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Attack The Block (DVD)
Member Name: thedevilinme
Attack The Block (DVD)
Date: 28/10/11, updated on 09/11/11 (50 review reads)
Advantages: Funny and brave
Star - Nick Frost
Run Time - 88 minutes
Genre - Comedy
Country - UK
Cert - 15
So, after the brilliant 'Four Lions' comes Attack the Block, yet another brave British comedy that dares to tackle our rather negative ethnic stereotypes, this time the naughty black boys of South London getting sent up. Because these rather sensitive stereotypes are often true we are not allowed to even talk about them openly and so why not chuckle away at them on film, the peace offering here. Ricky Gervais seems to have mastered the acceptable art of telling cleverly camouflaged race, sexist and homophobic gags in a way that no one seems to complain about and so why noy a mainstream comedy having ago? As long as you're not blatant and blue-collar about the way you tackle ethnic humor then it seems acceptable.
Attack the Block isn't any of the above in a nasty way and I expect the kids it was sending up absolutely loved it, no doubt quoting lines from the film on their respective estates even tonight. Sadly, though, if a young kid is stabbed or shot in our inner cities we all whisper the same thing on who we think did it. We are usually right. But humor is the therapy on race issues and definitely the start of the solution to draw us closer together, Attack the Block having plenty of that humor and making some sort of a connection, funny to both white and black audiences alike. Let's face it guys. We haven't had any terror attacks here since Four Lions aired and so it must be working, right! Bolder still first time director Joe Cornish (yep, he of the comedy Adam & Joe) wants you to actually like and sympathize with the nasty muggers and hoodies that lurk on many street cornersby the end of his movie, people that anyone who lives in London know all about. Cornish certainly knows all about these thugs. He lived on the same London streets the film was made and was violently mugged, his inspiration for the film. Anyone who has been mugged knows it's tough to get over.
Nick Frost ... Ron
Jodie Whittaker ... Sam
John Boyega ... Moses
Luke Treadaway ... Brewis
Alex Esmail ... Pest
Paige Meade ... Dimples
Leeon Jones ... Jerome
Jumayn Hunter ...Hi Hatz
Franz Drameh as Dennis
Simon Howard as Biggz
Danielle Vitalis as Tia
Michael Ajao as Mayhem
Sammy Williams as Probs
It's the night of November 5th and pretty student nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is walking back to her grotty South London estate when she is surrounded and mugged by some hoodies. Rushing off in tears her attackers are about to pursue her when a meteor like object slams into a nearby car, 15-year-old gang leader Moses (John Boyega) confronted by an alien like creature on the front seat. Moses is territorial to the extreme and no alien is going to be allowed to upstage him on the block, chasing it down with the BMX 'boiz' and quickly slaying it.
This bravado not only raises his status in the posse but attracts an unexpected revenge from above, the block soon under attack from much bigger and nastier black fury aliens with luminous teeth, more fur and fireballs soon pinging into the estate. But its hard to convince you parents and friends of an alien invasion from the sky on bonfire night and so the boys must tool up to take back the block. As uncomfortable and ironic as it is, Sam knows she is safest with the gang that robbed her as the body count rises and the monsters cut of their escape, two coppers already consumed by the visitors and the rest of London oblivious to their plight. And there's another problem, that of local drug kingpin and gold tooth thug 'Hi Hatz' (Jumayn Hunter), who is determined to take out anyone he thinks threatens his patch and business, be it angry snarling aliens or wannbe drug dealers like Moses and his gang.
I knew this would be funny and it was, a fearless comedy that dares to tackle gang criminality in underclass Britain with both comedy barrels. Hollywood has never had any problem in sending up its racial divide and most black actors in America would have appeared as a hood or a drug dealer at some point in their careers. But in Britain filmmakers have always seemed scared to go there, regardless of the comic potential of the hilarious 'street' Jamaican patois the gangs use and the absurd posturing that goes with it. I recall Dr David Starkey had something to say on that one. One recent report even suggested young black boys find doing well at school being soft and feeble?
Although this is a comedy with no pretensions to be clever I think it is quite observant and hits a nerve or two. The director said that when he was mugged the black boys were just as scared as he was, the robbery clearly more about bravado and the boys proving themselves to the gang than for fiscal gain. Most of the deaths in London are nearly always about boys being in the wrong postcode or estate than an argument over selling drugs. This movie exudes that added pathos of just how lonely these kids are when they reject the system and that seems to add to the jokes and big set pieces. I know I'm perhaps over complicating what is essentially a hybrid of Ali G culture comedy but this film is not just another worthy lottery money tax dodge for me. Who knew Adam from Adam and Jo could make me laugh.
Cast wise the kids are great and very funny, John Boyega genuinely quite scary looking in the lead. Jo Cornish is very skilled in the way he gets us to like the gang leader. Nick Frost occasionally pops his gormless head around the door but mostly in it to attach a name to the film to get it made, Cornish returning the favor for letting him appear in the brilliant Shaun of the Dead. Jodie Whittaker is perhaps the character that doesn't quite work as the chances of a nice white middle-class student type wanting or, indeed, getting a council flat in a tower block is zero. But the director needed her to contrast poorer London with richer London in the film and so here she is, the point being white London knows little of ethnic ghetto London and so they wouldn't even know if there was an alien invasion south of the river. If ET does finally gets his phone best not wave it around here.
The pace is relentless and Cornish enjoy flipping around those wannabe gangster cool clichés and absurd chav behavior you get with boys who think they are men. It looks great for its £14 million budget and the cheesy tongue-in-cheek especial effects feeding more laughs, determined not to be serious in any way. But the biggest plus is Danny Dyer isn't in it. Sorted!
The Guardian - "This fabulously inventive debut feature, written and directed by the British comedian Joe Cornish, never flags".
The Independent - "Employs its sci-fi tale to wrestle with issues of race and class structure -- the sort of deep thought lost on Hollywood kingpins like Michael Bay, whose idea of sensitive racial exploration was to create Amos 'n' Andy robots for that Transformers flick".
The Seattle times - "Attack the Block wants us to believe that its heroes aren't all that bad . . . once you've given them your wallet.
Film4 - "Attack the Block attacks the alien invasion genre with wit, energy and a cheeky insolence that makes it out of this world".
Imdb.com - 6.8/10.0 (14,567 votes)
Metacritic.com - 75% approval rating.
Rottentomatos.com - 89% approval rating
Summary: Comedy is once again taking risks