If I had to summarize Attack the Block in one word, that word would be: unique. It seems like a crazy idea, mixing the conventions of social realism dramas based in the rough ends of London, with a comedic sci-fi horror movie. But Attack the Block does it so well, it seems like the two drastically different genres should fit perfectly together. What starts off looking like the typical, gritty drama about a gang of youths in a London council estate, quickly becomes a deadly, yet comedic fight for survival against extra-terrestrial forces. The teenage stereotype of hoodies with baseball bats and switchblades is not only exaggerated, but used. The violent behaviour that modern day gangs have become associated with is shown in a new light, as it is used to repel the alien invasion.
First of all, I will warn you. Much of the banter between the main cast, a gang of youths who ride around with balaclavas and bikes (how original), will not be understood by a general audience. There is an abundance of words like “blud” and “fam”, with “wagwan” making a brief appearance later on. Anyone who enjoys modern day British drama, such as Shifty, or Channel 4’s drama series Top Boy, may have become familiar with such terms, as they too have become the typical stereotype of how teenagers talk. However, even without this knowledge, and not being able to understand what they are saying, the general subject of what they are talking about is made clear by the three other characters who make up the team. First, we have Sam. The victim of a mugging by the very same group that she later aids in their battle. Next we have Brewis. The posh boy who just wants to fit in. And finally, there's Ron. The loveable drug dealer, who doesn’t actually help out, but we love him anyway! These characters all help translate what the main cast are saying, though they do it subtly.
Unfortunately, the special effects aren’t brilliant. Whilst talented, Edgar Wright is no James Cameron, and some of the scenes and stunts look a little...amateur. This sounds harsh, but jumping a tiny gap between two walkways is made out to be an extraordinary show of heroism, but there isn’t anything particularly spectacular in the department of visuals.
As a big-screen debut for filmmaker Joe Cornish, it does get him off to a good start, but whilst there’s nothing particularly bad about the film, I also struggled to find anything (aside from the mix of genres) that made it stand out as one that I would watch multiple times. It’s interesting to see a new take on the classic ‘alien invasion’ plot, but there isn’t anything in it that really grabbed my attention or that would make it an instant classic, up there with the other greats such as Alien, or Blade Runner.
As we’ve come to expect from most films with Edgar Wright and Nick Frost in the title, the film is high on fast-paced action, gore, strong language, drug use and pretty much everything else that could be warned about in a trailer. But as always, this shouldn’t deter you from going to see the movie. It’s witty, action-packed, and at times, incredibly tense. It takes all the best bits from the various genres that it manages to span, and rolls them all into a well-paced joyride.
8/10 - Great