So, yeah, ermh, just recently I’ve seen Attack the Block which is a film about aliens attacking, urmh, well, a block. That doesn’t really read like much, but as a film it rocks remarkably well. Unfortunately, it is a rather small film that doesn’t get the attention it deserves (though admittedly I became aware of it because movie critics on the interwebz praised it so highly), so let us devote some unimaginably expensive blog-space for this little gem of a film to provide yet another google find for interested cine-o-philes.
Attack the Block was released to cinemas in the UK in May 2011, and was written and produced by a fellow named Joe Cornish. It was produced on a budget of about 13 Million US-Dollars and apparently didn’t even earn half of it back in cinemas. Which is a shame, really.
The relatively small budget of the film doesn’t show. It’s not like it looks like the Matrix come again or the Dark Night in terms of “we got money to blow on this, y’all”, but let me tell you: I’ve seen movies with ten times the budget looking a hundred times cheaper and cheesier. The film uses its money effectively, limiting the area the plot and action take place in to basically one project house and its surroundings, but that only benefits the film and its structure.
Most surprisingly, the aliens are good. Like really good, effective, believable aliens. Granted, the reason why they’re there is not clear, nor why they’re doing what they’re doing but I stand by my belief that sometimes narratives work better because they offer no explanation (though, ok, the gang comes up with one, kinda, but you can still decide if you want to believe them). But they manage to walk the thin line of looking fresh, still scary, and most of all real. Basically they’re big furballs of black with glowing teeth. They look kinda cute – until they start to run for you and are set on attack-mode. And then there is the first one that looks very different from all others, but also very Alienesque, which is of course always a good thing in my book.
Let’s not fool ourselves, the whole movie is structured like the classical zombie-movie with a small bunch of people having to defend themselves from attacking
zombies aliens in a limited area. But that is also where the film’s amazingness kicks in high gear.
Cause lemme tell you, while zombie movies often suck (since the band of survivors are just the jerkiest shetbags out there imaginable) in this case the band of “survivors” or rather the gang who has to defend themselves from the alien attack are A.W.E.S.O.M.E.
And they basically start out being complete assholes. Robbing the nurse Sam they seem to be your regular project kids with their everyday-troubles, the likes of joblessness, fatherlessness, perspectivelessness, and a whole other bunch of –lessnesses, more than I can think of, really. So, what seems to start like the classic tale of poor righteous white woman being robbed by thugs of color turns into a crazy battle against aliens in defense of, well yeah, the block, but most of all their very lives. And as it turns out, these kids are not assholes, they are just a little less privileged than a lot of white asses (oh hi stoner kid, yeah, I’m looking at you) and have to function a little better within rigid systems of masculinity in order to not have their teeth kicked in. Vicious cycle and lack of perspective is what it’s also called.
And therein lies the beauty of the film (despite battles against aliens, yay): It not only lets its characters grow, but it constantly avoids making final judgements. People behave the way they behave for a reason and why not try to understand that first? Sometimes listening to a genuine “I’m sorry” and accepting it is just as hard as actually saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it.
Well, I for once, am a little sorry I don’t a have a whole lot more to say about the movie than this actually. I could end the review right there, but that sounds all a little too grand. It is a really good movie, especially as far as monster movies and blockbusters go. It dares to care about its characters and does not shy away from social critique and taking a stand. Having said all that, I don’t think it’s a masterpiece, I still think there is room for improvement (the rapping drug-dealer thug and his ride, really?). But the road Attack the Block takes is definitely the right one, and sad to say: that’s rare enough.