Attack the Block (2011) | DVD Blu-ray Instant Video
In the South End of London, 15-year-old Moses (John Boyega) and the four members of his gang are mugging a nurse (Jodie Whittaker) walking home from a late hospital shift. As the fireworks of Bonfire Night explode through the city, their attempted robbery is broken up by an alien crashing into and destroying a parked car. They turn their attention on the space creature, killing it and carrying around it the city as a symbol of their triumph. They stash the alien in the safest, most reinforce place they know – their drug dealing friend’s “weed room.” More aliens begin to descend upon South London so the group arms themselves and heads out to defend their block.
This film does to alien invasion movies what Shaun of the Dead did for zombie movies. It’s not a stretch to reference Shaun of the Dead. Both films were produced by Nira Park and have Nick Frost in supporting roles. Also, Shaun of the Dead’s director, Edgar Wright, served as an executive producer of Attack the Block. The comparisons go beyond the personnel. Like Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block is a lighthearted but accurate rendition of its genre. This film is a comedy and keeps its humor running throughout its 88 minutes, but it doesn’t sacrifice any qualities of an action-packed alien invasion film to its focus on the comicality.
Attack the Block is the debut film of writer/director Joe Cornish, who competently balances action, special effects, humor, and memorable characters. The aliens are fully realized and sinister looking. The film is mainly comprised of fights and chases. The camerawork and editing are fast paced and flawless. The thing that makes this film succeed, though, is the characters. Each of the five gang member are distinguishable and completely fleshed out. As the aliens attack, their true personalities begin to come through and their tough street images are put to the test. Every character in the movie is given this treatment, even the smaller roles. There are two kids who want to join the gang, Mayhem and Probs, who are just as memorable as the film’s leads.
The heroes of this movie are teenagers, these South London gang members. Their humor, cockiness, and energy drive the story. They can face anything. They’re tough, brazen delinquents, but they’re still young enough to be unassumingly innocent and unpredictably creative. They use a baseball bat, knife, samurai sword, gun, fireworks, and their bicycles to battle these deadly space beasts. In some way, that naiveté makes them the best opponents for the alien invaders and the only hope to save the block.