I sometimes have to approach movies that I’ve been dying to see months before actually getting to see them with a sense of restraint. High levels of anticipation can be dangerous for two main reasons- the movie may end up not living up to the standards you set for it leaving you disappointed and the possibility of giving the film too much credit because you’ve already told yourself you were going to love it. ATTACK THE BLOCK is a film that made all my doubts disappear the second the title card appeared on screen. This is an alien invasion film that’s fun, witty and surprisingly scary at times.
All you really need to know about ATTACK THE BLOCK is that it is set in London, features a group of- for lack of a better word- hoodlums that discover an alien invasion that’s taking place on their block and take it upon themselves to exterminate the problem. Moses (John Boyega) is the leader of the group as the kids do everything they can to outrun, fight and hide from the alien threat as well as other dangers along the way.
ATTACK THE BLOCK begins with the group of protagonists mugging a woman (Jodie Whittaker) before one of the alien’s pods comes crashing down from the sky. It seems like a dangerous choice to show your heroes of the movie in such a despicable act when they are supposed to be characters we as viewers have to connect with and care what happens to them. The great thing about the film is that as thing progress Moses and his friends become much more sympathetic and enjoyable as their characters become more humanized. It’s also a strength of the film to convey a situation where people can band together and work out their issues in the midst of an extreme situation.
The script by Joe Cornish who also acts as director in incredibly sharp and satisfying as it moves almost seamlessly from scene to scene with so many different characters and ideas coming across on screen. There are very few spots to stop and get your bearings before we are thrust into another tense situation with the aliens always right on the heels of the group of kids. There are a ton of laughs had along the way which made it almost impossible for me to not have a phenomenal time watching the film.
The more surprising aspect for me was how tense and even scary certain scene was. The scares are of the jump variety but effective and the tension of the film is done very well. The tension comes from watching the aliens charge toward their victims and the fact that Cornish establishes that just cause there are kids involved doesn’t mean everyone is safe. The humor doesn’t overshadow the tension either- much of the jokes are organic to the situation and blends well with the abnormality of the situation the characters are in.
Aside from writing, and the great performances from the kids two of the strongest aspects of the film are the effects/look of the aliens and an amazing score. The very first alien you see is far different from the rest you see throughout the film which if you’ve seen the trailer you have an idea if not potential spoiler, but they are start black, look like gorillas but with rows of neon colored glowing teeth- and they look incredible. The sound effects for the noises they make are just as astonishing because it just adds to the mood and attitude of the film as well as lending itself to the tension and scares.
The score sounds a bit reminiscent to that of Daft Punk’s score from TRON: LEGACY only I’d venture to say that while I do love Daft Punk’s score, the music in ATTACK THE BLOCK I found more effective. The highlight for me that just sent me over the moon as far as how much I loved the movie was the slow motion during the finale, which just blew me away.
ATTACK THE BLOCK is a film that impressed me on nearly every filmmaking level that speaks to me as a fan. The writing is top notch, the actors take the material to the next level, the soundtrack is amazing, there are thrills, there are chills and the aliens look amazing. From beginning to end there wasn’t a single thing I want to complain about except that I almost wish the film had been a little longer if only because I was loving every second of the film- and some might find the thick English accents hard to understand at times (though it never bothered me). There’s definitely a throwback type of vibe throughout the film, but overall I believe ATTACK THE BLOCK is one of the best modern alien movies since DISTRICT 9 that completely blew me away. ATTACK THE BlOCK should be sought out immediately by anyone and everyone with a love for alien movie and cinema in general.