Attack the Block (2011)

(On DVD, December 2011) Sometimes, all you need is a good old premise with new characters and setting.  So it is that Attack the Block, one of the most entertaining of 2011’s crop of alien-invasion movies, is basically “aliens invade inner-city London; the local hoods fight back.” It works pretty well, as long as you get over the opening narrative lump of portraying the local hoods realistically.  They’re reprehensible to the affluent white audiences most likely to watch the film, but writer/director Joe Cornish eventually walks the audience back to a tremendous amount of sympathy for his unlikely heroes.  The rest of the film is almost pure fun as the local street gang defends itself from hungry monsters from outer space.  Much of Attack the Block’s charm is pure execution: confident camera work, astonishing performances from a cast of mostly-unknowns (including headliner John Boyega), very clever creature design and a neatly wrapped script that manages to tie nearly everything together.  It’s a very unusual Science Fiction film in that it dares to explore a conventional idea with an unconventional cast of character; it speaks volume about Cornish’s work that by the end of the film, we have gained both understanding and respect for the street gang.  One essential tip: leave the subtitles on, as even the best-meaning audiences will have a bit of trouble understanding the thick South London inner-city street accent.

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