Sunday, June 10, 2012


Attack the Block
May 11, 2011
88 min
United Kingdom (English)

Written and Directed by Joe Cornish

"Attack the Block" is an alien invasion film like we've never seen before. By the end of the night it will likely win over audiences just looking for a good time, but is ultimately redeemed by the lead character/actor.

Remember the London riots that went down last year? This indie British film could not have picked a better/worse time to find an audience. We follow a motley yet adolescent crew of street thugs on a night in the hood. They mug a young white woman (Jodie Whittaker). Then they kill a baby alien. It is going to be a long night, but the film clicks along (to the sensational soundtrack of Basement Jaxx) at a brisk enough pace. That said, "Attack the Block" can still feel long and rehashed at moments.

Teen actors, second only to child actors, can be an absolute curse. The cast here may be young, but they are extremely talented. Front and center is Moses in a terrific lead performance by John Boyega. He gives the otherwise nothing-but-summer-fun film real heart and worth. In fact, if it weren't for him I would have dismissed the film for too much stoner comedy (and the like) and hardly any substance.

I had the blessed opportunity to see "Attack the Block" at a special screening in the L.A. Film School last summer (part of a the former Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith series) . Writer/director Joe Cornish was in attendance. After the Q&A I was able to briefly chat with Cornish about the alien design in this film. Rotoscoping was used to achieve their iconic appearance. We referenced the Ralph Bakshi animated "classic," "The Lord of the Rings." They remain an interesting part of the story throughout. Just wait for a slow motion sequence with Moses being chased, it is one of the best scenes from 2011. (Yes, slo-mo is one of those things I love/hate. There is no in-between. Here I loved.)


CONTENT: strong language, drug content, violence (all involving minors)


Trent said...

First off I really liked this film. I just saw it because of the good reviews and Nick Frost so it was an unexpected and ejoyable movie. Afterwords in a podcast I enjoy, Battleship Pretension, describe it as (paraphrasing): "it's like punk-rock, which stripped down rock n' roll to its very basics to see what could be done with it. The monsters in the film are basically just teeth and claws because that's all that is important, what can kill you." I thought that description was very apt. Great Review.

Joshua Matern said...

I think Slow-Mo can add a lot to the feel of a film when used properly.

J.S. Lewis said...

Trent: After that quote I've got to add Battleship Pretension to my podcast lineup. Thanks for reading!

Josh: Words to live by (or at least make movies by).