Attack the Block
dir-scr Joe Cornish
prd Nira Park, James Wilson
with John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost, Luke Treadaway, Jumayn Hunter, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Sammy Williams, Selom Awadzi, Danielle Vitalis
release UK 13.May.11
11/UK Studio Canal 1h28
Attack the Block
Let's hunt some aliens! Boyega (centre) and friends

whittaker frost treadaway
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Attack the Block First-time feature filmmaker Cornish invests plenty of energy and humour into this alien invasion thriller, apparently going for a Shaun of the Dead tone. And while it's not that funny or coherent, it keeps us entertained.

On her way home in South London, trainee nurse Sam (Whittaker) is mugged by Moses (Boyega), who is then attacked by a small ape-like creature that has fallen from the sky. After killing it, Moses and his pals take it to the 19th floor flat of their drug dealer (Frost), who's working for the unstable mobster Hi-Hatz (Hunter). But things escalate from here, as an army of larger wolf-gorilla creatures with glowing teeth descend on the block. And Sam needs to team up with her tormenters and a local stoner (Treadaway) to fight them off.

The film's freewheeling chaos captures the lively energy of life on a grim British estate, with these over-excited teens blithely lying to their oblivious parents as they head out to hunt some aliens, innit! The cast brings a terrific realism to these young guys, whose bravado is linked to their group dynamic, so when it's shaken by these invaders, small cracks start to reveal the young boys underneath as well as a bit of surprising heroism.

Writer-director Cornish keeps the screen busy, with a variety of colourful characters and aliens that are refreshingly real on-screen (as opposed to digital creations). All of this generates some genuine suspense along with the earthy humour that pervades each scene. We may not be able to decipher the inner-city slang, but we certainly understand the adventure these guys are having. On the other hand, most of the intensity is due to sudden jolts, and the comedy is more amusing than laugh-out-loud hilarious.

So it helps that the script has several very witty touches, such as Moses' conviction that all of this is some sort of government conspiracy aimed at the black subculture and the way everyone is forced to use normal household objects to fight off the invaders. But in the end, it's a bit too grisly and messy to really engage us, and aside from Moses we never get to know the characters well enough to really identify with them.

cert 15 themes, language, grisly violence 18.Apr.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall