Most entertaining film of the year, by far; a fantastic horror comedy perfectly okay for teens
Attack the Block was on my must-see list ever since SXSW premiered it, but since its main characters are British hoodies (gangsters) that used a lot of street slang in pretty hard accents, the likelihood of it coming here was pretty slim. Until Screen Gems, Stage 6 and Sony picked it up for US release, that is. And although I'm a little bit angry at their method of distributing it in only seven cities for the time being (but I understand why), I'm glad we get it. Why? It's the most fun I've had at the movies this year! (And this has been a pretty good year to begin with...) More on ATB itself: the film opens with a young woman named Sam getting mugged by a group of five hoodies named Moses, Pest, Dennis, Jerome and Biggz. The attack is interrupted, however, by an alien life form crashing into a car, and the hoodies subsequently attack and kill it while Sam calls the police at her house in the local council estate (welfare apartment/public house). Little does she know that all five of the hoodies live in the same council estate - and the aliens will be invading it any minute. Against all odds, the group of six teams up to fight them off. Along the way, we meet Ron (Nick Frost, who's as amazing as ever), a drug dealer who smokes joints with the gang, his stoner friend Brewis, another really bad drug dealer named Hi-Hatz, who thinks he's the king of the block, and a cast of crazy tenants (some related to the hoodies), including two nine-year-olds named Mayhem and Probs who want to fight aliens with the big boys too. Indeed, everything about Attack the Block is fantastic: the visual effects (especially the monsters' glowing teeth), the score (by Steven Price, Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe - we know the other two as Basement Jaxx), the acting (many people here are unknowns, and John Boyega as Moses is the best of them), and especially the dialogue. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and they're not all in the trailers (unlike most movies). Attack the Block is hilarious and satisfying in a sea of by-the-book horror and comedy films. It's also appropriate for teens like its forebears, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead (both directed by Edgar Wright, who produced this film). Violence is pretty rampant throughout. While the film starts off with a mugging and a bit of knife threat involved, that's the only part that's realistic in its depiction. It's when the aliens come out that things get gory. The aliens wreak a lot of havoc on the council estate, with bloody bitings and scratchings, a decapitation, a lot of head and throat-ripping, and blood spurts all around. The strongest moment is when Hi-Hatz and his cohort get eaten and ripped to pieces by the aliens in an elevator. We briefly see one of their bloody heads ripped to the bone, but there are three things that mitigate this: it looks fake, it's only shown for about two seconds, and it's done to an evil character, so he pretty much gets what's coming to him. The hoodies get back at the aliens with many weapons, including katanas, flick knives, the occasional handgun, a Super Soaker filled with gasoline, a lighter, and fireworks, among others. There are also a few jump scenes. Language is quite raw, with about 50 f-bombs and 3 mf-bombs, mostly said by the teen cast, but sometimes said by the two 9-year-olds, and there's milder profanity like "p*ssy", "sh*t", "b*tch", "*ssh*le", "d*mn" and "h*ll". There are only one or two really crude sexual references worth noting. Finally, there's a lot of drug use, especially since the kids end up hiding in Ron's Weed Room (a big room full of weed, and it's Ron's), and the main antagonist deals cocaine (not shown). However, even though the hoodies do pass around and roll joints, they're clearly disoriented after smoking. Moses, the leader of the gang, is pretty much anti-drug. Well, that's it. Overall, this is the best time I've had at the movies this year. Even with all of the typical action-packed offerings (X-Men: First Class, Captain America, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), funny comedies (Bridesmaids, Horrible Bosses, Midnight in Paris) and good arthouse films (Meek's Cutoff, Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, The Tree of Life), Attack the Block is by far the biggest blast of 2011. It may not win any Academy Awards, but its hilarious script, good scares and funny-cheesy gore prove that Joe Cornish has much promise as a director. It's also perfectly okay for most teens, despite the R-rating, and the Brits gave it a 15 and up. (I find that more appropriate.) When it attacks your block, SEE IT! We need more films like this!
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking