Best Movies of All Time + Simon Howard



"This is too much madness to fit into one text!"
-- Jerome

Attack the Block is a 2011 action thriller directed by Joe Cornish that centers around an apparent alien invasion in a South London project. When a gang of teenage hoodlums led by a boy named Moses (John Boyega) attempt to mug a young woman named Sam (Jodie Whittaker) walking home from work, they're interrupted when something crashes into a nearby car. Upon investigation, Moses finds a creature inside, and the boys proceed to kill it. Happy with their victory, the boys take it back to their apartment complex - affectionately referred to as the "Block" - and leave it in Ron's (Nick Frost) weed room. After a little while, however, larger creatures start to appear all over the area, and their ferocious violence puts the lives of anyone in their path in extreme amounts of danger. For some reason, they appear to be drawn toward Moses and his gang, who attempt to fight the creatures before they can pick them off one by one.

I first heard about this film a few months ago when one of my readers from the U.K. posted his own review of the film on my Facebook page. When I watched the trailer for the film, I was immediately drawn by the fact that Frost was making an appearance, even if it didn't seem like it would be too large of a role. Aside from that, however, we're basically getting a cast of no-name individuals (at least, names I don't recognize from here in the States). That being said, I watched the trailer a few more times and thought that we might be in for a fresh take on the alien invasion story. It's always interesting to see out-of-the-way demographics take on aliens, and pitting them against hardened teenagers in a downtrodden section of London seemed to be a clever fit. And so I waited anxiously for the film to receive a U.S. release date, which it finally did in limited fashion.

I think that the film is very well-written considering the type of movie we're being given. You can't really expect anything over-the-top brilliant about an alien invasion movie, but we're given a solid screenplay for Attack the Block. The success lies in the believability of the characters, and that derives from the attention to detail when it comes to dialogue. As with any adolescent film, the teenage characters are going to have a dialect of their own, one that is drastically different from the adults around them. And that's the case with this film, with dialogue that ranges from the hilarious to the utterly confusing, but it crafts the characters so well that it's entirely forgivable. On top of that, we're given a number of twists and turns that bring out the best - and the worst, in some cases - in each of the characters. In a way, you can almost call this movie character-driven. Sure, there's enough plot points to keep the story moving along, but a lot of the drama of the film stems from character realizations and the like.

Fortunately, this no-name cast delivers on nearly every cylinder, crafting a rather fantastic ensemble. I can't begin to say enough about the aforementioned Boyega. He takes a character that you start the film hating and turns him into a semi-reluctant hero by film's end. He's the main reason I slightly view the film as character-driven, even though some of the other characters do have smaller arcs throughout the story. The rest of his gang - which includes Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones) and Biggz (Simon Howard) - provide ample amounts of comedy during their time on-screen. Whittaker does well as our main female lead, even if she's a little overshadowed by the teenagers running and racing around her. Frost is good for a few lines, but he has a smaller role than I had originally expected (to be fair, the movie only runs for eighty-eight minutes, so it's not like there's enough time to delve into any supporting character's story for too long). Still, the cast fills out quite nicely, bringing a very believable and comedic ensemble to the screen.

Overall, I found Attack the Block to be a fun-filled action thriller chalk full of laughs and a couple of jump-out-of-your-seat moments. The aliens themselves are unlike anything you've ever seen before, but I'm a little bit on the fence as to whether I like them. Still, they're an incredibly effective foe throughout the film, and their presence is always known and always felt. Give credit to the film's writers as well for crafting a story with great dialogue and sufficient twists and turns. If you're in the mood for a semi-violent flick that's quality entertainment, then find your nearest theater playing Attack the Block. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B+
1.5 Thumbs Up

2011, action, Alex Esmail, Attack the Block, Franz Drameh, horror, Jodie Whittaker, Joe Cornish, John Boyega, Leeon Jones, movie review, Nick Frost, scifi, and more:

Relevant to: ATTACK THE BLOCK + Simon Howard