For ages and ages (I have a knack for exaggeration) I have been hearing nothing but praise for Attack the Block from places all over the country. Week after week I continued to check Fandango for Friday releases in hopes that it would finally grace the fine people of STL with its presence, but each week I was left disappointed. Clearly MO isn’t a cool enough state for this slowly spreading release. But I cannot be ignored any longer, and my incessant glaring at Edgar Wright’s tweets about this film has finally paid off because it has finally reached our shores! Shh, we border the Mississippi River; that counts…
Between Cowboys and Aliens and Super 8, Attack the Block is definitely the lesser-known film featuring creatures of unexplainable origins. Personally, I haven’t even seen a trailer for it on TV, nor have I seen any advertisements on the sites I frequent. Which means most of you are probably like I was prior to seeing it and have no clue what it is about. To nutshell it, Attack the Block follows a group of teenage “thugs” who take a time-out from mugging their neighbors in a far-from-gated part of London to defend their home from a sudden alien invasion. That’s right, instead of riding merrily away with a friendly alien in their bikes’ baskets, they surge straight into battle, at least initially.
Joe Cornish pulls double duty as the films director and writer, creating a script that is full of British slang, but still finds an audience with those of us who find humor in the differences in vocabulary (ex. being “going to the loo.” Eh heh heh…). The humor is there in dialog, acting, and just simply situationally, but this is not to say that the film is shallow in any way, actually providing a intriguing story to follow all the way through the end credits. Plus, it adds the additional element of youth vs. “grown-up” situations; not quite to the extent of Hanna, mind you, but entertaining regardless because of their courage to fight the invaders with their fireworks and samurai swords before realizing that this all really isn’t fun and games.
In addition to the British accents and lesser-known actors, Attack the Block stands apart because of its lesser budget compared to these visual effect spectacles. But upon viewing, this is far from apparent. What CGI is included looks well done and does not scream: “I was hatched and raised on the desk of computer nerds!” which is always a plus when the budget is in question. However, the lack of resources does not hinder the production in the slightest, at least from the audience’s point of view. Simplistic choices like use of light, smoke, confined spaces, etc, add to the tension in the scenes, and though the creatures are far from detailed seeing as they are just giant black masses of gorilla/wolf-shaped furballs, they still provide a presence with a “do not f with me” vibe. No wonder the wind was taken from the sails of these “hardened” gang members as they run screaming back to the safety of their homes when going out initially to protect their turf. Don’t get me wrong, when first seeing the creatures I was a little skeptical of the design, not in concern to the choice to make them animalistic, but in concern to their one distinguishable feature. Luckily enough, it is explained within the story, so all was forgiven.
In addition to Cornish, as well as the actors that include Nick Frost, John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker (list of people worthy of mention continues to go on and on), one name that should not be left out is Steven Price, who is responsible for the amazing soundtrack playing over a lot of the scenes. For those of you who saw Hanna, the soundtrack of Attack the Block similarly provides an all around experience in this world, blending stronger beats and old-school sci-fi, horror oriented noises in a way that further emphasizes the blend of culture and genre. For those of you who have not seen Hanna, I will stop mentioning it now (other than it comes out Tuesday so you better rent it!).
Because of the lack of advertising for Attack the Block, at least as far as I have seen, do yourself a favor and take it on the positive opinions of those who have already been lucky enough to see it that this is definitely a film worth seeing; and then do the filmmakers a favor by telling everyone you know about it. It deserves the support.
Final Grade: B+
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