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Attack the Block
Reviewed by Nancy Guthrie, © 2011

Format: Movie
By:   Joe Cornish (writer, director)
Genre:   Sci-fi comedy
Review Date:   October 21, 2011

"You're better off calling the Ghostbusters, love." -- Pest

From the people who brought us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and directed by Joe Cornish, Attack the Block is a perfect blend of science fiction, comedy and social commentary, and just plain fun. It begins with a mugging.

(Check out the RevolutionSF reviews of Shaun of the Dead Hot Fuzz.)

Sam, a nurse is mugged by a gang of young toughs on the streets of London: the dodgy end. During the mugging, something flashes across the sky and crashes into a car, giving Sam the chance to escape.

The youngsters see it as nothing more than a perfect opportunity to burgle the vehicle. Something inside the car shoves past their leader Moses and skitters away.

The gang corners the creature in a shed and kills it. Moses emerges from the shed triumphant, the creature’s body on the end of a stick, like a warrior’s trophy. Convinced that the local drug dealer, a big fan of the Science Channel, will want to pay for such an interesting specimen, the boys take the alien critter home to a forlorn high rise they call "the block."

On the way home, they stop to impress a few girls. Nothing says impressive like a dead alien on a stick.

That’s when the stars begin to fall. The boys go out and grab more alien creatures. The young toughs grab weapons: baseball bats, a samurai sword, a short machete as each stops on his floor, makes excuses to family, and runs out to join his friends. We begin to see they are more than just thugs.

Only Moses and his former mugging victim survive an alien attack. It’s a bonding moment. Everyone has to work together to make it back to safety. Strangely, the drug dealer doesn’t believe excuses about alien invasions.

So begins the battle for the block. The creatures attacking the neighborhood are black, faceless monsters with enormous mouths and glowing blue teeth. No big budget special effects here, but the aliens are suitably terrifying all the same.

The acting, as with a lot of British productions, is so much better than it has to be.

Especially that of young John Boyega, who plays Moses, as well as Alex Esmail, who plays Pest and Leeon Jones as Jerome. While Nick Frost is nominally in the movie as Ron, the 19th floor pot grower, the young actors playing the gang members are the real stars.

The movie is funny, moving, and cheeky. It works on every level. I give it four and a half marijuana leaves out of five.

When Attack of the Block comes your way, make a point of seeing it.

Special mention has to be made of Mayhem and Probs, who almost steal the movie. The future of the block is in safe hands.

For how to buy it and see it, go to the official Attack the Block site.

Nancy Guthrie discovered a species hitherto unknown to science, and kicked its head in.

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