Attack the Block (2011)

John Boyega as Moses in Attack the Block

Alienhood

When "Attack the Block" was released there was a flood of hype, people loved it and compared it to "Shaun of the Dead", well Edgar Wright was an executive producer and Nick Frost had a supporting role. But that sounded to me like a bold claim because to be honest "Shaun of the Dead" set the benchmark for British Comedy Horror very high. Well on one hand "Attack the Block" is good with its story of Aliens attacking a London tower block and a gang of hoodies defending their territory. It has action, wit and for it's budget reasonable special effects using the money wisely to make more out of very little. But it is very much a movie aimed at the teenage market and whilst entertaining for older audiences has a significant flaw, those we should champion do not necessarily deserve to be championed.

Having just mugged Sam (Jodie Whittaker - St. Trinian's), Moses (John Boyega) and his crew witness a bright light and an explosion in a car where they discover a little creature which they beat to death. But they don't know what they have done because the creature is an alien and a whole hoard of angry alien monsters land on earth looking for vengeance. With no one else to help Moses and his band of hoodies must defend their block from alien attack.

Jodie Whittaker as Sam in Attack the Block

"Attack the Block" sets itself up for the fall very early on because in the opening scenes we see Sam mugged by a gang of teenage hoodies lead by Moses, they pull a knife on her and scare her witless whilst stealing her bag, phone and money. In that opening scene it makes Moses and his gang bad guys and this is compounded when we then witness them hunt down a creature that scratched Moses, kicking it to death and parading it around like they were heroes. Now some audiences may think this is cool but it serves up the problem that these guys are not the sort you should be championing.

Get past these opening scenes and the movie quickly gets into the meat of the story which sees more angry alien monsters arriving on earth looking for vengeance and Moses and his gang standing their ground, tooling up and defending their territory. It brings them back into contact with Sam who whilst still initially scared of Moses and his crew sees some goodness in them as they save her. It does get a bit repetitive as we get one alien attack after another as they are forced to head for safety in a weed room in the tower block but each moment of alien action is exciting and often a little comical.

That is where "Attack the Block" really comes into its own because whilst it has moments of humour it is full on action as Moses tries to protect the block and lead his crew to safety. We see fireworks used to disable these alien monsters, samurai swords wielded, lamps used to give electric shocks and more and it is exciting. And why it is so exciting is because on a relatively small budget these alien monsters are scary, jet black hairy beasts with luminous teeth, mouths full of these glowing gnashers. When they attack it is fierce and when they grab someone you are not spared the gruesomeness of death by an Alien jaw crushing down on a limb.

And to be honest the young stars such as John Boyega who plays Moses and Alex Esmail as Pest are entertaining even if they are playing cocky, sometimes aggressive hoodies. Boyega in particular stands out because he delivers attitude and ferocity but shows there is more lurking behind those angry eyes. The young cast are aided with nice performances from Jodie Whitaker as Sam and of course Nick Frost who adds some laid back slacker comedy as Ron.

What this all boils down to is that "Attack the Block" is an entertaining movie and whilst aliens attacking earth is not original having a group of London hoodies defending their block from the alien monsters makes it more interesting and often amusing. The only trouble is that our heroes just happen to be bad guys, abusive to the innocent as well as being muggers and no matter how heroic they are or in some cases funny it's hard to champion them.