the fresh films reviews

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Attack the Block (2011)

Joe Cornish
United Kingdom
88 minutes
Nira Park
James Wilson
Joe Cornish

Cast includes:

Moses John Boyega
Sam Jodie Whittaker
Pest Alex Esmail
Dennis Franz Drameh
Jerome Leeon Jones
Biggz Simon Howard
Brewis Luke Treadaway
Hi-Hatz Jumayn Hunter
Ron Nick Frost



The alien-attack sub-genre, which in the 1950s, 60s and 70s was innovative in and of itself, has long since become so conventional that fresh and inspirational entries are very rare to come by. It has been spoofed to pieces more than once, and so when the crude and largely cliched Attack the Block was hailed for its creativity by critics and at festivals last year, the only credible explanation I can think of is that the expectations for this genre is at an all-time low.

While it is nice to see a local South London approach to the casting and some of the issues discussed, it doesn't help the film much that the actors are low on talent and the script only starts showing fragments of quality towards the end. The combination of an apparently serious threat and a bunch of flippant characters kills any hope of suspense and raises the stakes for the comedy to a level which writer/director Joe Cornish cannot match. The film's flimsy foundation puts him in the predicament of having to trust his assembly of juvenile usual suspects, of which only one (Simon Howard) shows any notable sign of acting talent. Why we're expected to feel sympathy for any of the other characters is very unclear, unless the film is making some sort of implicit socialist comment about social injustice and behaviourism.

With the addition of some stupid supporting roles (Jumayn Hunter as an aggressive drug-dealer and Nick Frost as his lame sidekick), Attack the Block limits itself to a stereotypical presentation of gang-culture intertwined with a far too familiar sci-fi/horror premise. And while the special effects aren't half bad, other technical aspects such as the editing is more reminiscent of a student film than a theatrical release. Contrary to many other mediocre films in this sub-genre, however, Attack the Block's best feature is the ending, which has a sense of decency and some clever explanations (notably the justification of the aliens' behavioir), and I'll give praise where praise is due, but there's only so much a good wrap-up can gloss over.

Copyright 26.2.2012 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang