Low-budget sci-fi movies. Those words usually mean its 2 a.m. and nothing is on T.V. or the local cash-only drive-in is running a promo to try to stay in business. That is why I love this era of filmmaking. If your movie is good, people will see it. That’s what I’m doing here, just paying it forward. If you haven’t seen ‘Attack the Block’, then you’re welcome.
‘Attack the Block’ – A young British gang must defend their block from an alien invasion.
Just to clarify, I am not British, nor am I in a teenage gang. So, I have to take writer/director Joe Cornish’s word for it, to believe that the dialogue used in the film is authentic, but it seems legit.
Lets start with the kick-ass: the acting, the cinematography, the lighting, the story and the score.
The acting is great. Attack the Block is filled with lots of up-and-coming talent and to top it off is Nick Frost. Nick displays a side we don’t see too often. He is a longhaired comedic drug dealer. Of the young actors, John Boyega stands out as Moses, the young thug struggling to earn respect among the block.
The film is beautifully shot and lit. It’s a dark film, with beautiful hyper saturated colors. You would swear the movie was lit by the neon lights of a street you shouldn’t walk alone at night.
The score is a perfect mix of creepy tension and Daft Punk. If Michael Myers were murdering programs inside ‘Tron’, you’d probably have something very similar to main theme.
Aside from just being a badass action movie there are 3 things that make this movie stand out.
- The film has meaning. It is practically an essay dissecting the never-ending struggle to fit-in and prove social worth. The two youngest boys in the film try relentlessly to be a part of Moses’ gang. Meanwhile Moses, who is busy proving his bravery to his own team, is trying to earn the respect of Hi-Hatz, the self-proclaimed leader of the “block”. Another underlying theme is the grey area of heroes vs. antiheroes. Moses and his gang are thugs that rob innocent people and wreak havoc throughout the block, even if it is just false bravado. As a viewer, you find yourself conflicted, cheering for the gang of thugs, as they may be the lesser of the two evils.
- The ‘Alien’ technique. A wise man once told me that the movie ‘Alien’ is a horror movie. The movie ‘Aliens’ is a sci-fi movie. Why? Because Aliens was a balls-to-the-wall action movie that focused on Bill Paxton and company trying kill a lot of aliens. The movie ‘Alien’ was a brilliant suspense movie that just happened to contain an alien. While the alien was a focal point of the movie, it was the tension and the anticipation of the alien on the dark ship that made you uneasy. ‘Attack the Block’ is different, but similar. You only see the glowing teeth and a dark silhouette-like fur of the aliens. This is a great way to hide your weaknesses. They probably did not have the budget to create a big Hollywood style alien. This also helps to avoid a lot of the haters, who don’t ever buy into the realistic aliens in movies.
- Science. 95% of alien movies consist of hostile aliens that land on earth looking for more resources. They are very powerful, but some how the humans find the one weakness that destroys them all or sends them packing. Not this time. ‘ATB’ has a decently smart and different idea about how and why the aliens come. It kind of makes you think there is more to this movie than swearing, violence and drugs. You can’t argue with science.
Overall ‘ATB’ is a very fun movie that slightly expands the paradigm of Sci-Fi as we know it. It is easily the best British teen urban alien invasion movie of 2011. Give it a peek.