Monday, 12 March 2012

Attack the Block Review

It's a Studio Canal production about an alien invasion in London and features Nick Frost.  When I heard about that, I figured I had to see it.  I normally love Studio Canal movies and Frost is one of my favourite actors.  I knew he didn't have a huge role and I'm pretty sure he was only brought on board to bring credibility to the film and that his friend, Edgar Wright was a producer.  Once you get past that, there's really no great depth to the film.  It's another run of the mill alien invasion movie.  Aliens invade and regular people fight them off.

But they do it in an entertaining way.  Like Shaun of the Dead (and most other alien/monster/apocalypse movies), it takes what should be a global phenomenon and focuses it to a localized environment and its inhabitants.  In this case, it is an impoverished apartment block in South London.  One thing I do like is that, instead of just having the film focus on the people as a nuisance to the aliens' bigger goal of domination (like, for example, Independence Day), the aliens are actually focusing on the block's residents as well.  I won't say why because it would spoil it.  But the humans aren't just getting in the way of the aliens like in most movies.  This one is an actual duel and that was a refreshing twist.

It wouldn't be a proper commentary on an alien invasion movie without talking about the effects.  It had a budget of only $13,000,000.  And the effects didn't suffer one bit.  They couldn't focus on gore and alien effects too much but what they did do in the gore department, they did well and realistically.  The alien effects were terrific in their simplicity.  With the exception of the first one, the aliens are nothing more than ape-like mammals with teeth that glow (while they're alive).  The fur did look a bit polyester but I really liked this for two reasons.  First, very rarely, if ever, do you see aliens in the movies that are mammals.  Why can't other primal and aggressive worldy races develop hair too?  Second, in their simplicity, they are terrifying.    They are basically pitch black running carpets with teeth.  There's no over the top tentacles or huge bug eyes.  The whole movie takes place at night and seeing them approach the humans in the background and almost all you can see is the teeth was actually quite chilling.  They took the small budget and really used it to their advantage.

Finally, the acting.  There is nothing special here.  But it's an alien invasion movie so I would have been surprised if there was.  John Boyega is actually annoying in some places.  He just couldn't be convincing as the gang leader.  But the rest of the cast provided a good balance of bravery, fear and comedic dialogue and antics that it's a net positive even if sometimes it seemed that I was laughing at cultural differences in vocabulary more than actual intended jokes.  Michael Ajao and Sammy Williams also deserve a mention as the two younger kids who want to be thugs.  They brought a decent element of comedy to the whole film.  And, if you follow this web log, you will know that I really don't like kids in heroic roles.  But they did it well.

See it.  It doesn't have enough Nick Frost.  But it does have enough entertainment value to make it fun.

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