Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway, John Boyega, Adam Leese, Joey Ansah, Flaminia Cinque, Chris Wilson, Alex Esmail, Terry Notary, Paige Meade, Lee Nicholas Harris, Jumayn Hunter, Franz Drameh, Maggie McCarthy
Written by: Joe Cornish
Directed by: Joe Cornish
MPAA Rating: R for creature violence, drug content and pervasive language
Running Time: 88
Date: 03/01/2011

Attack the Block (2011)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Streetwise Spaceout

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

UK writer/director Joe Cornish makes his feature debut after a career in television (he also co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's upcoming The Adventures of Tintin); after a series of dull, brain-dead alien invasion movies (Skyline, Battle: Los Angeles, Transformers, etc.) this one manages to be fresh, frisky and surprising. Visual effects are not crucial, or even terribly impressive, here. The focus is on the quirky character dynamic and the social ramifications therein.

While talking to her mum on her cell phone, pretty nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker, from Venus) wanders down the wrong street in South London. A group of black teens in masks -- led by Moses (John Boyega) -- mugs her, but their task is interrupted when something strange falls from the sky. It turns out to be an alien, and the teen thugs decide to find it and kill it. Unfortunately this act inspires revenge from above, and soon the neighborhood is under attack by an increasing number of angry beasties. By a strange twist of fate, Sam unexpectedly finds herself teamed up with Moses and her former muggers -- as well as a couple of oddball pot dealers -- facing off against the aliens. Can this ragtag band find a way to defeat the invaders and save the earth?

Cornish's main theme is perception: not only how humans perceive the aliens, but also how humans perceive each other. But the film's canny commentary is cleverly hidden in an onslaught of gore, sly humor, and even some good old-fashioned stoner humor. Exciting, entertaining, and rewarding, this movie has everything except a huge summer marketing campaign. Edgar Wright, the director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, co-produced.

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