“Attack the Block” is like one great, big ball of energy from out of this world.
In spite of its seemingly miniscule budget, you simply have to admire the spirit and vigor that writer/director Joe Cornish injects into each and every solitary scene of “Attack the Block,” a sci-fi comedy that, much like the aliens that are featured in the film, hits the ground running baring sharp teeth (wit) that warrants wow.
Jodie Whitaker plays Sam, a trainee nurse who is robbed by a gang of masked, hooded youths while walking home to her flat in a scary South London tower block. However, she is saved when the gang is distracted by a bright meteorite, which falls from the sky and hits a nearby parked car. Sam flees, just before the gang is attacked by a small alien creature that leaps from the wreckage.
Moses (John Boyega), the leader of said gang, chases the creature and kills it, dragging its ghoulish carcass to the top of the block for safe keeping. That is when he and his friends notice a second wave of meteors. Confident of victory against such feeble invaders, each of them grabs a weapon, mounts their bike or mopeds and sets out to defend their turf.
However, these creatures are bigger than before – savage, shadowy and bestial with bright blue teeth that glow in the dark. And when Sam encounters Moses and his gang a second time, they become her – and the block’s – only hope to survive the alien attack as the estate becomes a battleground that is quite different than the one it is on a daily basis.
“Attack the Block” features a relatively large ensemble cast but standouts include Luke Treadaway as a stoner that seems scared to death with life itself not to mention the alien invasion and Alex Esmail as one of the gang’s more level-headed members even if it is just born from self-survival. On the other hand, Nick Frost is all but wasted in a bit role likely to have been included to generate hype overseas.
Having said that, “Attack the Block” works best as a cult hit as opposed to a blockbuster. The moment someone tries to convince you that this is something that it is not, the movie begins to lose its simple charm. After all, Cornish utilizes his resources incredibly well but the movie still looks fairly low-budget and is therefore a B-movie at best.
Of course, there is also the issue of the unique style of South London street speech, which is close to inaudible in the beginning. Perhaps it is just my American intolerance but when it gets in the way of my ability to root for a bunch of heroes that are generally unlikeable without even opening their mouths, it must be mentioned. Still, “Attack the Block” is cool incarnate and bound to make you laugh just as often as it makes you jump clear out of your seat.
“Attack the Block” (R – 88 minutes) is now playing exclusively in the Cine Capri at Harkins Tempe Marketplace. Visit FirstLook.com for specific showtimes.
Listen to Joseph J. Airdo’s “Movie Maverick” radio segment, every Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. during “The Daily Blender with Jeffry O’Brien” on KBSZ – NBC 1260 AM and 96.1 FM.