Stars:John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker and Alex Esmail
A teen gang in South London defend their block from an alien invasion.
Well, this is a hard damn film to review, I have to say. Its left me very torn as to how I feel about it. As a Horror/Thriller with comic overtones, it works very well, and has some very fun, and occasionally tense moments. It has a playful tone that keeps the whole affair bright and breezy and, as I'll explain later, it has some really cool looking creatures to keep us Horror fans happy in our twisted little worlds. Not much to complain about, right? Not so. The film has one major, almost fatal flaw that will turn off a sizable portion of its intended audience. And its a flaw that will only affect some of you fine people....
ATTACK THE BLOCK is a film that will live or die depending on your outlook, experiences and social situation. This is a film about teens defending their block of flats from a bunch of pissed off aliens. Its also British, and in Britain, teen gangs are nothing to take lightly. Here, in Scotland, we call the little knife wielding bastards, 'Neds', in England they call them 'Chavs', but it amounts to the same thing. A bunch of unemployed, drug fuelled little pricks who carry blades, hate the world and everything in it, and spend all their time making life miserable for all us civilised, intelligent folk. In short, we fucking HATE these kids. And to make our heroes for the duration of the story a bunch of Neds, is a very bold, and it could be argued, very stupid move.
In Britain, this film will automatically repel a huge number of viewers simply because we all have to deal with these vicious little thugs each and every day. We all know someone who's been attacked, stabbed or murdered by these vermin, and we ain't in too much of a hurry to support them in a movie, fantasy or not. It's a very real social problem over here, and we don't see the funny side of it at all. As the film begins, we see the tooled-up little fuckers rob and terrorize a lady at knife-point, and soon afterwards, kill a small infant-alien for no goddamn good reason, and we're supposed to root for these people? Not gonna happen. The cast tries hard to make them likable, but most people on these shores will hate the protagonists from the get-go, and wont care if they live or die. In fact, many, (like myself) will be hoping to see them get deservedly chomped by the avenging aliens who come to clean their clocks. I was firmly on the side of the beasts in this one, and while from that standpoint I did enjoy the film to a degree, the whole affair left a very bitter taste in my mouth.
The young cast of characters do their best, but with no redeeming qualities written into the script, and little to no explanation for their shitty behaviour besides some insights into one character, our lead 'Moses', (Moses!? Gimme a fucking break), you'll be counting the seconds till they snuff it horribly. Its made all the worse by the directors attempts at explaining the 'Moses' characters motivations for turning to robbery, and having him take on the heroic mantle as the film progresses. Its bullshit, frankly. You know your meant to be supporting this misunderstood youth, but all the time your thinking, 'this is the same arsehole who's spent his evening scaring a woman half to death with a knife, and then killing a baby alien. You'll very likely want him dead, and so you should, friendo's, so you should.
Its a shame the film went down this route, as there is much to enjoy here outwith the 'hero's'. The Aliens themselves, as I mentioned earlier, look very cool, and actually manage to inject some originality into the whole 'seige' set-up. These mean spirited space bad-asses are jet black, and I mean jet black. You cant see anything of them besides there huge, blue glowing fangs, as they go in for the kill. They look like goddamn shadows with teeth, and I loved them. I'm sure theres some political/racial subtext in here about how these cosmic hell-hounds are blacker than the black kids on the estate, but I don't care, frankly. I'm here to see aliens eat lowlife scum, and that's all, man.
As cool and dangerous as the beasties are, we get very little in the way of gore or violence, and a disappointingly large number of the cast survive to tell the tale. Having any of them live through the film would have pissed me off, but having more than half of them pull through is just plain shitty. Next time you come to our planet looking to murder our gangs, my alien friends, put a little more effort into it. We got your back!
Its good to see Nick Frost in here. He's always a fun guy to watch, especially when paired with his chum, Simon Pegg. Here, he's just as good as ever, although he has a surprisingly small role in the movie. I thought he'd be the main star, which would have been far more effective, but he has little more than an extended cameo. Still, he's the best thing here, and his stoner character was, for me, the only likable person in the whole movie, other than the space-mofo's, of course. The rest of the non gang-related characters are annoying and bland. They ain't hateful, but they sure as hell ain't likable either.
Yep, your enjoyment of ATTACK THE BLOCK will be directly relatable to your habitat, and your experiences. British people will take offence at the protagonists, and the rest of the world will probably find the whole things very entertaining. Its a slightly above average film with some great creature concepts, some solid acting and a few well placed laughs, (not too many though, this is less 'comedy', more 'horror'). Its got a talented cast who really try hard, and a freewheeling spirit to it that makes the whole thing a breeze, and it would be an easily recommendable film were it not for the choice of heroes. Have a look at it, especially if your foreign to these shores, and try and look past the glamorising of gang culture that the film unwisely projects, and you may just find yourself having a good time. Now for gods sake, get the sequel out already. I wanna see the survivors getting slaughtered, asap....
7 Glue-Sniffers out of 10