Saturday, November 26, 2011

Attack The Block ★ ★★ ★ ½

Looking for heroes in all the wrong places
Releasing in Cinemas across Australia December 1

Before watching Attack the Block, the British Sci-Fi film from first time director and writer Joe Cornish, I would have taken a different route should aliens ever invade Earth. 

You see I was led to believe that the best folks to defend us against alien attack were the U.S. Special Forces.  In Battle: Los Angeles, they threw everything at them, except nuclear weaponry.     Then in Independence Day we not only had the US Air Force but also Will Smith.  And, of course, if there is a clone still around of Ellen Ripley from Aliens, well, she would be a pretty good asset.

After watching this, the best Sci-Fi romp this year, I would say we can do better on a lesser budget.  Just get yourself a gang of teenagers from a London council estate tower block, arm them with decorative swords, baseball bats, water pistols, a few impressive firecrackers, and a severe bad attitude and you can pretty much guarantee mankind’s victory.
Attack The Block opens with an alien’s meteor-like landing into a nearby car, as said gang mugs trainee nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker).  The unwitting gang attack the smallish alien, easily killing it.  They then march it through the streets to a local drug dealer’s den, managed by Ron (Nick Frost), for overnight storage. 
When more aliens arrive, landing near the block, the gang decides they are going to have fun hunting and killing some aliens.  But, these new arrivals are not as small and the boys realise quickly they are ill-prepared to battle them.  In between, they accidentally incite the vicious drug dealer into pursuing them, along with the police for their earlier mugging foray.  What has started as a “gang’s night out” soon becomes a fight for survival.
What is interesting is the evolution of the idea for Attack The Block, an idea which came to Cornish after a mugging very similar to the one in the movie.  'A gang of quite young kids nicked my wallet and phone through sheer force of numbers,' Cornish recalls, citing an incident that took place in 2001. “I’m a typical coward and I gave them everything.”
But this experience got Cornish’s thoughts racing.  'I was struck by how young they were, and I thought to myself, I probably see you in the park every day.  We’re probably on the same level of “Call Of Duty!"
A few months later he saw M. Night Shyamalan’s sci-fi horror film Signs.  Signs reminded me of a script that John Sayles wrote called Night Skies, which became ET and Gremlins,' says Cornish. 'I’ve always loved the idea of a siege, and humans on earth under siege by aliens, and it struck me: what would happen if that happened in my neighbourhood where I grew up, in South London? Then I thought, what would happen if something like that went down during my mugging? Those kids, who some people are frightened of, would suddenly become quite important – suddenly all their strengths would be usable for a good reason. It went from there, really.'
Attack The Block is a polished Sci-Fi thriller supplying exactly what it promises; something different and something wildly fun. It works on every level – script, acting and special effects, even the language.  What is so impressive about Cornish’s film is that he delivers the gang’s unappealing council block lifestyle and attitude unsympathetically. Then he cleverly allows us to change sides and feel good that we did.
 Just like the aliens, we never stand a chance against the “charm” of these thugs.