I hated not being able to make this screening last week, but luckily my contributor Eric Edwards was there to cover it. After reading his review below, my butt hurts from kicking myself.—PCN
Forget Cowboys & Aliens and Super 8. The best summer monster movie is the one you haven’t heard too much about: Attack the Block (in limited release). Writer/director Joe Cornish, who also co-wrote the upcoming The Adventures of Tintin, has combined a cast of appealing unknowns with a tight script to give audiences a witty, edge-of-your-seat movie experience.
Moses (John Boyega, in his first film) heads a gang of teenagers in a rundown South London neighborhood. The film opens with them mugging Sam (Jodie Whittaker), a female nursing student on her way home from yet another long day. Hoods are up, bandanas cover their faces and knives are wielded by this bike-riding group of young thugs. They don’t realize Sam wouldn’t be walking in their block if she wasn’t as poor as they are.
Before they can get too angry over getting so little money for their effort, something falls from the sky and crushes a parked car nearby. Instead of getting scared and running away, Moses shows why he’s the leader by deciding to strip the car. This is where his problems begin and the movie takes off.
Cornish proves a big budget isn’t needed to tell a great story. Sure, on the surface these guys are exactly the kind of punks everyone else would dismiss, but Cornish’s screenplay and direction move beyond their swagger and tough talk, turning them into the unlikely heroes we root for during the next 88 minutes.
Cornish doesn’t use special effects or melodrama to accomplish it either. In one heartbreaking scene, Sam enters Moses’s apartment, which he shares with his uncle. Moses is on his cell talking her from room to room while the alien monsters are hot on her trail. With very little dialogue, we watch Sam’s eyes as she changes her, and our, perception of Moses. Any more details would spoil this movie, but I will say the non-CGI, low-budget aliens instilled fear that lingered long after I got a good look at them.
I mentioned earlier that Cornish is one of the co-writers on the December’s Tintin movie, which Stephen Spielberg produced and directed. One would think this a tremendous learning opportunity for Cornish, but after viewing Attack the Block, I think Spielberg should be paying attention to the younger director’s work.
Photo: Liam Daniel/Screen Gems