Movie Review: “Attack the Block”

Written by Brent Holmes September 13, 2011

If you were to believe everything advertisements and trailers said about a film then Attack the Block would be a comedy about a bunch of clueless teens who try to defend their apartment complex from an alien invasion in the Shaun of the Dead style. You also are probably suffering from severe depression over the fact that using Old Spice did not make you smell as attractive as Isaiah Mustafa.

Attack the Block is an alien invasion movie, but it really isn’t a comedy. If a person can get over the cast’s impossibly thick accents, then the film has its moments where it can pull off a slight chuckle. Other than that the film is no where near the comedic genius of Shaun of the Dead or Scott Pilgrim vs The World.


Despite its shortcomings as a comedy, Attack the Block is still a very solid film. The acting is decent, the character arcs are well played and althoughpredictable, not entirely cliques. Where it is strongest however is in its portrayal of disillusioned London youth. The film opens with Moses (John Boyega) and his gang mugging a nurse named Sam (Jodie Whittaker). The mugging is interrupted by the arrival of an alien lifeform, which Moses and the group take to a drug dealer named Ron (Nick Frost) to see about making any money with the discovery.

Part of what made this film effective is the presentation of this group of teens. At the start of the film, they are in no way likable. Conventionally, a film like this might have killed off the muggers and switched to a new group of characters after the prologue. This is not that kind of film, this is not a film about slackers or nerds as it is about disenfranchised youth looking for approval.


What really makes this film interesting is the context it will be received in given the recent London riots. Could this film be considered a look into the worlds of the downtrodden rioters? What does Attack the Block say about this generation of the United Kingdom? Granted the film doesn’t do much with these questions; they are raised and only acknowledged in the same way an American film might try to oversimplify complex social issues.

Regardless, Attack the Block still produces interesting characters that are well acted and go through smooth and interesting journeys. There is a feeling that this gang of kids are real people trying to deal with an oppressive police force, a poor economy, figuring out how to live their lives, and surviving an alien invasion. Rework it a bit and it could be A Clockwork Orange with extraterrestrials.

My Rating: 7/10

 

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About Brent Holmes

Brent Holmes is a Film Studies and English Major attending Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario where he is working towards a PhD in Film Studies. He currently writes for We Eat Films and The Western Gazette (on the latter, he serves as Arts & Life editor).

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