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Attack the Block

by

Jeff Nelson

Attack the Block is a solid film that I recommend checking out.

Attack the Block
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Science fiction, horror, and comedy very rarely get very much appreciation from moviegoers. Most of them come across as tacky and amateurish. However, there have been a mass amount of alien movies being released in multiple countries all around the world. The United States in specific has been really focusing in on this genre. Studios have been trying to cash in with The Darkest Hour, Skyline, Battle: Los Angeles, District 9, and others. The UK has a bit of a different approach to filmmaking that Americans don't get to see everybody. Some of this is due to the comedic aspect of some of their flicks. Films such as Hot Fuzz deserved to be popular in the United States, but many Americans didn't quite understand very much of the British humor. Attack the Block is another effort from the United Kingdom to mix laughs, scares, and social commentary.

When aliens attack a South London neighborhood, a teen gang pulls together to protect their turf by any means necessary. Extraterrestrials prove far more formidable than anyone they ever jumped on the streets. Generally speaking, these movies end one of two ways. Either the aliens win and all of our usually idiotic characters die or the humans win and there's a cheesy ending with our heroes stating how they learned something through the invasion. Thankfully, Attack the Block dares to be different. While the story is pretty much the same as most alien flicks I have seen, it has a unique take on it. As I previously mentioned, this isn't just a horror film but does involve some comedy to the mix. Fortunately, the film knows when it needs to be serious and when it's necessary to throw some jokes into the script. Neither one takes over the film more than the other. You may be asking yourself, "Why would we care about what happens to a gang?" While we don't begin the film having a positive opinion of them, we see more of who they are as people. Teenagers with serious problems in their lives and their energy and efforts turned to crime when there was nothing else to turn to. This doesn't forgive the characters for the actions they take, but it humanizes them and shows that they're flawed beings, just like everybody else. Putting the character arches aside, the action is constant. There isn't a lot of downtime in Attack the Block. There are a few chase sequences and constant battles between the gang and the aliens. The ultimate resolution makes sense and isn't too far of a stretch as to why the aliens are there. We are left with a surprisingly entertaining film with a script that is better than most American efforts at the genre.

Most of the actors in Attack the Block are unknown. This is the first film quite a few of these actors have starred in. Whether you live in the UK or the US, you're sure to recognize one of the supporting roles if you have been paying any attention to movies such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, or even Paul. Nick Frost performs as the gang leader's weed dealer Ron. He isn't in the film for very long, but is the cherry on top of the movie and adds some additional humor. The rest of the cast is suitable for the dialogue. None of them are ground-breaking, but they're convincing enough for each of the roles they posses. The fact that there aren't very many familiar faces is actually an advantage to the filmmakers. They are much more believable in the characters since the audience doesn't recognize them as roles from other flicks. The acting here is just fine.

Each filmmaker who creates an alien film usually has a different take on how these creatures look and behave. Director Joe Cornish has created a different type of alien than most audiences are used to. These have bodies like gorillas and fur darker than night. They have no eyes, but have neon-glowing and razor sharp teeth. These creatures are more vicious than those seen in many other movies. They don't have reasoning and are simply aliens that want to kill everybody who gets in their way. However, they look fantastic. I never once doubted or felt the need to criticize the appearances of them. The visuals all look great. There aren't any cheesy effects to be seen, although I expected more from the audio quality. While it's crisp and clear, it isn't as aggressive as I was hoping for. There are surround effects when called upon and the bass sounds good, but isn't very loud. Don't expect this to become demo material, but the audio isn't bad.

It's unfortunate that Attack the Block only received a short and limited release in US theaters. It's certainly the underdog of this genre. It isn't a big Hollywood blockbuster, but it's much better than most of the alien flicks that haven been thrown on American viewers, such as the crap known as Skyline. The plot itself isn't too original, but it brings new elements to the table. It's entertaining and never drags. I had a good time watching this film and it deserves more recognition than it currently possesses in the United States. Attack the Block is a solid film that I recommend checking out.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

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