Early Review: “Attack the Block” mixes comedy, action and sci-fi seamlessly

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Early Review: “Attack the Block” mixes comedy, action and sci-fi seamlessly

By Wesley Emblidge

“That’s an alien bruv, believe it!” shouts Pest (Alex Esmail), one of the five kids from a gang in South London. The rest of the kids laugh him off, and turn back to the destroyed car next to them. Some animal has fallen from the sky, and landed inside the car. The kids chase the thing into a small shack, where they shoot at it with fireworks and then beat the thing to death, not fully realizing that what they’ve just found is, in fact, an alien.

These are only the early minutes of “Attack the Block,” the directorial debut of Joe Cornish, the co-writer of films such as “Shaun of the Dead” “Hot Fuzz” and the upcoming “The Adventures of Tintin” and “Ant-Man.” The film does something similar to his previous works, making a solid entry into the alien invasions and filling it with humor to the point of near parody. While films like “Shaun of the Dead” were straight-up parodies, “Attack the Block” is far removed from parody.

Instead, the film seems to ask the question, “If aliens did invade, but scientists didn’t find them, how would average people react?” Or, even better, how would South London hoodlums try to deal with them? As one of the kids, Dennis shouts as more aliens start landing, “I’m killing ‘em, I’m killing ‘em straight!”

The kids run back to their apartments to grab every kind of weapon, from squirt guns to samurai swords. However, they begin to lose their courage and stupidity as the film progresses and the aliens get bigger.

What’s nice about the film, besides it being hilarious, unique, and full of great performances, is how contained it is. Almost the entire story takes place inside one large apartment complex, and whatever takes place outside of it stays within the city block (hence the title). But there is never a moment where you want to leave this small location, or feel like this was a really low budget independent film.

Many film reviewers try to focus on character development, and scorn any film without it. However, the fact that these characters don’t really learn a lesson, don’t change, don’t put their “deadbeat” ways behind them, actually ends up benefitting the film. These are not the kind of people who would learn from this; they’re just kids, and not good kids.

However they’re the bad guys you cheer on because they’re dealing with aliens and drug lords. Through all their stupidity and all their mistakes, you learn to love them, from the always serious Moses (John Boyega) to the consistently clueless Brewis (Luke Treadaway).

Now this movie won’t be released until July 29, so this is an early review. I may have seen an unfinished cut, but I sure hope it isn’t. The film is near perfect, full of great little touches and bits of comedy and action that are sure to make it a cult classic. I know that I’ll be seeing it when it gets a real release, and I bet the rest of the people the pre-release screening I attended will as well.

5/5 Stars