In a minority of markets… in a handful of theaters across the county, there’s a little movie opening that isn’t based upon anything. Isn’t a continuation of anything we know. Instead, it’s a wholly original film by Joe Cornish, a director that you should probably snuggle up next to and get used to loving. I’ve got a feeling about this guy.
I came to ATTACK THE BLOCK late. I missed the screenings of the film that took place during SXSW due to my own screening hosting duties during the festival which conspired to keep me as far away from this little injection of awesome. Perhaps they were keeping me safe. Trying to make sure that I didn’t get too excited and end up hurting myself. I don’t want that.
So months have passed and everybody I know. All the film bloggers, the folks at AICN, local Austin film geeks and then there’s those famous folks I know – and everyone was talking about ATTACK THE BLOCK.
I’m lucky, I saw the movie before SONY SCREEN GEMS started cutting trailers that feature many jewels of moments that play great if you’ve seen the film, but out of context… I’m not sure that the trailers have given you a clear picture of what exactly ATTACK THE BLOCK is.
If you think about most invasion films. It usually happens to High School Seniors & College Kids… or Young grotesquely bright science geeks that work with a military and government on a global scale problem.
ATTACK THE BLOCK is more B-movie than that. It dips its hands into the formula, but transports it to a Block that we steer clear of. This is a ghetto. A poor district in London where young teens begin hustling & shaking down folks on the street. They’re just a couple years shy of becoming the scum that we try to scrape off the street by putting them behind bars and forgetting about them. These are kids unchecked. Lying to their parents and families about their actions – all in the attempt to gain some manner of Street Cred. They rename themselves, disguise themselves – and they’re young enough to think of themselves as invulnerable. These are kids that will fight, that can be scary – and there isn’t a pussy amongst them.
I know – they don’t sound likable. At the beginning of ATTACK THE BLOCK, they are not. I found myself hoping they were going to be wiped out quickly. I wanted them in jail, punished for the way they treated our lead female character. And – the aliens that come, that’s exactly what they’re there to do. Metaphorically speaking.
What ensues is a tremendously entertaining film. One of the most purely exhilarating genre efforts seen in a theater in a very long time. What makes it that is how it constantly defies expectations, makes you reassess character dynamics and relationships oh… and has a score that will have you bobbing your head to the film while tapping a toe. This film rocks. No character is necessarily safe. Danger is clearly and brutally shown. But the most amazing thing happens. That character you hate most – we’re going to have a transformation of feelings for over the course of the movie. MOSES – the leader of the pack, played by John Boyega… well, he’s just the entire ball of wax. He is charismatic, charming, threatening, powerful and as a character and as an actor, this film is like his coming out party. He shows us so much as a kid, man, thug & hero. That kind of transformation is tremendous to see work perfectly in a film.
Another thing I love about the movie is the dynamic with the Aliens. These things are blackness and glowy teeth. They look like some crazy matte-black gorilla furred & sized nightmare. As the movie plays – you’ll learn more and more about these critters. You’ll have such scientific expertise as the local druggie and his pot pal to help us learn more, and well… you learn enough.
Now – the one guy in this movie you’ll know is Nick Frost. He’s the local druggie dealer – chill and calm living in a fortified pot growing unit in the Block. Nick is effortlessly fun here.
The real jewel of the film though are the kids. I feel they are kids. When the shit hits, they’re scared shitless – trying to figure out how to handle the situation. They don’t trust the cops or the government. Being raised in the block doesn’t give one a lot of respect for authority. When you call the cops – you get taken away. So they have to handle this themselves. Nobody has ever lent them a hand, and they do like they always do… they help themselves and protect their turf, thus they try their best to protect those in the BLOCK.
But they’re kids… and sometimes fireworks & waterguns just isn’t enough… sometimes it is, if you use them right. I’m being deliberately vague here… its important to go into this movie just knowing, some shit is gonna hit the fan – and these kids will curse, they will be around dangerous substances and situations – and parents are likely to worry for these kids constantly… but in many ways – this is an urban GOONIES… instead of rich stuff, it is ALIEN SHIT.
I’ve seen the film twice now. It was even better upon second viewing and that will just continue. The film has rich characters, a refreshingly fun take on an old genre standard and you get to learn how to fight something new – if it ever happens to come true.
The film opens tomorrow in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and Austin…. All in just one theater each. Although in Toronto it opens in 2. If you gripe about wanting films without outrageous quarter Billion dollar budgets, that use imagination and old fashioned badass filmmaking techniques to make a movie far more investing. A film where you feel characters die. Where you root for their success. Where you hold your breath hoping for the best. Where they make you laugh hysterically. Where you suddenly find yourself caring about characters you shouldn’t care about. Because they’re not you up there. They’re the bad guys, except upon closer inspection, they just rule.
ATTACK THE BLOCK is THE Alien movie to see this weekend! Check your local listings and see it, or the movie won’t be seen everywhere else. The success of this movie is in your hands. This is a supremely satisfying audience experience. Help it get to more audiences. This is a movie for film freaks like us to rally behind. To support. To campaign for. There are so many quotable lines & moments. I really am enthused that folks finally get to see this thing! Too much madness for any review to contain.