Attack the Block
Joe Cornish’s debut, Attack the Block, seemed to be getting good press even before anyone had seen it. Being friends with Edgar Wright and Steven Spielberg doesn’t hurt especially when you’re releasing a mainstream sci-fi movie that’s also a comedy. Perhaps that’s why I feel a slight bitterness that this warmth and good feeling has spilled over into reviews that have ranged from ‘glowing’ to ‘worshipping’. It’s not that I think Attack the Block is a particularly bad film, it’s just that I can’t believe I’m the only person who’s seen this movie and been a little frustrated by the whole experience.
The premise is fun. Mutant gorilla style aliens land in South London and get into a turf war with a group of juvenile delinquents. It’s super hip and super relevant and it’s a funny premise that works all the way through. The problem is in the execution. The kids (Moses, Talky, Speccy, Angry and Hidey) aren’t the greatest actors in the world and this doesn’t help to smooth out the slightly clunky dialogue. There are genuinely funny lines (‘I made you now I’m gunna dead you!’) and I can guarantee that you’ll leave the cinema talking about how ‘bare ‘spensive dem tickets woz’ or how you wanted ‘to merk* dat usher’ but in the mouths of these untested actors the words ring slightly untrue.
The action, however, is handled well, especially on a tight budget. Rather than creating the monsters by CGI the principal photography was done by a professional parkour artist(?) in a monkey suit. This realism is both a strength and a weakness and the action takes on a visceral (literally) form but also sometimes strays into a B-movie style that is not really fitting with the movies inevitable multiplex setting. I have a feeling that the whole thing will fly better the other side of the pond where audiences will inevitably delight in seeing a side of London that isn’t stuttering monarchs or stuttering Hugh Grants.
Fun and fresh but let down by disappointing acting and boorish writing. If it’s not a heresy to say it, this could’ve been a lot better.
*Assuming that ‘merk’ means ‘kill’ and not ‘proposition’.