REVIEW: Attack the Block

25 07 2011

When I had the chance to see “Attack the Block” back in May 2011, it had neither a release date in the United States nor a domestic trailer.  Its strongest advocates were fanboy-type bloggers on sites like /Film, so I went in with fairly high expectations.  Based on the only trailer I could find, which was for its recent release in the United Kingdom, I had the impression that the film was a comedy with some alien butt-kicking added in the mix.

However, when I walked out of the theater (at the end of the movie – it wasn’t THAT bad), none of my preconceived notions held up.  It was more of an alien invasion horror movie that had some incidental humor, mainly from an easy and tired source – marijuana.  If it was intended to be a comedy, it lost a lot of hilarity on the voyage across the pond.  I’ve never been a big fan of British humor, but I’ve always managed to get a few good chuckles out of movies like “Shaun of the Dead” or “Hot Fuzz.”  This, on the other hand, provided very little in the way of laughter.

But speaking of the films of Edgar Wright, “Attack the Block” feels like a very belated rip-off of the now famous director’s conventions and style, particularly “Shaun.”  Wright isn’t my favorite director, but Joe Cornish’s imitation sure made me appreciate the original even more.  His “Attack the Block,” while entertaining and amusing at times, doesn’t come close to replicating the creativity or fun of a Wright film at any point in its short duration.

American audiences in July, however, will see parallels between another film: “Super 8.”  Both feature teenagers fighting strange extraterrestrials that threaten their homes and livelihoods.  The difference, though, is that “Attack the Block” does not have a visionary director like J.J. Abrams at the helm.  Even though Abrams was paying homage to an earlier innovator, a take on Spielberg is inevitably more entertaining than a take on Edgar Wright.  To top it off, the teens of “Attack the Block” were just plain vulgar and unsympathetic (juvenile delinquents tend to be like that).  Not to sound like a prejudiced American, but their practically unintelligible and profane vernacular just didn’t register with me at all either.

So by all means, in case you haven’t had enough retread this summer, spend your time and money on “Attack the Block.”  It’s a redundant movie not only within its own genres, but within the season as well.  B- / 

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One response

24 09 2011
hatedandslated

This film has had a lot of plaudits so I think your review redresses the balance somewhat. Personally, I didn’t enjoy the film much at all, and I’m from Britain, and I did enjoy films like ‘Shaun’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’.

I thought this was quite lame and the humor was so obvious and contrived to not be funny. It didn’t seem to know whether it was a horror or a comedy, thus failing to satisfy both genres.

I also agree with your analysis of the main characters – they were loutish and therefore rather unsympathetic. They also seemed like a lot of middle class kids straight out of drama college and didn’t convey the true grittiness and attitude of real working class kids in Britain.

In truth, I was completely disengaged throughout.

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