Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Attack the Block

Lowdown: A London youth gang protects its block from invading aliens.
Attack the Block is a sci-fi horror comedy meant to be watched with a smile on one’s face. It is an obviously low budget production utilizing cheap special effects, avoiding complicated shots, and lacking in famous stars to credit (with the exception of Nick Frost on a minor role). It is a very British film, with its entire plot taking place at the area around a commission housing style monolith apartment block at South London (hence the name). Doesn’t sound like much? True. Worth watching in spite of that? Very true. Think Shaun of the Dead.
We start off on New Year’s eve. A lone woman is walking back home through London streets lit mainly by fireworks when she’s confronted by a gang of teenage goons that mug her at knife point. That gang is led by Moses, who shortly after finds a car that’s been totally smashed. He looks inside and finds a weird creature – an alien. After a brief struggle he shows the alien who’s boss; the now dead alien is his trophy. Then the big aliens start landing, and they’re not happy with what happened to their little mate…
Naming the center character Moses is no coincidence. The rest of Attack the Block revolves around the unlikely redemption of Moses, the unlikely hero. The guy who grew up in commission housing surrounded by drug dealers could just be the one who saves the earth. Or at least the block.
Look, Attack the Block is a very simple film. Given its English setting and the background of its key characters, it is often hard to keep up with the English (?) spoken here. However, it is also amazing to see how much can be derived out of so little: Attack the Block is original, damn it, in a manner the bulk of Hollywood's films cannot even dream of approaching. It shows just how far a film can go when it has decent depth about it even if it doesn't have the greatest special effects ever.
Attack the Block is not only a tame horror film with lots of comedy about it, it is a file story that packs a very clever biblical allegory. Given last year's riots at London, that allegory is bombastically relevant; it is aided by the image of the authorities, hidden throughout the crisis and showing up only after the real people unite to sort things out for themselves.
Best scene: Attack the Block is making the most of its setting and its characters of teen juveniles mixed with drug dealers that use their own products way too often in order to create fine comedy. My favorite joke is the one that touches a personal nerve: the one where the hero, tired and scared of fighting nasty aliens, declares his preference for enclosing himself in his room and playing FIFA.
Overall: Attack the Block is worth watching much more than its 3 out of 5 stars rating would indicate.

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