Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Attack the Block

Put on your masks and take out the fireworks, we're reviewing Attack the Block!
I'm semi-interested in doing a minimalist poster for this.
Believe all the hype. Attack the Block takes an original idea and provides a fun and fulfilling narrative.  It's this year's Scott Pilgrim, in that barely anyone will see it but everyone will be talking about it.  If Cowboys and Aliens left you high and dry in the originality department, this will be your sparkling oasis.
Moses(John Boyega) and his rakish group of miscreants live in a South London apartment complex they dub "The Block" where they mug, bully, and cause an overall sense of mayhem. They think they're the baddest things out there until rocks start falling from the sky housing viscous black aliens. Now they have to ban together to defend their home from an alien invasion! Believe!

The story is tight and the pacing is fluid. They get right into the action; five minutes into the movie and you already know who the characters are and what the main plot's going to be.  Aspiring movie makers should take note of Attack's streamlined story. Things that would take lesser movies an hour to set up get explained in mere minutes. With only a handful of quick scenes, we know who the characters are, what they want, what's behind their actions, and what they'll do to get it.

The protagonist's main character arc is beautiful.  In the beginning, we know Moses is a bad guy. Not a kinda so-so bad guy with a heart of gold, a bad fucking guy. He's a thug and a bully and all he cares about being the baddest dude in town. He's on his way to being a proper villain when shit hits the fan and he starts to learn things. Filmmakers take note: THIS IS WHAT A CHARACTER ARC IS.  He's one way, he learns what he's doing is wrong, and he changes over time.

Probably the only actor you'll recognize in this is Nick Frost from Shaun of the Dead.  The unknowns pull it off. Moses feels like a real thug(who you really feel for once you find out more about him), and each of his friends feels funny and realistic. "Man I just wanna go home, lock my doors, and play some Fifa." They pull off being hoodlums but they're also hilarious when they act like real kids running from aliens.

They do have archetypes here, but you have to stare at them hard through a magnifying glass to see them. That is how you use an archetype, not as a stand-in for a character, but as a building block.  They do set up little things for the side characters to do later in the film, but they don't hammer it in and they're all fulfilling in the end. Also, if you didn't know, this is an R rated alien movie, and they are not afraid to kill off their kids. The deaths don't feel cliche and they add weight to the characters that live.

Oh hey, wait, this an alien movie, right? What about the aliens? Well those guys are pretty creative too.  They have an interesting glowing teeth gimmick and provide a good reason for explaining why they don't wear clothes: they're not an advanced species trying to take hold of our resources, they're just wild animals. From Space! They're viscous, killable if alone but a handful when in a pack, and thanks to some smart cinematography, you don't see just enough of them to be intrigued.

The action is realistic and creative: None of them are fighting masters but being thugs they know how to swing a pipe and shoot a rocket. The chase scenes are a blast and the soundtrack is killer catchy.

Being American, I cant tell which is regular London dialect and which is lingo made up by the movie, but I love all of it. Sometimes it's hard to understand just what the hell they're saying, but the dialogue is fun and gives the neighborhood added depth.

Why you should see it: A great original alien invasion story
Why you shouldn't: Only if you're skittish of monster movies or it's not playing in your area
Overall: A must-see for lovers of alien flicks and movies alike
One Scene Metaphor: When the first alien crashes, it scratches Moses' faces and skitters away. Instead of going, "What the hell was that?! Let's investigate!", Moses goes, "I don't care what that is I'ma fuck it up!" Instead of it being cliche and not making sense, it's unique and adds depth to the character.

1 comment:

  1. Good review! I saw an advance screening in Baltimore and LOVED it.