From the producers of 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' comes 'Attack the Block,' another genre-twisting comedy that puts a welcome spin on the typical alien invasion movie. Written and directed by Joe Cornish, the film has cult classic written all over it, from its buzzed-about debut at SXSW in March to its tongue-in-cheek take on its creature feature roots.
Want to know what all the fuss is about, and what thug kids are doing taking on giant aliens with glow-in-the-dark teeth? Maybe those South London accents have you struggling to decipher the movie's trailer? You're in luck. We'll break down just what 'Attack the Block' is about, and why you should give it a shot.
Warning: Spoiler Alert!
What Is 'Attack the Block' About?
Like his friend and executive producer Edgar Wright before him, British comedian Joe Cornish shows off an abiding and encyclopedic love of genre movies with his directorial debut 'Attack the Block.' A 'Gremlins' and 'Tremors'-style comedy about aliens invading the inner city, the film drops a horde of vicious aliens into a South London council estate against an equally vicious gang of teens to watch how things shake out.
A cast of first-timers (led by John Boyega as Moses) make up the gang of 14- and 15-year-olds who terrorize the streets around their apartment block. As fireworks light up the night sky in celebration of Guy Fawkes Day, the kids mug Sam (Jodie Whittaker), a young nurse on her way home from work. But the mugging's interrupted when a fiery object falls out of the sky and crashes into a nearby parked car -- the beginnings of an alien invasion by interstellar drifters. And like any good street toughs, Moses and his crew track down the ET and give it a warm welcome.
They cart their trophy back to the "block" to be examined by Ron ('Hot Fuzz' star Nick Frost), a local weed dealer with a fondness for leather track suits and National Geographic. But soon more aliens touch down, coming after their fallen comrade, and the kids quickly learn that not only do they not come in peace, but these bigger, meaner aliens, like fuzzy black bears with razor-sharp fluorescent teeth, don't go down quite as easy, either.
Armed with samurai swords and bottle rockets, it's up to the gang to defend the block. But to do so, they have to contend not just with pissed-off aliens, but the police and a seriously unhinged local drug kingpin (Jumayn Hunter) as well.
But Why Should You See It?
Much like 'Shaun of the Dead,' 'Attack the Block' uses its fantastical genre movie premise as a launching pad for delving into other real-life issues, like loyalty, the consequences of violence and the problems facing British youth culture. Inspired by his own experience being mugged near his South London home, Cornish noticed that the kids robbing him seemed just as scared as he was. As a result, 'Attack the Block' plays on the divide between the teens' ages and their tough-guy attitudes for both comedic effect and social commentary.
Like most alien invasion movies, 'Attack the Block' follows a group of unexpected allies who must band together to fight back and defend their home -- only in this case, home is an inner-city apartment building, and the heroes are a bunch of juvenile delinquents on the precipice of becoming career criminals. But for all their tough posturing, Moses and his gang are still just kids who have to be home by 10 once they're done terrorizing the neighborhood and/or fending off giant alien monsters. And once we get to know them, they're actually kind of sweet, whether they're chastising Sam for swearing too much or wishing they could just go home and play video games.
The social commentary can get a bit heavy-handed at times, but that comes with the territory with this new breed of high-minded exploitation flick. A movie about how people can surprise you, so can 'Attack the Block,' if you let it.
-- Photo provided by Sony Pictures