When aliens attack, they better not land in inner city South London. That's the message in Attack the Block, the entertaining but inconsequential action-comedy about a bunch of pitch-black aliens with glowing razor-sharp teeth who meet their match in a group of ragtag hoodlums.
From writer-director Joe Cornish, one of the writers of the upcoming The Adventures of Tintin, Attack the Block begins with a nurse named Sam (Jodie Whittaker) getting mugged on her way home by a group of kids, led by 15-year-old Moses (John Boyega). In the middle of the robbery, an alien crashes into a nearby car, a precursor of a bigger invasion about to occur. Out of necessity, Sam, Moses and the rest of the gang form an unlikely alliance to survive - and take back the block.
Funny and fast-paced, Attack the Block is an odd blend of lightheartedness, comedy, action, aliens and gore. The movie doesn't take itself too seriously and doesn't expect the audience to either, but there's nothing goofy about the aliens or their attack. Once things get going, which is right away, the movie rarely lets up.
As fun as Attack the Block is, it is by no means the next best thing in the alien invasion genre. The fast-paced nature of the film comes at the expense of character development, suspense and, strangely, excitement. Cornish never allows his characters to take a step back and realize the gravity of what's happening, a seemingly intentional stroke that takes away from the effectiveness of the story. Though the characters are always in peril, nothing much seems at stake other than the lives of a few dead-end and hollow teenagers. With nothing at stake, it's hard to get excited over what's happening on screen.
Still, Attack the Block is worth watching. The aliens, who are so black they are the absence of color are pretty cool and imaginative, which is especially impressive given the movie's $13 million budget. The movie has plenty of action, some gory moments and a few hearty laughs. Attack the Block is entertaining, and that's all it was ever intended to be.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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