Sunday, August 14, 2011
Review: "Attack the Block"
While a group of young London thugs are in the midst of a robbery, a mysterious object crashes into a nearby car. Upon further investigation, Moses (John Boyega), the group’s leader, is attacked by a strange animal. After chasing it down and beating it to death, the group realizes that they have an alien on their hands. Juiced up from their triumph, Moses and his crew take the alien creature back to their apartment building (a low-rent complex that borders on a slum) and store the body in the pot room of the building’s drug dealer. Shortly thereafter, they begin to see more falling balls of fire and their neighborhood is soon infested with vicious, eyeless gorilla-bear creatures that seem to find Moses and his gang wherever they go. With no one else to help, the young crew is forced to battle against the extraterrestrial beasts with an assortment of fireworks, kitchen knives, and a showpiece samurai sword.
“ATB” falls right in line with the better works of executive producer Edgar Wright, such as “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” It is an alien invasion-comedy that transitions into more of a horror-comedy as the action unfolds. These three aspects come together beautifully and at no point does “ATB” become too bogged down in one genre or the other. Meaning, it isn’t overly funny to the point of becoming an out-and-out comedy but neither does it delve too deeply into a heavy sci-fi plotline or a gory blood fest. The blending of the different genres in a movie like this is always the tough part (see: “Cowboys and Aliens”) and writer/director Joe Cornish displays a sly ability to do just that and makes “ATB” a film that should appeal to a wide range of nerdy fanboys. The well-crafted story is wild fun, easily engaging, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call it witty, it is much smarter than you might think.
There is no pretense to “ATB” and that may be its stroke of genius. Whereas “Cowboys and Aliens” leads with a simple and bold title but bogs down in an overly complex and burdensome plot, this film avoids complexity to the extreme. It’s just teenagers fighting aliens, plain and simple. Even the explanation for the aliens coming to London is simple and sufficient, enough to create a plausible reason for making the film in the first place but it doesn’t lead “ATB” off into an abyss of sci-fi mythos. In short, it’s a great time at the movie theater, or at least it will be if the pair behind you isn’t arguing about the merits of their favorite respective Disney films: “Shrek” and “Ice Age.” I could not make that up.
“Shrek” is clearly a better “Disney” movie than “Ice Age”,