Attack The Block

Director: Joe Cornish

Notable Cast: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Luke Treadaway, Alex Esmail

Rating: R

Review:  Every once in a while a film comes along that is such a blast to watch, you really don’t care about any of the intangibles.  Attack The Block is so much that film, genre mashing horror, sci-fi, and action with a zombie defense plot line.  The story is simple: aliens crash-land in a dark English suburb, and it’s up to the local hoodlums to fight them off.  Replace the settings and the characters, and you can reuse this story line film after film (which has been done).  But Attack the Block demands to be remembered, showing all the other poser films how it’s done.  Joe Cornish (Writer/Director) takes an unknown cast of kids, a heavy dose of pop-culture, and boatloads of creativity into what could be the most entertaining film of the year based on a total fun level (on a scale of 1 to Awesome, this is somewhere in the “Swift Kick To The Nuts Leaving You Breathless” category).  From start to finish, I couldn’t keep a childish grin off my face, realizing from an early point Attack The Block was going to be the exact film I wanted it to be.  It’s not easy for a film to deliver so consistently, but Attack The Block proves to be leaps and bounds above the typical survival genre submissions.  Believe bruv.

On the tough streets of a South London ghetto, five teenagers adapt to the lifestyles that surround them.  Pest (Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones), Biggz (Simon Howard) are all led by their fearless leader Moses (Boyega), and spend most their time terrorizing outsiders dumb enough to stumble into their neighborhood.  One night they mug a woman named Sam (Whittaker), but are interrupted when something falls from the sky and crashes through a car.  Moses takes lead and goes to investigate, only to be attacked by a small creature not from this world.  It takes a nice scratch out of Moses’ face, so the group hunt down the creature and kill it on principle.  Taking their trophy, they retreat back into the “block” (the low-budget apartment complex they live in) and look for local pot dealer/National Geographic enthusiast Ron (Frost) to give an analysis of the creature.   But when even Ron is stumped, the kids realize they may have stumbled upon something special.  Then Moses looks out the window, and sees what look like flaming comets landing all over the area.  Wanting to test their metal and prove their toughness, the gang weapons up, and makes it their mission to defend their block from the other worldly invaders.

“Tool up bruv, betta belive’ it’s gon’ be messy.”

Total genre nuts like me are going to go crazy over Attack The Block because of how it relentlessly bombards you with entertainment from second one.  Like a snowball rolling downhill, the film just keeps gaining more and more momentum, never breaking mood. And don’t think because the main characters are children that the film barely offers a mature and whole bodied experience.  Attack The Block fully earns its R rating, even surprising me at portions with some of the brutality of the film.  Cornish really channels the fun, satisfied feeling you get from a great horror film and mixes it with the comedy of a crazy B movie/stoner comedy, but the presentation and delivery bump this all the way up to a full A grade film.  For Cornish, Attack The Block shows extreme promise for his future work as this is only his first directorial effort in the feature film ring.  Everything feels completely professional and well produced, making Cornish look like a seasoned vet behind the camera.  The only thing I can say negatively about this is that Cornish has set the bar so high for himself, I only hope he can follow-up on his debut with a film of the same quality.

Another super strong aspect of Attack The Block is the unknown children’s cast who absolutely knock it out of the bloody park.  Remember the names John Boyega and Alex Esmail, because I promise you’re going to see them start popping up more and more. Boyega was the dominant male lead who keeps hard-nosed the whole film,  and he expertly displays that rough ghetto attitude to perfection.  Esmail on the other hand is the pothead relief, and might be the highlight character of the film for me.  His comedic timing was spot on, and he had me in stitches every time his mouth opened.  Then you take in veteran funny man Nick Frost and up and coming stars in Luke Treadaway and Jodie Whittaker, and you have a cast that works perfectly for this genre.  But the most impressive part was that the script made these kids seem like actual real kids and not fake Hollywood characters.  Whether it was talking about playing the “Fifa” video game or quoting their favorite movies, the characters had real personalities.  A lot of people are also complaining about the quick South London accents and how annoying they are, but I loved every second of it.  The way the kids speak is not only authentic, but hilarious at the same time using their silly sayings and comparisons for comedy.  Can’t lie, I love the British accent and slang usage, bruv.

I also respect and loved the creature design on the film, simplistic yet stylistic at the same time.  They were completely pitch black, showing no features but their fuzzy exterior fur, except for rows of glowing green teeth whenever their mouths opened.  It was perfect because by making them blend so well in with the dark nighttime atmosphere you avoid having poor CGI monsters or cheesy people in rubber alien costumes.  At the same time though, even being not totally visible, when they struck they struck hard, and the danger was apparent.  This made the beasts effectively scary and solidified them as an intimidating force.  This was just one of the many creative choices that made Attack The Block so profoundly mind-blowing.

Plain and simple, this movie rocked my socks.  Thankfully, I’m not the only one that can say it either, as Attack The Block is receiving a ton of critical acclaim also.  Making splashes at numerous film festivals and garnering an impressive 88% on Rotten Tomatoes speaks volumes for a film in a genre that is usually laughed off by most critics.   Cornish created something special that anyone can enjoy, be it a huge fan of the genre (Me), someone like my mum, or extremely tight wound movie critics.  There’s just something about watching these young Brits fight aliens that is too entertaining to look over, and their antics won’t soon be forgotten.  It’s going to take a lot for a film to challenge the amount of pure bliss Attack The Block created in me, and I doubt I’ll see a movie just as fun this year.  Joe Cornish, I can’t wait to see what you and Edgar Wright come up with for the Ant-Man script.  Cheers.

Final Rating: 9.5 “big hairy black gorilla wolf dog motha f#ckers” out of 10

“What’s Ron’s weed room?”
“It’s a room…filled with weed…that belongs to Ron…”


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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5 Responses to Attack The Block

  1. jovanny says:

    at first i was skeptical because the protagonist are little kids i was thinking’s these movie was going to be a spy kids film, wen they kill d the first alien i was man those alien are not scary and their small how can they take over our planet wen they can beat little kids, but then the big ones came and people started dying toes aliens look awesome i love these movie i thinks is one of those movie were people thinks is not that good and their wright is not good at AL ,is foking awesome!!!!!!!!!!!! i love those big hairy black gorilla wolf dog motha f#ckers the movie got action comedy and some great actors i recommend these movie for everyone hue is int little little kids

  2. jovanny says:

    and i love the 50 cent look alike i was expecting him to say IL get rich ore get fock up bye aliens trying

  3. This movie mixes everything I love into one: quick British wit, popcorn flicks, sci-fi/horror comedies, and a boss soundtrack. Not only that, but it rocked at it. You’re not going to find a better alien invasion romp that year hands down. Attack the Block entertained me from start to finish, and I can’t wait to add this one to my collection.

  4. Pingback: 2011: Recap of the Good, the Bad, and Everything Else | Cinema Scrutiny

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