Sunday, August 14, 2011

Attack the Block - Movie Review

This was an interesting movie. There's a lot of hype about this, which may have affected my review as I went in with really high expectations. I did enjoy Attack the Block, but came away feeling like it didn't quite live up to the hype. However, the more I think about Attack the Block, the more I liked it, especially now that I've had a few days to think about it.

The movie centers around a group of young teen thugs that mug a girl named Sam, played by Jodie Whittaker. While the mugging occurs, they are attacked by a creature that they track down and kill. After the killing, more creatures show up and it becomes clear to them that this is some kind of alien invasion. Rather than sit back and do nothing, they take the fight back to the streets. However they soon find out that they are over their heads.

Once the action gets started, they are running from the aliens, running from the police, and running from a local drug dealer all at once. There's a lot of running in this.

The story primarily follows the character Moses, played by newcomer John Boyega, and his friends. Boyega's actually pretty good here and is able to convey a lot without necessarily saying anything. There's a lot of comparisons to Goonies and I can see that a little bit, but the difference is that in the Goonies, the kids were more likable up front. In Attack, the kids start out as thugs and then they fight back because they are too stubborn, or stupid, to know otherwise. In Goonies, you have a goofy bunch of kids on a quest together to save from having to move from their home. There are parallels, but I didn't come away from this thinking I had just watched the next Goonies.

The kids all had distinct personalities and seemed like they were really friends, instead of being scripted as friends. If it weren't for the thug angle, you would have liked them a little more at first. Despite they are thugs, they do establish that they have a code.

There is an evolution to these kids through the movie as they start us just a bunch of thugs and then start to do heroic things. You go from not liking them, to cheering for them. It's an interesting story of character development. Moses, in particular, you start just thinking he's a punk, but by the end you do sympathize with him. In fact, there's a nice scene towards the end of the movie where Sam starts to learn more about Moses and you get the feeling she feels bad for him.

There are real consequences in this, which I liked. I won't spoil who, but characters actually die in this movie and you actually care based on the character development and personalities.

Jodie Whittaker kind of reminds me of Emily Mortimer. I felt like she was the voice of the viewer through the movie. I actually don't know what I meant by that. Maybe more like the voice of reason.

The creature design was interesting. More in the sense that these felt like something out of a nightmare, more than an actual creature. What were they? You never really get a good look at them and I think that's what helped sell this. I believe the creatures are mostly practical effects, too, instead of just some CG creature.

One warning though. This is a British film, so at times you have may have difficulty understanding what's being said due to the thick accents.

Attack was produced by Edgar Wright of Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead fame. Nick Frost pops up in this in a small, supporting role. This was written and directed by Joe Cornish, so you have to credit him for writing an interesting story with characters you end up caring about. He also wrote the screenplay for the upcoming The Adventures of Tintin, so that makes me look forward to that movie a little bit more.

As per request:

Number or rapes: 0
Number of boobs: 0
Number of murders: Lots!

Overall, it's pretty entertaining and it's nicely paced. There's a good amount of tension and action, mixed with humor. Granted, there are some parts where you'll feel like you need a translator. This isn't a movie for kids despite it staring a bunch of teens. This actually felt like the movie that Super 8 should have been.

I highly recommend checking it out. It's in limited release, but you might be able to find a theater in your area that has it. If you live in the Bay Area, it was playing at both The Metreon in SF and at the Hacienda in Dublin last time I checked, but with very limited show times.

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