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Out of the Box: 'Block' beats the blockbusters

July 28, 2011

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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What do you do when aliens from another world invade your neighbourhood? You send them packing…without that phone call home.

That's what a South London youth gang does in Joe Cornish's independent sci-fi thriller 'Attack the Block', a film which puts many of this summer's big blockbusters to shame.

When we first meet the group - led by charismatic leader - Moses (John Boyega) - we are none too pleased to make their acquaintance. Threatening and mugging Sam (Jodie Whittaker), a medical student, the boys appear to be nothing more than thugs who enjoy frightening and intimidating others.

The beauty of Cornish's writing is as the story develops and we learn more about the kids, we understand that underneath all that bravado are a group of scared children who don't have very much hope for the future unless they can escape the inner-city neighbourhood they live in.

Attack the Block Slowly but surely, little by little, we begin to forgive and even root for them in their battle against the maurauding aliens.

Oh, yeah. The aliens. The feline-like creatures have neon blood, claws that slash through solid metal and are unstoppable hunters that would give the Predator species a run for their money if they ever met out there in the cosmos, somewhere. The beasts are fast, lethal, vicious and pretty freakin' awesome. When a young alien crash-lands right in the middle of Sam's mugging, the boys chase the creature, corner it in a shed and kill it…before it kills them, kinda.

Hoping to make a few bucks off the find, the boys bring the extraterrestrial corpse to local slacker, pot dealer and National Geographic enthusiast Ron (Nick Frost of 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Hot Fuzz' and 'Paul'.) to pick his brain. What they don't know is they have unintentionally drawn first blood in a war against the aliens. Soon, their neighborhood is the target of a full-scale invasion and nobody, and I mean NOBODY is safe.

Attack the Block It is Block's kids who steal the show though not the aliens. It is their story. From the dignified Moses who, if you can snip through his barbed wire exterior, you will find the kind but wounded heart within, to the side-splitting Pest (Alex Esmail) whose tongue is as sharp as his blade, to Jerome (Leeon Jones), the thoughtful poet of the group, we cannot help but to cheer these kids on once we come to understand their characters. The inexperienced but talented young cast carry the film's weight on their shoulders. Kudos to Cornish for recognizing their talent and putting his faith in the young stars. There is no doubt this will not be the last time we see them on the big screen as they all have bright sparks and futures ahead of them, especially Boyega and Esmail.

Attack the Block Called upon to touch up Steven Spielberg's upcoming 'The Adventures of Tin Tin' and pen the 'Ant-Man' movie, Cornish does make the kids and not the aliens the stars of 'Attack the Block' but that is not to say the focus isn't on the action. The film is full of chases and fights outside and better yet, inside the apartment buildings. The threats posed to the characters are real and even though there is much popgun violence and comedy in the film, Cornish doesn't shy away from the viciousness of the invasion. All the youthful posturing and humour aside, these characters are in real danger and we are painfully reminded of that fact time and time again. Cornish doesn't pull any punches and nor should he have.

In a summer full of hum-drum films that didn't live up to their hype, 'Attack of the Block' is the little indie film that could and does deliver.

 

Attack the Block Attack the Block
Director: Joe Cornish
Writer: Joe Cornish
Starring: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail and Nick Frost.
Producers: Jenny Borgars, Will Clarke, Matthew Justice, Lucy Pardee, Nira Park, Tessa Ross, James Wilson, Edgar Wright.
Distributor: Sony Pictures.
Official Site: http://attacktheblock.com/
Rating: 7.5 / 10

 
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