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Attack the Block


You gotta fight / For your right / To watch this!

Rod Lott October 24th, 2011

A festival hit, "Attack the Block" lives up to its reputation as an instant cult classic. After all, it's basically a stoner's version of 1986's "Critters" (or 1991's "Critters 3," to be technical) — so how could it not hold enduring appeal to the baked couch potatoes ingesting cheese puffs?

attacktheblock

But no worries: Illegal substances are not required to enjoy the lively British export. A deep appreciation for sci-fi/fantasy films of the 1980s, however, certainly won't hurt.

Just after new nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker, TV's "Wired") gets mugged by a group of young hoodlums who live in the same lower-class London apartment building as she, an alien falls from the sky. Led by headstrong Moses (newcomer John Boyega), the gang kills it, then notices many more invading their space. Suddenly, the bad boys realize they must do good or die, so they band together to protect their home turf from these "gorilla-wolf motherfuckers."

Although debuting director Joe Cornish (co-writer of Steven Spielberg's upcoming "Tintin" CGI-animated film) displays a keen sense of comic timing, what I liked best about "Attack the Block" were what I often despise in its modern genre peers: the creatures.

Whereas so many movie monsters feel derivative, Cornish's seem original, and deceptively simple: four-legged fur balls of black so deep and saturated, that could be mistaken for ink spills if not for the fluorescent blue threat of their many fangs. For the most part (at least from what I could tell), they're people in suits, too, rather than computer creations, so it's nice to see actors react to something actually sharing the frame. You don't see that often nowadays.

While its story is nothing special, it flows readily on a strange wave of charm. This is Cornish's MVW (most valuable weapon) and good thing he included it among his arsenal because the lil' criminals are so likable for so long, they risk putting viewers off for the entirety. Their UK accents are thick and riddled with slang like "bruv" and "innit," so turning on the DVD's English subtitles is recommended — an option unavailable to theatergoers, which may explain why "Block" wasn't the sleeper hit it deserved to be.

As with "Zombieland," it's fun without being funny, with enough lively set pieces to ensure repeatability, and a slew of behind-the-scenes features to satiate newcomers' desires to know more. Trust! —Rod Lott

 
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