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Inner City Versus Outer Space

Riffs on the idea of an alien invasion have been redone countless times. Marauding creatures from beyond the stars have been defeated by everything from cowboys to Santa Claus in the past. But Aliens versus South London Hoodies? There’s a novel idea. What happens when you take a tedious British movie about urban decay and how tough it is to be a youth on the streets and drop alien monsters into the mix?

The result is Attack the Block. Director Joe Cornish1 has taken UK Film Council money and made a B-movie reminiscent of the sort of fun films Hollywood used to make in the 80’s, such as Critters, Gremlins and CHUD. It’s refreshing to see a British movie that’s fun for the sake of being fun, and a B-movie that isn’t trying to be anything else. That’s not say it’s not got subtext and clever social parody; of course it has, it’s been partially funded by Film4 so we expect that, it’s just that’s also has big monsters eating people.
The story is tight, the characters fun and interesting. Humour is injected throughout the movie, but so is a constant feeling of danger and terror. One flows naturally into the other, neither is particularly forced.

(c) Film4

I wonder what would have happened had the aliens landed in Glasgow...

I would say that the first five minutes of the movie are the least promising; it really does start out as yet another British movie about how crap Britain is, even though those opening scenes are done suberbly. Maybe it’s the strength of the opening scene or the raw talent of actor John Boyega’s performance, but I utterly fail to have any sympathy for the lead character, Moses. Whereas the rest of the hapless hoodies all seem to be kids way out of their depth, Boyega’s “Good kid in a bad place, doing the best he can” fails to elicit any empathy; I suspect I’m supposed to feel for him, but I don’t. Boyega is simply too convincing as a thug. In a way this is a good thing as it lends a heavy dose of pathos2 to movie.

If you have a spare couple of hours and like monster movies of this ilk, you could do a lot worse than check this out. I hope to see more from Joe Cornish in years to come. It would be awesome if the UK could continue to produce this sort of scary fun.


1: Jo from Channel Four comedy programme Adam and Joe. Sad to say, no toy pastiche action in this movie. I’m sure someone will do one.
2: Pathos is like salt; you may not notice it’s missing when you first tuck into your meal, but once it’s added, it can improve things immensely.

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Categories: Geek, Movies, Reviews Tags: ,
  1. October 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Did you not think the Spiderman quilt was a work of genius though?

    • October 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      It’s full of gorgeous touches, and I do hope to see more from the same production team (and cast).

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