Author: LOEY LOCKERBY , Special to The Star
Have we had enough alien-invasion movies for one year? After Battle Los Angeles, Super 8 and Cowboys & Aliens, it’s hard to muster much excitement for yet another tale of extraterrestrial nasties. Call it E.T. Fatigue.
Don’t write off the genre just yet, though. While it lacks originality, Attack the Block zooms along with energy and deadpan humor.
Some teenage thugs, led by Moses (John Boyega), rob a nurse (Jodie Whittaker) as she walks to her apartment in a South London housing project. Their crime is interrupted when an object comes crashing out of the sky, bringing with it a ferocious creature that the kids mistake for a dog. They kill it and take it to a local drug dealer (Nick Frost), who lets them store it in his “pot room.”
Before long, more things are landing in the neighborhood, but they’re not so easy to dispatch. They’re also unusually interested in Moses and his companions, who band together with the nurse, some fellow locals and a slumming rich guy (Luke Treadaway) who just wants to get stoned and find his car.
Writer/director Joe Cornish is a veteran of British television, and he knows how to make the most of a small budget. What money there was (a reported $13 million) clearly went into the aliens, inky black monsters with glowing teeth who like to climb up the sides of buildings. The characters use terms like “gorilla” and “wolf” to describe them, along with several choice expletives, all of it delivered in vivid (if occasionally hard to decipher) slang.
Nearly all the young actors are making their film debuts, and they’re funny and unaffected performers. Cornish even gets some depth out of them, especially in Boyega’s case. The high-rise location is also put to good use, with dark hallways and twisting stairs offering inexpensive opportunities to build suspense.
Although it may develop a cult following, Attack the Block isn’t the kind of movie people will go around quoting or make the centerpiece of a viewing party. It’s just an entertaining example of a premise far too many filmmakers are using. And there’s really nothing wrong with that.
Now, if we could just get them to stop putting zombies in everything …
Attack the Block: 2 1/2 stars out of 4
Rated R Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes