|In Short:||Kids from the projects repel the alien invasion -- some “big gorilla wolf motherfuckers.”|
|Recommended:||Yes, it’s delightful.|
|PROBS:||No one is going to call you Mayhem if you keep acting like such a pussy|
All the alien films out there that come easily to mind are those the like of Independence Day, or the Alien franchise, which showcase elite forces using skill and an almost superhuman effort to fight off the menace. Usually these films feature -- like in Cowboys and Aliens, also currently screening -- legitimate box office stars like Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, people who ooze an entitled masculinity. Not so in this film. This is the people’s invasion film: one about some kids from the block who take a break from the usual hooliganism to engage in some awesome alien fighting.
The movie doesn’t start out well. A young woman is walking down the sidewalk in the projects (in this case, a South London high-rise council estate) when she is mugged by some young hoods. One in particular opens a switchblade on her; we feel her fear and really don’t like these kids. And yet… the camera resolutely follows them as they sort through the loot, all the way to a meteor-like thing crashing through a nearby car. It turns out to be an alien monster. After a bit of a fight, the ringleader of the gang, Moses (John Boyega), kills it and drags the corpse through the neighborhood to impress his friends and the ladies.
They decide they can make some money from it, so they take it to the local pot dealer, Ron (Nick Frost). The kids ask if they can keep the alien in the grow house, as it’s a safe place. The drug boss, Hi-Hatz (Jumayne Hunter), agrees to the plan, but only if Moses will sell cocaine for him. (Oh, that kid is going in the Wrong Direction.) But then more aliens invade, and these ones are not like the other. They’re bigger, hairier, and have glowing teeth. So the kids go get some weapons (like fireworks!) and go out to get more aliens without letting their parents in on the menace.
At this point, I’ll cease to spoil. Hopefully, this is enough of a taste of this movie to entice you. Because this is the Alien Invasion movie average people were waiting for. Like most movies made in which children are the heroes, everyone is unaware of the aliens but the kids or the adults that more commonly interact with them on their level. For example, the biologist smoking pot with the 12-year old gang member is the one who figures out the way to get the aliens, but the father of one child is so oblivious he makes his son walk the dog before he can go fight aliens. However, this movie isn’t really made for children. The language is too coarse, the deaths too gruesome. It’s as if writer/director Joe Cornish believes in the fundamental inability of authority figures to get the job done and uses children as the vehicle of that subversion.
The other thing I liked about this movie was the accurate portrayal of the economically disadvantaged. Oftentimes, filmmakers only focus on the middle class, or if they do a treatment of the poor, it’s either depressing as hell or an indictment of their character. Here, it looks like the writer actually know what it’s like to be poor and feel that there will be no hope of a rescue from the outside. Most writers deal with poor people in clichés -- it’s not often that you hear lines out of their mouths that you could imagine people you know actually saying -- but at one point during Attack the Block, a character accuses the government of sending the aliens as a way of killing off the people living in the projects. This, coming from a South London malcontent, made a New York City audience laugh because it’s a common sentiment taken to its most ridiculous conclusion. And I loved it.
See this movie. It’s fresh and injects a newness into the alien invasion genre that was desperately needed. It provides a welcome counterpoint to blockbuster movies that may have quadruple the effects and one hundred times the budget, but have only half the character. There’s blood, action, joke-cracking, and social commentary. A person can’t go wrong, and I anticipate that this movie will be like the sci-fi version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding: an underground hit that will last far longer than anticipated, based on the rave word-of-mouth reviews of anyone who sees it.
-- Sara Paige