Sunday, 15 May 2011

Attack the Block

***
Although it comes from the same production team (with Edgar Wright taking an Exec-Producer credit) this is not Shaun of the Dead with aliens. Although comically-inclined, the onus is more on the action than the comedy. Citing the likes of Critters and Gremlins as inspiration, writer and director Joe Cornish wondered, growing up in the eighties, where all the British creature films were. He has a point because there weren’t any.

It’s bonfire night and a South London tower block is being attacked by alien invaders. Mankind’s only hope is a gang of rude boy teens.

The young cast is impressive and most of them first-time actors. John Boyega gives good value for money as brooding antihero and leader-of-the-pack, Moses. Joe Cornish must be praised for a script that is fearlessly uncompromising when it comes to the term “antihero”. There’s nothing cuddly about these kids. The biggest laughs come from the smaller kids who dub themselves the unlikely monikers of Probs and Mayhem.

There’s nothing really wrong with Attack the Block. The story is told competently and it’s cinematic. It all works perfectly well, but for me it’s missing a secret ingredient. It’s good but it could have been delicious. I understand there are budgetary constraints so I wasn’t expecting Independence Day. Budget isn’t everything. On this scale of film-making inventiveness is key, especially with such ambition. But the set-pieces are a little lacking in imagination. It is sporadically amusing but generally the comedy is a bit flat.

Still, it’s a good debut for Joe Cornish. I wish the film well and sincerely hope it finds an audience. (Especially with teenagers. They’ll love it.) With unprecedented high percentages on rottentomatoes.com and a great response at SXSW I’m sure it will.

By the way, the editing is AMAZING. (Awright Amos.)

1 comment:

  1. Like the general feel of the film. Harks back to great eighties cinema before cgi forced action films into spectacle pissing contests. Carpenter has been channelled exceptionally well throughout and the aliens are original and belie their men in monkey suit origins (bar a couple of shots at the end)....... however I can't get past the hideous nature of the main characters. Cornish may argue his point as much as he likes but unrepentant knife-wielding nurse muggers do not a hero make. I don't ask that my protagonist is clean cut and of high moral worth but it helps when they are a few steps away from reprehensible.

    Cornish may have spent some time getting to know kids from the street and his dialogue is spot on but having spent time on estates there are plenty of young kids he could have modelled his gang on who aren't such complete cunts.

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