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80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aliens in the Hood - Where E.T. has teeth and the kids on bikes have knives
I have to say that Attack The Block - written and directed by Joe Cornish - is a pleasant surprise on a number of levels. Given the premise, this could easily have been just another cliched alien invasion movie, but believe me, it is most definitely not. Two things immediately make Attack The Block a cut above any of the myriad films of that overworked genre: 1) As the...
Published on September 24, 2011 by Whitt Patrick Pond

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Attack the Block!!!!
As quirky a horror movie you're gonna find, it has blood & mayhem, laughs and gasps.
Nick Frost(Shaun of the Dead) is brilliant, you can definitely see the influence of the Edger Wright movies in here, (Wright was also a producer)...there's also a scene reminiscent of the first Die Hard movie...it's a kicker.

Kids with weapons on bikes and scooters, aliens...
Published on October 31, 2011 by Allen Franceschi


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80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aliens in the Hood - Where E.T. has teeth and the kids on bikes have knives, September 24, 2011
By 
This review is from: Attack the Block (DVD)
I have to say that Attack The Block - written and directed by Joe Cornish - is a pleasant surprise on a number of levels. Given the premise, this could easily have been just another cliched alien invasion movie, but believe me, it is most definitely not. Two things immediately make Attack The Block a cut above any of the myriad films of that overworked genre: 1) As the writer, Cornish actually put a lot of thought into the script that makes this film fresh and imaginative, and (2) as director, Cornish was willing to take chances with his characters not being the usual earnestly cute 'safe' kids from American suburbia.

The basic situation behind Attack The Block is that, for some reason, alien beings are suddenly landing (crashing actually) in one of the seedier parts of London and are converging on one particular 'council block' (what here in the states would generally be referred to as a low-income housing project). The council block in question is home for a street gang of young hoodies who make up most of the main characters in the film, and the situation quickly evolves into a fight for survival as the kids in the gang try to evade or kill the aliens attacking their block who increasingly seem to be coming after them in particular.

When it comes to the aliens, Cornish successfully avoids a number of cliches. These aliens aren't cute and curious, and they aren't invading super-soldiers armed with superior technology. They're not here to make contact, they're not here to study us, and they're not here to take over the world. They aren't even sentient, but they are here for a reason, and I guarantee you'll never have seen this in any other movie that's come before; a quite notable achievement on Cornish's part.

The physical conception of the aliens is also quite fresh. I don't want to give away anything, but Cornish does a great job of going fairly low-tech here, relying on older traditions involving physical costuming, lighting and prosthetics rather than CGI imagineering, and again, putting some actual thought into his aliens, coming up with something that isn't a retread. One detail I can giveaway I suppose: the aliens' teeth _glow_, a bright, gleaming fluorescent maw of myriad icy blue fangs that becomes a really cool effect, especially when you see them coming after you.

And when it comes to the kids, Spielberg this is not. These kids have hard edges: they're a gang of young hoodies who swear and smoke pot; they deal, threaten and steal. The film definitely veers from the safe when it starts right off with the kids mugging a nurse! It says something though that Cornish can set things up so that while it's clear that these aren't your typical clean safe suburbanite youngsters, he gradually fleshes them out into whole complex characters who can by empathized with if not exactly approved of. Little glimpses here and there remind us that for all their hard edges and their street tough bravado and swagger, they are still just kids.

The cast of mostly young unknowns is terrific. John Boyega as Moses, the gang leader, is a natural, giving a layered performance, often with little more than a wordless look, that gradually brings out just how complicated his character really is. Alex Esmail's Pest is quite engaging, alternating between being a mouthy little tough one moment and showing surprising frankness and vulnerability the next. And, after he gets chewed on by one of the creatures, being cheeky enough to hit on Jodie Whittaker's nurse as she's tending to his leg. Another great scene gives the girls in the block their due when the boys retreat to their flat and are taken down several pegs by Danielle Vitalis' feisty Tia and her cohorts who openly wonder what stupid stunt the boys have pulled this time to get into trouble. And who end up showing what they're made of when the creatures attack their place.

I particularly liked the sub-plot around two pre-teen baby-thug wannabees, played to the hilt by Sammy Williams and Michael Ajao, who keep trying to join up with the older boys - insisting on being called Probs and Mayhem - but who keep getting told by Moses and the others to bugger off and go home. At one point the exasperated Probs chides his pint-sized cohort "No one is going to call you Mayhem if you keep acting like such a pussy!"

The dialogue is quite well done, though as you'd expect, the setting means that there's a fair amount of British working-class accent involved, and the London hoodie slang the kids use in abundance in particular takes a bit of getting used to. But it's quite effective in making the characters feel authentic and believable as a bunch of streetwise kids in their bizarre situation.

About the only actor familiar to American audiences would be Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Paul) as Ron, the block's amiably laid-back pot grower who happens to have the most secure room in the building. The other adult actors are mostly from British TV and not really known here in the US. Jodie Whittaker is excellent as Sam, the nurse who, after having been one of the gang's victims, ends up having to ally with them for survival. As one of the gang urgently tells her, "There's worse things out there to be scared of than us tonight. Trust!" Luke Treadaway is subtly comic as Brewis, one of Ron's regular customers whose bumbling attempts to fit in with the hoodies earns him their derision but who nonetheless stumbles on the reason behind why the aliens are coming after them. And Jumayn Hunter is perfect as Hi-Hatz, the block's big-league gangster the hoodies only aspire to be.

But a lot of what makes Attack The Block work is Cornish's deft hand as director and writer. The pacing is fast-paced and perfect, balancing peril with humor and action with character development so that there's never a point where the film drags or jars. And the balance of ingenuity and folly on the characters' parts makes them all the more believable in the situation that they're in.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes a good scifi/horror action movie that's more than just a rehash of things that were done to death long ago.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Horrid hoodie fun!, September 24, 2011
This review is from: Attack the Block (DVD)
A while ago, I had the idea of setting a zombie story in a council block, because the idea of what a bunch of hoodies would do in the event of a zombattack amused me. Joe Cornish, I'm trifle cross with you, eavesdropping on my thought-waves like that. Not cool, man, not cool.

Anyway, yes, this delivers. Now, listen - this isn't a comedy horror a la Shaun. I say that because for it to be so, I'd expect the lead to be a comic creation. Moses is not. He's a sad but hopeful comment on our times, and he doesn't do or say anything remotely funny. Nor is the female lead a comedy part. It is left to the others around them to carry the comic load. I'd say, then, this is horror-thriller FUN rather than horror comedy. If you accept that, you won't be disappointed.

The dialogue zips along as an entity of its own. It's hoodie-speak. 'Merk' for kill, 'Allow it' for 'leave it', etc. I'm very glad the US viewers were able to get along with this, because I think it's a huge part of the ethos of the film. These guys live in their own world with their own rules and language is not only a reflection of that but a large part of setting the film apart from that's out there. I mean 'Oh, my days!' instead of the ubiquitous, 'Oh, my God!' is just such a fresh relief (familiar to those of us who are around working-class black kids, but refreshing to hear in a horror film)!

So there you are, in a different world, and in the opening scene, these kids mug a nurse at knife-point. The writer and director would really have to bring it to turn this around so we care about the kids, was my thought. Then the aliens arrive in a meteor-like landing camouflaged by its being Bonfire Night. Usually, the kids would be the first victims and the nurse would escape to warn her neighbours and the battle would begin with her. Lovely to have this turned on its head. The hoodies are the perfect army for this battle, being fearless (mostly), territorial, loyal, used to conflict and not given to huge amounts of philosophical musings. Come on, that's not the perfect squaddie?

Everyone loves the line where one of the kids says, 'This is too much madness for one text'. I personally hooted when the girl (Paige Meade) opens the door to the flat and mouths off why she ain't letting them in, yeah, a long litany of reasons, delivered with facety, teeth-kissing bossiness (US viewers, think ghetto finger-waving). Then the other girl comes to the door and says it's her flat and they can come in.

The non-hoodies are a solid bunch of characters, and I salute Cornish for not making the stoners too out of it, because we've seen enough of that 'woah-dude-ness', thank you. I would say that the nurse is a bit too posh, but not fatally so. I loved the posh stoner listening to his out-of-date reggaae ("Skengeh-skengeh!"). The monsters are good enough, giving great death and mayhem, though like many movie-monsters, they are scarier the less you see of them. The ref to Night of the Living Dead, where Moses emerges from the lift, covered in blood, and the police swoop on him - fantastic. John Boyega is especially impressive as Moses, and he and Cornish do indeed manage to turn us around in our opinion of him. I truly hope British producers don't waste Boyega, as they waste so many black actors who then defect to the US.

There are so many little gems in this movie. The big man on the block who refuses to get with the fact that he's been usurped as the baddest threat tonight (it's behiiiiiiind you!); the kid going inside to tell a casual lie to his nan before heading out alien-hunting; the revelation of Moses's 'secret' that nearly had me tearing-up.

The young actors are wonderful; the adult actors sure-footed at their craft (the posh stoner is one of the up-and-coming Treadaway brothers, Jodie Whittaker, getting her horror chops, was a stand-out in the lovely 'Marchlands' and we know about Nick Frost).

This is a horror thriller for our times; our knowing, tough, lean-and-mean times. And it is a treat.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attack the Blockbuster, October 3, 2011
By 
Comedian Joe Cornish's debut film is a fun, inventive and highly original creature feature with a serious social message at its heart. The theme of Alien domination of Earth has been done to death in recent years, typically with massively overblown CGI effects, but Cornish's British low-budget debut takes a very different approach from the Hollywood blockbuster, localising the alien attack to one grimy tower block of a South London council estate.

A gang of South London hoodies mug nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) on bonfire night as she returns home from her shift, but are interrupted when an object crashes into a nearby parked car. Gang-leader Moses is attacked and bitten by a creature hiding within and, enraged, pursues it to a nearby shelter to beat it to death, while Sam takes the opportunity to escape. The gang agree that that the creature must be from outer space ("that's a alien bruv, believe!"), and parade the corpse through the streets like a trophy, returning to the hang-out of resident drug-dealer and horticulturalist Ron (played by a long-haired, shell-suit wearing Nick Frost). However, it is not long before much larger, more aggressive beasts begin to fall from the sky, drawn to the tower block where Moses and his friends reside. Later in the film, Cornish offers up a very sound biological explanation for the invasion, rather than avoiding the issue like most brainless blockbusters.

Sam is left justifiably shaken, shocked and angry at her attack, but eventually comes to rely on her assailants as her protectors as they face up to responsibility; a mutual respect developing between them. One character early on describes the kids as `***king monsters'. Indeed they are, to begin with at any rate. This leftfield (though hardly new) approach seems to have irked some viewers who clearly like their heroes to be whiter then white - as though life was that simple; as though the line between good and evil was so well defined. Cornish's well-made and optimistic point is that nobody is beyond redemption. In Attack the Block there is no glorification of the street violence that has become so relevant in the UK today, nor is there a patronising moral; only the central message that actions have consequences. Cornish is also careful to remind us throughout that despite everything our protagonists are, after all, still only children.

The young unknown cast is excellent; fresh and natural, and particularly the performance of John Boyega, thoroughly believable as villain turned hero, Moses. There are no terrible fake accents either - Cornish uses local kids as his protagonists, using local lingo.

Comparisons with Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead are inevitable, but unwarranted; they're quite different films. The characters in ATB are not comedic ones, and though the film has been made with plenty of wit and humour it is in fact at times a quite serious horror-thriller. Cornish is not scared to despatch some of his young actors to let us know he means business. In some ways it reminds me more of the early films of John Carpenter, which is no mean compliment. The film is full of neat touches and tips its hat to other sci-fi and cult films. The kids themselves live in `Wyndham House', a reference to the author of the classic novel `Day of the Triffids', and watch out for some nods to Spielberg's E.T, among others.

Cornish wrings absolutely everything from his £9 million budget, and is to be applauded for his creativity. Perhaps the climax could have benefitted from the extravagance that a few extra million pounds could bring, but it doesn't matter because part of ATB's charm is its small scale. The creatures themselves are extremely effective; jet black shadows with the majority of emphasis on rows of razor sharp teeth, luminous in the dark, where most of the action takes place. There's very little CGI; the creatures and their movements are actually mostly portrayed by a man in a suit. ATB's pacing is also spot-on, with a series of exhilarating action scenes and chase sequences, and at times it's heart-pounding stuff, aided by a thumping soundtrack by Steven Price and Basement Jaxx.

The blu-ray quality in terms of both picture and audio is superb, and there are some fine extras on the disc too, including a very interesting featurette on the how the aliens were designed, created and filmed.

Though not quite perfect, and undoubtedly not to everybody's taste, this is a thoroughly excellent genre film, bursting with energy and creativity, and for me a solid 9/10. I loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I Missed The Class On Alien Bite Wounds" ~ Protecting Your Turf Against Extra-Terrestials, December 28, 2011
This review is from: Attack the Block (DVD)
Have you ever come across a movie that you've never heard of, starring nobody you've ever seen, with a plot that sounds like it would never work? Well if you haven't before, you have now. The 2011 low budget sci-fi, horror film 'Attack the Block' will surprise you at every turn. You'll start out hating the main characters, a bunch of arrogant teenage thugs terrorizing the streets of a rundown south London neighborhood, but when a bunch of hairy apelike aliens with florescent fangs land in the area you'll find yourself quickly won over by their courage and bravado. When these guys talk about protecting the block they mean it.

While the cast is, as already mentioned a group of newcomers, they do a commendable job making this rather outlandish plot come across as believable and exciting. The lead role of Moses is played by a young Denzel Washington look-a-like named John Boyega who turned out to be impressive in a rather understated way. Boyegas' slow transformation from unlikeable hoodlum to intelligent anti-hero is wonderfully subtle and supplies an excellent counterbalance to the fast paced, helter skelter plot and action sequences. Definitely a surprising little film with an absolutely killer ending. I have a strong feeling this one will become a cult classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Attack the Block!!!!, October 31, 2011
This review is from: Attack the Block (DVD)
As quirky a horror movie you're gonna find, it has blood & mayhem, laughs and gasps.
Nick Frost(Shaun of the Dead) is brilliant, you can definitely see the influence of the Edger Wright movies in here, (Wright was also a producer)...there's also a scene reminiscent of the first Die Hard movie...it's a kicker.

Kids with weapons on bikes and scooters, aliens who look like they walked out of a Tom Baker episode of Dr.Who, the anti-hero, Moses and a load of dangerous and funny blokes.
Not the funniest movie out there, but it is full of dark humour,if you like(d) Edger Wright's movies, you'll enjoy this movie
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic movie, a must-see if you like The Cornetto Trillogy, June 3, 2014
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Loved this movie, for the stylistic-ness, the dark humor that these directors so enjoy. Excellent acting from the cast, and love the monster design, which was NOT ENTIRELY CG and does wonders for actually feeling visceral. Also appreciated the socially aware undertones. A brilliant watch, I highly recommend
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contrary to reviews, this is..., January 6, 2012
By 
a really good movie. I'd have given it three-and-a-half, but Amazon doesn't ALLOW IT. One of the one-star reviews says the plot is pointless. Really? That's silly, because the whole plot is about a gang trying to protect their block against an alien invasion. One of my favorite characters was Pest (his granny magnet shirt was funny), and I liked the two younger boys as well. Maybe the reason people didn't like this movie is because it's not the typical American alien film where there are explosions every two seconds and the aliens all look the same. I guess some people don't like change...
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it a lot!, November 8, 2011
By 
Mac McIlmoil "Mac McIlmoil" (Jacksonville Beach, Florida) - See all my reviews
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I thoroughly enjoyed this film start to finish. Easily the best low budget sci-fi horror comedy film I've ever watched.

As absurd as it looks on the surface, it quickly takes on a sense of believability as the very solid characters are introduced. They are three dimensional and evolve in the course of the film.

The neighborhood seems real, gritty and violent. The bad guys who become heroic are actually bad, not misunderstood.

The creatures are oddly believable, well designed and reasonably motivated. They are animals behaving like animals and able to die like animals, not super human aliens or zombies. Terry Notary (choreographer, movement coach: creature movement, etc.), who has been involved with many big budget movies, injects and extra degree of reality to these shark mouth, wolfy gorilla looking predators. Love the teeth.

The film is nicely spiced with a little social commentary, satire, stoner comedy, neighborhood dynamics and lots of fun.

For those who care, there is some gore but more often implied, as with splashes of blood from off camera.

While you may not love it like I did, you have to at least enjoy it.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Movie of 2011, October 27, 2011
This movie deserves multiple Academy Awards. I have yet to see any film that has captured the social climate in the most unique possible way. The remarks regarding police action in Britain, as well as volunteering for Red Cross in some 3rd World area just "to get a good tan" were definitely deliberate and proudly blatant. There are 3rd World conditions in Britain as well as the US. I love the interesting timing of this movie. The London Riots took place in the Councils. Just wait until the South Bronx erupts! This movie sheds light on a very serious topic the masses seem to have overlooked. Moses, the main character, is played by an "unknown" actor. This cat is more authentic that Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, or any other gangster trying to cross over into acting. This movie is brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Aliens, Hooligans, and fireworks. Whats not to like!?, June 4, 2014
I really enjoyed this movie and I think its just the sheer fun of it that got my attention. The film is violent, funny, dramatic, touching, and a must see simply put. I wondered how they managed to make a film about a British comedy/Alien action adventure work, but then again since its from the producers of Shaun of the Dead (another fantastic British comedy) I guess I should have expected to like this film as well. What makes it even more impressive is that this was Director Joe Cornish's debut film! A feat that deserves respect for what he and everyone else managed to do for this movie.

A friend of mine actually saw this movie before I did and he insisted I check it out since I am a fan of action comedies. I took it home and held off for a while to be honest in checking it out. When I finally did and started watching it I was stunned to see just how much time had passed and before I knew it the film had ended. If you are trying to find something new to see and just wanna laugh at the same time as enjoy a rollicking roller coaster, this is the film for you!

Attack the Block is about a group of young teenagers in London who (surprisingly) are on the front lines of an alien invasion that just happen to center on the apartment complex (the Block) that they live in. Fighting for their lives they must battle up and down almost ever floor, all the while trying to figure out what their enemy is exactly and why they are attacking them.

The characters are all well done, believable, and ones that you can relate to, which really matter in a film. They have their strength and weaknesses each, but they band together to fight the invaders, all of it inspirational. What I really enjoyed about the film is the fast paced style; the action picks up rather quickly and it isn't long before you are caught up in the story. Though it is violent and action packed the film also does offer enough sensitivity to root of the characters and each of their motivations.

Bottom line, this film is excellent. If you enjoy the British comedies; Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, At World's End or other action adventure comedies, please check this one out! You won't regret it, theres a reason it has such a high score on Rotten Tomatoes; people love this film! So go and check it out, I hope you enjoy it!
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Attack the Block
Attack the Block by Joe Cornish (DVD - 2011)
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