Sunday, September 4, 2011

Attack the Block: Inner City Youth vs. Aliens

While most people were really excited about seeing Cowboys battling Aliens, especially because Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig were part of the fight, another alien invasion movie was featured during Comic-Con. It came from England, and was a big hit at a couple of movie festivals. It's also better than Cowboys battling Aliens. In some ways, Attack the Block is similar to Cowboys and Aliens. Naturally, we've got aliens attacking the earth, and the whole battle is centered in a small area. We also have less-than-heroic guys being the only ones who can save us all. It's easier to root for Daniel Craig as a gunfighter than an unknown who starts the movie robbing a nurse, and winds up as the guy who can stop the invasion. Yet, John Boyega makes quite an impression as Moses, the leader of a gang who is anything but heroic. He starts off the movie robbing a nurse, then his gag makes short work of an alien who lands near their apartment block in south London. He even shows the body off to friends, and Hi-Hatz, a fellow gangster. They think nothing of this....until a few other aliens show up. They are much tougher: big black dogs with glowing and sharp blue teeth. These guys cause a lot more problems. Joe Cornish, who wrote and directed this movie, does a wise thing: he keep s the action centered to the apartment block and not much further, It's a little like Alien, where the crew of a spaceship has to deal with a monster of its own. Seeing a couple of Moses' crew lost in fog, wonder where the monster is, really amps up the suspense. Through circumstance, Sam, the nurse who gets robbed, winds up getting involved in the fight, especially after the aliens take out two cops who just arrested Moses for mugging her. He also has to deal with Hi-Hatz, who thinks Moses is at fault for all that has happened. What Attack the Block has over Cowboys and Aliens is that Moses and his crew use some very clever ways to fend off the aliens, usually machetes or fireworks. Better yet, we don't have anyone providing "unexpected help" to Moses (unlike Cowboys and Aliens, where that "help" nearly ruined the film). He does it his way, and take responsibility in the end. I could have seen this at Comic-Con, but I was called to a red carpet for Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, which is also a great movie. Waiting an extra six weeks for Attack the Block was worth it, and proves once again that the story is what counts, not CGI boogey-men.

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