Review – Attack the Block

2011 hasn’t been the best year for alien invasion films. ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ was mindless military porn, ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ was disappointing and ‘Green Lantern’ kind of classifies as alien invasion flick, and gets a T for terrible. The good news is the genre gets a healthy kick up the backside with ‘Attack the Block’.

A group of teenagers living in public housing flats in South London, AKA ‘the block’, discover a strange creature while out patrolling their neighborhood as a gang. Soon, they discover the creature is one of many and they aren’t friendly.

Truly great films transcend their genre and mix the best of all genres together. ‘Attack the Block’ is a nutty mix of action, science fiction and comedy. Writer/director Joe Cornish is the mad scientist blending it all together in spectacular style. The action sequences are thrilling and suspenseful, the dialogue is witty and the sci-fi is never overdone.

The young cast of mostly unknown actors perfectly represents a real street gang. After the recent events of the London riots it’s easy to hate these characters, but the performances allow them to evolve from street thugs into heroes that you want to cheer for. There is a nice appearance from Nick Frost in a small role and Jodie Whittaker bridges the gap between the teens and the adults well.

Wobbly, half-baked special effects have let down a lot of the alien creatures inhabiting films this year, for example, the giant rubber mutant frogs in ‘Cowboys and Aliens’. With a relatively low budget, ‘Attack the Block’ has managed to think creatively and not overdo it with their alien effects. The anime looking aliens are a real treat and are used sparingly throughout the film. They’re kept in the shadows for a majority of the time and your imagination runs wild with the possibilities – Cornish has studied ‘Alien’ and ‘Predator’ well.

The pulsing score by Steven Price mixes digital beats with urban grooves as the extra-terrestrials clash with street toughs, adding to the excitement.

‘Attack the Block’ is slightly tarnished by the London riots and it’s understandable why people may not get on board with the main characters. There is so much to enjoy that I can guarantee that any bad sentiments will evaporate quickly.

The biggest criticism against ‘Attack the Block’ is its delayed release in Australia. It’s easy to obtain a copy on DVD from the UK or America, but it’s best discovered on the big screen. No doubt the Hollywood studios will try and recreated the cult success of ‘Attack the Block’, so catch it before the inevitable ‘Attack the Projects’ is released with Taylor Lautner and Zac Efron.


‘Attack the Block’ opens in Australia on 1 December.


The Popcorn Junkie