Dec 19, 2011

[Movies] Attack the Block (2011)

It's rare that a movie truly surprises you anymore - Hollywood is stuck in a mire of remakes and rehashing of old ideas. But when they do surprise you, then the movie stands a decent enough chance of being good, especially in today's market. But you'll rarely see that kind of creativity and ingenuity from the established studios these days.

So from across the seas we have Attack the Block, which is a movie with British origins. The movie generated a lot of positive buzz in the geek section of the blogosphere and the general web given how impressive it was despite talks of it running on a rather limited budget. For a movie that seemingly came out of nowhere, the end result was certainly impressive, even for me.

Movies like this, while not perfect, are still vital to the future of the movie-making industry. More than financiers and the kind of logical support that studios provide, what we really need are creatives to write the stories, direct the movies and put all the pieces together to come up with great stories like this one. And that's what this movie really has going for it - a great idea brought to life by a director who knows what he wants and how to achieve it.

Attack the Block is a British science fiction themed action movie written and directed by first time director Joe Cornish. The movie was produced by Big Talk Productions (who were also behind the likes of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) together with Film4, The UK Film Council and StudioCanal.

Image by Getty Images via @daylife
The movie begins with nurse Sam (Jodie Whitaker) encountering Moses (John Boyega) and his gang as they accost her for her money and other valuables. But as this is going on, a strange object falls from the sky and punches a hole straight through a nearby car. Moses tries to use this moment to his advantage by trying to check the car for valuables when he's attacked by a strange alien creature, which had apparently been in the object that had fallen. Sam manages to get away with the added distraction and thus Moses and his crew pursue the creature and eventually kill it.

After stashing the corpse in the "weed room" of the drug dealer Ron (Nick Frost), they find that even more objects start falling from the sky. Empowered by their recent kill, the crew decide to arm themselves and pursue the new visitors only to find out that the new creatures are far larger than the first one they had dealt with. Now they're fairly massive beasts with glowing teeth, huge claws and a deep black fur covering their bodies. So now Moses and his posse need to deal with these much stronger aliens that seem to be appearing all over the city.

At first the gang was annoying me to heck. I mean seriously, in terms of fulfilling the roles of a bunch of punk ass kids trying to be all tough and thug-like, they did a good enough job to make me not like the very much. And for them to become the eventual protagonists of the story and not the happy little nurse character does make for a bit of a shift for any audience member.

But don't worry, the aliens totally make up for it. They're wonderfully visual with their luminescent teeth set against their pitch black bodies - seriously awesome look. And what's funny is that for the most part it's obvious that they're guys in what are practically gorilla suits - but the contrast of the green glow versus the rest of their bodies is just awesome. Throw in some classic horror movie blood and gore effects and you're pretty much set.

English: Joe Cornish in the BBC 6music Studios.
Image via Wikipedia
What makes the movie work is how it combines elements from your classic alien invasion kind of movie with the sensibilities of a zombie apocalypse or survival horror flick. I'm really impressed with how Cornish managed to create that kind of a mood for the movie without having it dip too far into being overly scary or brooding. Thus it maintains a weird humorous undercurrent to things without going too far into the realm of slapstick or something.

The whole movie is visually impressive - you'd never think that it was produced with a budget of approximately $13 million. The shots were generally well done, the action nicely intense and the aliens fairly scary all throughout. It doesn't pretend to be a more complicated story than it is - so you just get good entertainment as the crew try to kill the aliens before they get killed in turn.

Attack the Block is a great example the kind of fresh new ides that we need to keep movies interesting. Thus it gets a respectable 4 happily bloody death scenes out of a possible 5.

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