September 18, 2012

WTF Movie of the Week: Attack the Block!

Intergalactic tooth-paste had some unforeseen drawbacks...
So, well, here we are... I'm going to come straight out and say it: I LIKED IT. I know it's not the most popular opinion (I'll explain why later), but I did. Usually I would now go on and give you an insightful overview of the development of the characters, the intellectual merits or the wonderful photography, BUT this movie has none of that. It doesn't seem to bother with all that jazz, or at the very least, it plays it down to the point it's easily ignored. And maybe that's for the best.

The story opens with a couple of hoodlums mugging a young nurse on her way home. These are not nice guys, the writers are telling us, and they're right. Now, if you think these hoodlums will, in the course of the movie, will experience some Joycean epiphany which will redeem them for the rest of their lives, it ain't going to happen.

Soon after the mugging they find a strange, hound-like creature, kill it, and take it with them to the block where they live. We soon learn that the group is into low-level dealing of marihuana and especially the leader, Moses (John Boyega), wants to work his way up in this sleazy world.
But pretty soon the block is under siege from strange, dark aliens with glowing teeth. All sounds pretty corny, eh?

What follows is an 80-minute slugfest in which the hoodlums try to defend their block of appartment buildings from the besieging aliens with mostly humourous results. We get to know a lot of the other tenants of this building and the associations they keep. Nick Frost and the rick kid hooked on pot, the screaming girls and the nurse they mugged earlier who somehow ended up in the same block. And although there is the obvious tension between them, they all have to work together to beat the aliens.

So, here goes. What most people would expect is that the hoodlums, faced with this horrible new enemy, will mend their wicked ways and lead productive lives from now on. But instead, they attack the aliens with the same arrogance and ferocity they do everything else. There is no message here and maybe that's just as well. It's just enjoyable fun with a slight throw-back to the 80's monster movies. The fact that the aliens are not visible except for horrific, glowing teeth, is a great move by the director. It is an hommage to movies from a time when monsters could not be made so realistic (Cat People, anyone?).

The big question that dawns on me as I read the bad reviews is why people would expect an epiphany or a message from a movie that is clearly made for entertainment purposes and not for it's Oscar potential. Because the heroes are not obvious heroes like we see nowadays? Because it deals with problem kids in a problem area of London? I found it more refreshing than disturbing, but that's just me.

The same goes for the comparison between this and Shaun of the Dead. Why would you compare the two? Because they're both English? Because both have Nick Frost in it? If you want more of the charismatic duo of Frost and Pegg please watch Hot Fuzz and Paul and be done with it. Both are excellent!

Leave Attack the Block for what it is, a wonderfully written action-sci/fi-horror movie with good performances and some funny bits.


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