Monday, August 22, 2016

Sci Fi Top 100, #91: "Attack the Block" (2011)

Movie Stats:
Released 2011 (USA)
British & French, in English
Director - Joe Cornish
Stars - John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, and many others

Plot Summary:
An alien invasion lands near a council estate in South London, smack into the path of a group of teenaged hoodlums. Violence ensues. Boyega stars as Moses, the leader of the hoodlums, and Whittaker as Sam, the boys’ neighbor.

Unrelenting blue language; major violence; major gore; drug use.

Bad Stuff:
The long shots of the aliens, especially when they move, looked bad enough to make me cringe in embarrassment.

It doesn’t have much substance. It does try to shoehorn in a message about the boys seeing the error of their way, but it comes across feeling a bit after school special, and I didn’t find it particularly believable.

The scene where Brewis (Luke Treadway) postulates a theory on how/why the aliens ended up on earth had a very strong tone of “this makes sense to the character because it makes sense to the writer.” Like, I don’t think a real person in that situation would make those leaps in logic.

Good Stuff:
The boys aren’t “good,” the neighborhood that the aliens land in is rough, and the aliens aren’t mentally/technologically superior to humans. That gives the film a much different landscape than the vast majority of alien invasion stories. How the boys view the aliens and react to them is not the way most people in these sorts of films would react. It’s a nice change of pace.

I really liked the cinematography.

It’s got a lot of humor, particularly whenever trust-funder-trying-to-be-hardcore Brewis is on-screen. The conversation between him and pot dealer Ron (Nick Frost) about how difficult Brewis’s life is, during which Brewis is completely unaware of how ridiculous he sounds, had me rolling.

The Verdict:
I saw this when it came out in the theater. I remember being extremely excited to do so, having heard a lot of good things about it, and then coming away feeling slightly disappointed. I think I hyped myself up too much. I felt a lot more warm fuzzies about it this time, although I just saw that it gets boatloads of hate on IMDB (apparently IMDB reviewers aren’t hip to the idea of having unlikeable protagonists; they’re more friendly over on Rotten Tomatoes). Personally, I like that the heroes aren’t “good.” Life has nuance. Sometimes bad people do good things and good people do bad things. I thought the movie did well at humanizing the boys despite their flaws - I empathized with them. So to me, this is a fresh take on an old trope. It’s fun, mindless, funny, and, coming in just under an hour and a half, blessedly short.

I give it 3.75 stars.


Patricia said...

I remember seeing it in the theater too. I believe it was the Laurelhurst. And I also remember it being rather slight and (blessedly) short. But I also remember laughing a lot. And thinking I would want to watch it with subtitles, which I've never done.

And because I have a blog wherein I write movie reviews, I could check my memories. Indeed. I said "highly recommended for people with the right frame of mind."

balyien said...

Watching it was subtitles was definitely helpful, since the characters use a lot of slang. After watching it a second time, I've found myself wanting to use its slang all the time, i.e. "These are the best donuts ever, trust."