Saturday, 14 May 2011

Attack the Block - Review

Joe Cornish has built up an unprecedented cult following over the past few years as one half of British comedy duo, Adam and Joe which featured from Channel 4 to eventually finding its way to BBC Radio 6. Branching out on his own, and seemingly taking a leaf out of the book of his mate, Edgar Wright, he's finally unleashed his directorial début in the form of sci-fi comedy horror/social satire, Attack the Block.

As the poster and tagline suggests, Attack the Block tells the tale of a bunch of inner city hoods who pit themselves up against a strange set of ferocious aliens who seem hell bent on tearing them apart one by one. Very much in the mould of Edgar Wright's collaborations with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, it takes a fairly high (daft) concept and pokes tremendous fun at it.

Despite whether you think the language spouted by the 'child' cast is realistic of inner city life, or modern London slang is frankly a moot point, as it made for some of the best aspects of the film. Sharing with one of the character's views, I too in the event of an alien invasion would probably prefer to live in ignorance, locked in my bedroom playing FIFA on my PlayStation also.

One of the most revelatory performances of the younger cast was John Boyega as the leader of the group, Moses. A broody, troubled child who unlike similar counterparts never harboured ambitions of 'getting out of the block' or such nonsense, and acted as perfect more serious folly to the more slapstick chums scattered around him. His journey showed signs of a typical coming of age story, but whether he really learned anything from it is left up to the audience's imagination thankfully.

In fear of the film becoming a bizarre episode of Channel 4's Skins, the children were supported by some classy supporting performances from more seasoned British actors. Most notable was Jodie Wittaker as Sam, a nurse who actually gets mugged by the heroes at the beginning of the film - not to bow to cultural stereotypes of anything - and eventually finds herself involved in this brutal quest for survival.

Nick Frost was on fine form as local drug dealer, Ron in a film which felt more like a Pegg and Frost collaboration than their lukewarm sci-fi comedy, Paul released earlier this year ever did. It was also great to see Luke Treadaway turn up in the cast, a brilliant young British actor with great things ahead of him.

Joe Cornish's level of technical proficiency on Attack the Block was astounding for only his début. I absolutely fell in love with his use of colour in the film, with warm, vibrant, explosions and fireworks which brought such a decaying, foreboding inner city council estate to life. The ultra-violence on show was at the kind of levels Tarantino would often implore in his best films, and even sparked similarities to Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange in places. Also the sound mixing/editing really managed to stand out, with huge bassy tones, very much like Chemical Brothers' work on Joe Wright's Hanna I saw last week. Furthermore the synthy, harrowing, sounds of the aliens themselves just sounded like Predator on an acid trip. Complete coolness.

Was it perfect though? Being honest, I felt it could've been far funnier with a lot of the best lines already on show in the film's trailer. Also the pacing felt slightly off, taking about a third of the film to properly let myself fully enjoy the experience. Perhaps I'm just nit-picking and on a second viewing it might all make more sense.

Final Thoughts
Some slick performances and refreshing visuals make Joe Cornish's debut feature a fully enjoyable one. The social satire could have been well...more satirical, and the slapstick comedy could have been funnier for people living outside of the London area, nevertheless Attack The Block a fun story, littered with a large amount of surprisingly likeable characters and unlikely heroes which, contray to pre-viewing, you won't wish to get munched by the aliens within the first five minutes.


Attack The Block is in cinemas everywhere now.

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