Attack The Block DVD Review

Inspiration? It’s a mug’s game.

At least that’s how things worked out for Joe Cornish; one half of the funniest radio double act known to the Big British Castle, director of hot new brit flick Attack The Block and victim to his very own London mugging.

That was nigh on a decade ago, when a group of hooded adolescents outnumbered Cornish in his home town of Stockwell and made off with his valuables in one of those enforced borrowing incidents common to our fair city.

But instead of playing the victim, Cornish found a way to make himself richer from this exchange; as it set the wheels of his comedy brain in motion for the script that became Attack The Block.

His film opens with a young woman walking home, alone, on fireworks night at the end of another long day. This is Sam, a trainee nurse, and resident at one of South London’s imposing tower blocks.

As she approaches her flat, a group of masked youths on bikes surround Sam and steal her wallet, mobile and wedding ring at knife point.

These are very obviously bad boys. And so tough too, picking on a woman walking home alone at night.

Before anything else can happen, the gang are distracted by an apparent stray firework that destroys the roof of a parked car nearby.

As Sam makes a speedy exit, the boys investigate the explosion to discover that was no firework but a meteorite before being attacked by an alien creature for their curiosity. Their pride piqued by this incursion into their territory, the gang chase the extra terrestrial and kill it.

The boys, lead by alpha adolescent Moses, drag the alien’s carcass back to their home tower block and try to work out what just happened.

But when more meteorites begin to fall on Stockwell, bringing with them bigger aliens in search of their mate, it looks as though these South London teenagers may have picked a fight with the wrong gang.

Apart from his own mugging experience, Attack The Block appears to be inspired by cult eighties films such as Gremlins and Tremors; where humans are under siege from alien invaders and directors have to get creative with their approach to creating the visual language for such stories.

As such, the special effects used are a bit of a throwback to non-cgi times; but Attack The Block is all the more effective for this.

I’d much rather see a grown man dressed up in some funky alien outfit running around a film set then watch a perfectly rendered, virtual imposter blue screen their way through an action scene.

Of course, at the grand old age of 30, I’m beginning to realise I may be something of a throwback too.

As you might expect of a script written by Joe Cornish, Attack The Block isn’t just an alien siege flick; it’s funny too.

Admittedly, a lot of the youth speak may or may not by accurate.

I’m in no real position to judge, if you get me blud.

But the comic relief is mostly provided by the film’s supporting cast, including the ever reliable Nick Frost, whom the gang encounter as they try to defend themselves from their alien aggressors.

This allows the cast of unknown young actors to take centre stage, as we follow them on their journey from hooded hoodlums to hometown heroes.

Most impressive is John Boyega as Moses, who acts as the emotional lightening rod for Attack The Block. It’s Moses’ journey that the audience invests themselves in, as Cornish weaves social commentary about the reasons behind gang culture that is endemic to many city tower blocks into his alien siege narrative.

The script itself is a little too convenient at times, as most films of this genre tend to be; with the why behind the aliens actions never really explored or explained.

Still, when a film is this much fun, it’s easy to forgive these oversights as you get swept up in the excitement of Attack The Block.

It’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable British film will be released this year than Joe Cornish’s debut feature.


Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2011