December 12, 2011

Attack The Block

A Stub Hubby on DVD review

Attack the Block is another thrilling, funny, stylish, well-crafted UK import: Goonies vs Aliens?
A gang of bored, tough-on-the-outside London teenagers defend their housing project tower block from a horde of killer beasts from outer space.
The gang, led by alpha dog Moses (50 Cent lookalike John Boyega), is in the process of mugging a young nurse Sam (Emily Mortimer lookalike Jodie Whittaker) when a meteorite crashes into a parked car. Moses is attacked by a slimy beast which emerges. Pride wounded, Moses hunts and kills the beast, but this is only the beginning. Dozens of meteorites follow, and the gang gathers a makeshift arsenal and prepare to defend their turf, while dodging the police on one side, and their tower's drug lord Hi-Hatz on the other. We're intimidated at first, but we quickly discover the gang is a bunch of goofballs who'd rather be playing FIFA on the XBox or trying to impress their would-be girlfriends than mugging; while everyone is talking and insulting each other simultaneously, I was reminded of The Goonies or E.T. Moses is the strong, silent type: Boyega exudes leadership. When Moses is arrested by two cops in a riot van, he says nothing as they tackle him and slap on the handcuffs. Moses spots one of the ravenous creatures approaching. After the cops read him his rights, he replies calmly "you better hurry up and put me in that van." Clint Eastwood couldn't have sounded cooler.

The aliens are unlike any creatures I've seen in a monster movie before. That was a big plus. The action makes effective use of the concrete jungle of the housing project, up and down the elevators, and the endless flourescent hallways.
The movie feels completely authentic to the inner-city poor Londoner experience, their attitudes, and the social dynamic is well explored within the context of the movie too.
And maybe best of all, the screenplay structure is airtight. All of the details fit together perfectly, and the internal logic of the movie all pays off in the end. The ending is realistic yet satisfying.
Attack The Block was written and directed by Brit comedy veteran Joe Cornish in his feature directing debut; he has co-adapted the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's Tinin movie (with
Steven Moffat and Edgar Wright.)
Note to my American Readers: I understood about half of the rapid-fire South London dialect. I expected this going in, so I was not surprised, and I never misunderstood a plot point because of it. If you rent it on DVD, perhaps the close captioning could help, but I'm giving this an A grade even without the benefit of complete comprehension.