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- / 

WTLFT: July 2011

8 06 2011

Yeah, I shortened the name.  It’s a lot more palatable.  This post will tell you What To Look Forward To in the month of July.  We have transformers, captains, teen stars, teen wizards, sex friends, zoo friends, hellish bosses, honey bears, and smurfs – just to name a few.  Here they all are; you can make up your mind if any of these actually appeal to you.

July 1

Cheating- “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” actually comes out on June 29, and, if you want to get really technical, June 28 at 9:00 in IMAX 3D and RealD 3D.  So while you curse me for my horrific crimes against nature, humanity, and blogging, watch the trailer and decide for yourself whether or not you want to subject yourself to Shia LaBeouf and a lot of loud noises orchestrated by Michael Bay.

On the quieter side of things, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts plan to use their star power to fill seats at “Larry Crowne,” which looks like perfectly middle-of-the-road rom-com territory.  On the louder side of things again – and by louder, I mean girlish screams and constantly ringing cell phones – “Monte Carlo” gives young girls what they need during the summer.  A nice helping of Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, and Leighton Meester should have the tweeners saying “OMG!” until the next season of “Wizards of Waverly Place” hits the small screen. (There’s also a creepy thriller called “The Perfect Host” starring David Hyde Pierce, which I feel obliged to mention since it’s the only indie offering amidst these studio genre pics.)

July 8

Fingers crossed that “Horrible Bosses” will be funny!  I remember reading a piece on a blog for The Los Angeles Times well before the movie started production that praised it, so hopefully it stuck to the script.  If it’s a hit, I motion for Jennifer Aniston to stop doing horrible rom-com fare and stick to raunchy comedy; I chuckle every time I watch the trailer and hear her say, “Shabbat shalom; someone’s circumcised!”

As for “Zookeeper” … well, I hope the kids enjoy it.

I’ve definitely been going through a documentary phase ever since last year’s “Inside Job” rocked my world, and Michael Rappaport’s “Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest” could feed my obsession quite well.  It follows the titular hip-hop group (known as A Tribe Called Quest if you are as clueless as I was) from formation to fame.  Best case scenario it provides a fascinating expose of the craft of rapping much like “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” did for standup comedy last summer.  Worst case scenario I get to see some of my favorite artists talking about a group I’ve never heard of before.

Another interesting documentary (that I can only PRAY makes it to Houston sometime before I leave for college) is “Project Nim,” the story of a chimpanzee experiment.  I’ve always been interested in stories where lines and boundaries we once thought clear are exposed and shown to be more porous and relative than we thought, and this looks to deliver on a big scale.

July 15

Some tiny little series ends on screen.  It’s no big deal, it’s not like these movies define my youth.  It’s not like it’s a worldwide phenomenon.  But in all seriousness, I’m not going to cry.  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” – BRING IT ON!

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