The first time we really see our heroes in “Attack the Block” they are mugging a defenseless woman. They are cruel and irredeemable. Then aliens fall from the sky. The gang’s first reaction to encountering a creature from another world? Kicks it to death because it scratched up Moses’s face. That’s what happens during an alien invasion. Some people panic, some people go back to their flat to pick up their baseball bat.
Joe Cornish wrote and directed this fantastic debut. It’s such a well-paced and inventive movie, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been making films like this for years. The way he uses smoke, for example, lets him redefine a familiar location into something terrifying and foreign. Once the fight begins, it never completely slow down. The creatures aren’t stopping to plan anything out because they are so animalistic. There is no reasoning with them. They don’t have individual personalities or names. You can’t even see their eyes. They are the blackest black except for their identifiable teeth.
Having the army fight aliens is so overdone, it has become boring. Having a bunch of punk British teenagers is incredibly refreshing. Their lingo is so dense and fun to listen to. It works like “Brick” where specific words go over the head, but it always makes sense with their context. They don’t think too far ahead and until it starts becoming scary, they’re just having fun. They each have their own weapon as if they were Ninja Turtles. (They even have an April!)
The script comes together as a nice complete story with plenty of payoffs for the many characters. While having 10 characters bouncing around and always going to different parts of the block would be difficult to keep track of. Yet Cornish allows the actors to add their own personal charm to their characters. The movie goes by so fast there isn’t time for backstories or even to learn some of their names. They all function well as a group.
This film has been rolling out slowly hitting up most of the major cities before Indianapolis. The reaction from those cities and its initial run in England has been very positive. I just wish this came out a few weeks earlier, because this is one of the more satisfying summer movies. The action is strong, the characters are real, and all ages can enjoy (Given the ages are okay with profanity). If you thought “Super 8” had too much focus on trying to be nice to the alien, this is for you.