Everyone knows box office numbers and billboard placement don't great movies make, and sometimes you need a little time to sort through the noise to find the gems. We're pretty confident that when the glowing green dust settles in a year or so, "Attack the Block" will be hailed as one of the best summer movies of 2011...that no one saw.
A caustic antidote to the saccharine "Super 8," "Block" starts off with a similar premise: Aliens invade, and kids have to take to lead when things start going pear-shaped. But that's where the similarities end. Where the "Super 8" kids were fresh-faced, aw shucks, Middle American tykes, the "Attack the Block" crew are hoodie-wearing petty crooks terrorizing the London equivalent of the projects (their introductory scene involves them mugging a young woman).
"Block's" biggest accomplishment, however, is making you not only start to like these foul-mouthed hood rats, but eventually root for them as growling, ferocious fur-covered monsters start tearing up the joint. And make no mistake, as funny as the movie is, there are also real consequences to the action, a lot of blood shed, and many, many casualties. If J.J. Abrams was re-watching vintage Spielberg to get in the right wide-eyed mood for "Super 8", then "Block" director Joe Cornish (a screenwriter making his feature film directorial debut) most definitely dove into John Carpenter ('The Thing," "Escape from New York") and Walter HIll ("The Warriors").
The casual viewer may be put off by the, at times, unintelligible dialogue (lots of slang, thick accents, and motor-mouthed delivery combine at times to confusing effect) but once you get used to the rhythm of their dialect, it all starts to clear up - and Cornish knows when to dial it down to make sure the better lines stick (Like when one of the boys suggests they have to "get all" the aliens, another quips, "They ain't Pokemon, bruv.")
"Block" is also a master class in pacing. The movie starts off running and never slows down, keeping you jumping and hustling alongside the kids with barely a break. And Cornish keeps their legs moving by refusing to bludgeon the audience with the larger points he's making about inner city youth - you get bits of information here and there, and you're able to string together the point on your own.
Dark, thrilling, scary, violent, and frequently hilarious, "Attack the Block" is playing in limited release but do yourself a favor and seek it out. You won't regret it, bruv.