’s really as simple as that. And even though I was looking forward to it a great deal to begin with, because it had some great buzz surrounding and, most importantly, because it came with producer Edgar Wright’s seal of approval, I really wasn’t expecting to love this film as much as I ultimately did. Edgar Wright is one my favorite directors, so the fact that he was supporting this project meant a lot, and he clearly has a lot of trust in Joe Cornish, who’s making his feature-length writing-directing feature here, as the two collaborated (alongside the equally awesome and geek-friendly Steven Moffat) on the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming The Adventures of Tintin, as well as in the one for the Ant-Man adaptation that Mr. Wright has had his eyes on to direct himself for the past few years. So that meant Attack the Block was a must-see for me, but again, no matter how much faith I had in it, I wasn’t expecting such a sensational film full of very-British wit and a terrific visual style that make for one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory.

Attack the Block sees aliens arriving to a South London housing project in these pods that are camouflaged in the sky as it’s Guy Fawkes Night and there are fireworks going off all over the sky, making the arrival of the fiery pods most inconspicuous to the naked eye. And what’s awesome about Mr. Cornish’s style is that he wastes basically no time at all in building up some sort of setup to tackle the alien arrival, but instead he introduces us fairly quickly to this bunch of sort of reprehensible teenagers, led by Moses, who are busy mugging Sam, a young nurse who’s returning home after a night shift. And just then we have the first alien landing. And it’s awesome that the movie does that because it means that it adapts this insanely awesome fast pace from the very get-go and instead of wasting precious time with exposition and getting to know the characters it introduces that main event from the very beginning and it speeds off, and we’ll get to meet this crew at the same time as they battle these new foes and try to protect themselves, their block and their weed. Not to mention that the nurse decides she’d be safer staying put with these thieves.

This is pure entertainment, stylishly done in the tradition of those B-movies of some three decades ago, that had the cast of unknowns and the special effects that weren’t top notch but that still looked awesome and just had that tangible energy that elevated the film to tremendous heights of fun. Not to mention that it was a terrific decision by Mr. Cornish to have it all take place in that housing project, because that meant the location got to become sort of like an extra character, and it meant our characters were in their home turf, so we get to really meet them as best as we could. And Mr. Cornish has done a fantastic job at crafting these characters, as those criminals become individuals who we feel for and we start liking quite a bit, and the alien attack for them becomes sort of like the ultimate learning experience, as many of them discover a lot about themselves and what they have to offer. And the way we achieve that familiarity and sympathy for them is terrific, as it’s in the midst of jokes and action set pieces that Mr. Cornish starts adding layers to their very distinct personalities and that we start caring a lot for them.

And not only are the characters pretty awesome, but this cast of unknowns is also pretty damn wonderful at playing them. John Boyega, who plays Moses, does a seriously spectacular job. Because it’s Mr. Boyega who really draws you into this film and allows you to really care not just about Moses, but also about everyone else, he was a truly fortunate find by Mr. Cornish, as we believe Moses as the leader of the pack, we believe his great knowledge of the block and its residents and how he always seems to find the perfect way to deal with them. Other than Moses we also get to meet a mixed group of individuals, and they all work splendidly in all sorts of levels, from the nurse, to the rest of the gang, to the crimelord of the area, to the drug dealer of the block, Mr. Cornish has done an insanely satisfying job of providing some really neat characters and identities.

I loved this movie, it’s one the year’s best and it seriously establishes Joe Cornish as a very talented writer-director to keep an eye on. And it’s no wonder that he’s friends with Edgar Wright, you get the feeling that the two are cut from the very same cloth, two guys that clearly have a lot of love for a lot of films, and they use them as tremendously useful inspiration points in their own work, and much like Mr. Wright’s masterful debut, Shaun of the Dead, this is a film that manages to be truly hilarious without ever once feeling as a spoof, but instead managing a pitch-perfect blend of comedy and thriller. Attack the Block proves that you don’t need to be a hugely-budgeted film with an A-list cast to be one of summer’s most exhilarating and best movies, you only need to know how to execute your formula and have the right people to do it with. This film achieves all of that to the highest of levels, the fact that it does so with a nifty local jargon that will remind you of the one in A Clockwork Orange is but an added bonus.

Grade: A

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: