Tuesday, 16 August 2011
FILM REVIEW: Attack The Block
I was reluctant to go and see Attack The Block when it came out as I was pretty sure it wouldn't be my kind of thing. And having now seen it at Movie Con - I uphold that conclusion.
The only reason I saw it was because of the crazy booking system at the event, and how sessions overlapped with other sessions and we didn't get our first choice of the secret screening (which is a shame as it would have been Drive) so we took whatever else was on. And this showing came with a Q&A from director Joe Cornish (of Adam and Joe fame) and the cast, so if you're going to see something you're not uber sure about, you might as well go with a whole lot of freebies thrown in.
I'm not really one for alien movies anyway (she says, then going off to watch Cowboys and Aliens immediately after) and the setting - a council estate in South London - didn't really appeal to me either. Film for me is about escapism and storytelling, and there's nothing appealing to me about a characterless concrete block of flats. I don't really see a lot of laughs in urban 'street' culture and 'Trust; Believe; Bruv' slanguage; nor do I get excited about watching black furry aliens or Nick Frost sat around in a tracksuit smoking weed. So I wasn't setting myself up for an enjoyable experience.
The first half of the film was very trying: samey and dull as the group of teenage boys ("hoodies") wander around after mugging a young woman (Jody Whittaker) and then killing a 'creature' that falls from the sky and taking it back to their mate's house as a trophy. Then they become the target of the pissed off and faramone hungry species, who start dropping from the sky and chasing them with their glow in the dark gnashers. It gets steadily more interesting after that, especially when they are confined to the block of flats, and have to befriend other people - including their mugging victim so we can get the redemption arc flowing - for help. The smoke engulfed corridor sequence was probably my favourite - well executed and thought through, and it's interesting Cornish chose to kill of one of his 'heroes'. The second half of the film is definitely stronger, and funnier for it too.
The script to give its kudos (also written by Cornish) is authentic, on the ball and funny, whilst also offering up questions and nods towards real society with the boys' stifled and/or neglected home lives. The cast of unknown kids are also well plucked out, and deliver their lines with an oldhand assurance and confidence, especially the two youngsters Probs and Mayhem. I do have to question what the point of Nick Frost was however - just to have a big name in there to draw the crowds?
It's an interesting concept for a plot, and Cornish has done brilliantly well to see his vision all the way through to the big screen, where it has in turn, done extraordinarily well and should see him set up a busy career from here. Die Hard 5 has been mentioned, but if this is the kind of original thinking he can come up with I hope he steers away from an adaptation or a sequel, and taps out another idea from his imagination bank.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Q&A session afterwards though, and that's what made it worth going to see in the end. Someone even asked if there were any more plans for the Adam and Joe Show on TV to which he replied, "but we haven't made any since 2001! Won't all our viewers be dead by now?" Keep making the films, Joe: Attack the Block didn't strike a chord with me, but one of them eventually will.