A smart, funny take on the classic B-movie trope of kids left to their own devices to fight an alien invasion, Attack the Block's unique selling point is its setting in a South London council block, with the kids being a teenage gang of disaffected kids facing an enemy they've only known from TV, DVD and video games. What first-time director Joe Cornish does with it is not only perfectly respecting of the genre's time-honoured codes, down to the effortless quotes of the 1980s Spielberg era of teenage adventures, but also subversively smart in the way it mixes in the comedy stylings Mr. Cornish is known for and a couple of poignantly accurate but sparingly used social drama elements.

     B-movies have always been somewhat free from the need to carry "a message", which is why so many filmmakers have been able to use them as reflections of society at the time of its shooting, making the way Mr. Cornish uses those social elements as mere colouring that does not distract from the central kids-vs-aliens concept. Thus many of these tough posturing kids end up coming from pretty normal households and the only one who doesn't, self-appointed gang leader Moses (played by intense non-pro John Boyega), is the only one that would fit the stereotype but evades it by its actions. Also, the actual "alien invasion" turns out to be a surprising, and rather unusual, twist on the genre that earns points for originality. Mr. Cornish effectively harnesses the energy that the teenage cast radiates and channels it into the film's deftly, neatly organised structure, making Attack the Block into one zippy, highly enjoyable 90 minutes that breathe a very British fresh air into a genre that American blockbusters have bloated beyond recognition.

John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard; Luke Treadaway, Jumayn Hunter, Danielle Vitalis, Paige Meade, Michael Ajao, Sammy Williams; Nick Frost.
     Director/writer, Joe Cornish; cinematography (colour by Technicolor, widescreen), Tom Townend; music, Steven Price; designer, Marcus Rowland; costumes, Rosa Dias; editor, Jonathan Amos; visual effects, Ged Wright; creature effects, Mike Elizalde; producers, Nina Park, James Wilson (Big Talk Pictures for Studiocanal Features, Filmfour and The UK Film Council), UK/France, 2011, 88 minutes.
     Screened: DVD, Lisbon, March 31st 2012. 


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