John Boyega Jodie Whitaker Nick Frost
attack the block
Attack the Block is not your run-of-the-mill alien invasion movie; it highlights personalities and group identity, and comes up with a quasi-scientific explanation for the attack of the aliens, while still keeping the fear and tension dialed up. Even though it’s scary throughout, the really brutal scenes have a comedic element that buffers the repulsion. There is honor among the thieves, and by the end of the story, the viewer is rooting for them.
The film opens with a mugging when we know nothing about the young woman or the muggers. It’s a standard presentation of such events, with all the stereotypical buttons: a dark street, black punks, and white innocent woman. Through a series of hilarious snafus and mysterious alien attacks, we get well acquainted with the protagonists, and begin to see them as real people with personal stories that shed light on who they are. Moses (John Boyega), the unchallenged leader of the group is especially interesting in his astuteness, his studied approach to problem solving, and his use of authority. At first he seems like any swaggering brute on the street who is completely self-serving. Only later, do we learn about his background and see the sense of responsibility, loyalty, and honor, and the need for others to accept and like him underlying the bravado. There is a smart, informed member of the group who comes up with an explanation for the “invasion”, allowing them to devise a plan of defense. Included also are two adorable young boys who yearn to be a part of the older group, and are of course shunned, but perform their own heroics. This is just a sample of the many interesting, engaging characters who, despite their entertainment value, come across as regular people like the ones we meet every day.
This movie is not all seriousness by any means. There are laugh-out-loud moments, especially when the characters reason through their thoughts and decisions. The woman mugged ends up being thrown in with the thieves, and they remind each other of how each has helped the other and deserves some gratefulness.
Special effects, lighting, and editing contribute effectively to the mood of the film. We see just enough of the aliens to prompt our own imaginations to fill in the darkness, which adds to a sense of threat.
Bottom line: This is a warmly humorous, satisfyingly scary, culturally informed film for which the writer/director Joe Cornish deserves high praise. Astonishingly, this is his first feature film.
Grade: A By Donna R. Copeland