Review: ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Review: ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011)


Invasion movie about a small group of people battling against otherworldly creatures is nothing new. Writer-director Joe Cornish's feature debut ATTACK THE BLOCK is one of those typical genre movies. But let me tell you this -- it's a bloody good genre movie. Not great, but satisfying just enough.

The story, in the meantime, is straightforward. Set on a rough neighborhood of a South London housing estate, the movie follows a street gang, Moses (John Boyega), Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones) and Biggz (Simon Howard) who mugs a nurse named Sam (Jodie Whittaker) one night when a strange object falls from a sky and crashing through the roof of a nearby car. They are curious about the object and decides to investigate, only to discover that there's an otherworldly creature which shaped like a gorilla in jet-black fur and armed with fluorescent blue, sharp teeth. However, Moses manages to kill the creature but what follows next, is that there are more creatures are arriving from the sky via falling objects. With no outside help, the street gang have to rely on themselves to save their neighborhood, which is in particular, the block to retaliate against the creatures with various kind of weapons they can get from -- baseball bats, fireworks, and even a samurai sword.

Combining the '80s monster movies of CRITTERS (1986) and gangster movies of THE WARRIORS (1979) and STREETS OF FIRE (1984), ATTACK THE BLOCK is a consistently entertaining genre mash-ups which is particularly blessed with Cornish's witty screenplay. In fact, it is his screenplay that stands the most from the like-minded genre we often seen all the while. Filled with profanity-filled but smart dialogues, Cornish knows the street lingo very well especially after spending a year researching South London youth culture before writing the screenplay. And it shows, with all the kids (especially the destined-to-be-a-bigger-star turn by John Boyega as the no-nonsense Moses) give their frighteningly believable performances as cruel street thugs who swears a lot. The movie is also frequently hilarious, with spontaneous sense of humor that mostly reflected on the criticism of rebellious youth culture, racism (black, that is), and such.

As a director, Cornish doesn't waste a lot of time with exposition but smart enough to keep the pace fast. That gives a sense of urgency that will keep the fans glued to their seats. Except it's a shame that he and cinematographer Thomas Townend prefer to shoot the action sequences with a lot of tight close-ups and shaky cameraworks. They are shot in such frantic manner that at times, I have difficulty trying to keep track, let alone enjoying the moment of the intensity showing on the screen. Still there's one particularly memorable action set-piece worth mentioning for: the exciting slow-motion finale where Moses makes his exit to outrun a bunch of otherworldly creatures waiting in the corridor. Other technical credits are top-notch, especially for Steven Price's catchy '80s-like techno music score which often keeps the movie in a consistently kinetic rhythm.

Not bad for a first-time feature filmmaker whose prior experience consisting only in TV comedy. I was pleasantly surprised and the name of Joe Cornish is definitely one of the bright filmmakers to look out for in the future.

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