Attack the Block is as good as you’d hoped

Wednesday March 16th 2011


Two weeks ago I went to the first screening (FIRST! FIRST! FIRST! I WAS FIRST! ME!) of Joe Cornish’s ten-years-in-the-making directorial debut Attack the Block. [Obligatory sentence about Joe Cornish being part of Adam and Joe. See also: Richard Ayoade plays Moss on The IT Crowd.]

The film was supposed to be embargoed until after its world premiere at SXSW but as ever, Jason Solomons from The Observer decided the rules didn’t apply to him and tweeted up a storm later that day. Optimum then re-tweeted his comments and soon everyone was doing it. I’m not saying the people at Optimum are hypocrites but they are MASSIVE HYPOCRITES (still luvz ya guyz).

Anyway, luckily for all involved, Attack the Block is rightfully getting props across the critical board both here and over in trendy Austin comma Texas. It’ll come as a massive relief to everyone who’s been overly-excited about this movie since it was announced way back in October 2009, and especially to any magazines that have dedicated an entire issue to it before viewing, despite being stung in the past…

First and foremost, Attack the Block is a properly cinematic film unlike anything the British film industry has produced in recent memory. Structurally, it’s incredibly tight, lacking a single scene or character that doesn’t feel integral to the central narrative. In this sense, it’s reminiscent of the 80s American genre movies that inspired it, but at no point does it cross over into homage and that does it a million favours. Equally, if you’re after a ZOINKS! IMAGINE IF ALIENS LANDED IN A COUNCIL ESTATE! THINK OF ALL THE THE UNLIKELY SCENARIOS! kind of movie, then prepare to be disappointed. Attack the Block‘s central premise is so convincing that it feels more like the first alien invasion movie than the pointless collection of cine-literate nods and genre subversions that so many of its contemporaries have become.

The central cast of unknown teens make light work of the antagonist/protagonist reversal required of them, even if the film occasionally hammers home the ‘good kids after all’ message a little too hard. Elsewhere, it’s nice to see obligatory posh-boy-in-the-hood Luke Treadaway made into a significant character rather than just a figure of fun or a ‘relatable figure’ for the middle class portions of the audience. It’s a world away from the played-for-LOLs sexual assault that befalls the clueless posh couple in Adulthood.

I won’t say too much more about it for now because inevitably we’re going to have to get excited all over again come May, but two final doffs of the proverbial cap should go to cinematographer Tom Townend and composers Steven Price and Basement Jaxx, who steadfastly refuse to accept that they’re working on a British film in 2011 and instead make Attack the Block one of the year’s most dynamic, stunning and timeless blockbusters.