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A teen gang who live in a housing estate block of flats in South London defend their block from an alien invasion.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Joe Cornish makes his feature film directing debut with Attack the Block, which he also wrote, officially a sci-fi comedy - but unofficially not funny enough to be a double barreled genre film. A promising spoof 1950s music cue at the start gives the impression that we're in for things from outer space in tone, but this quickly dissolves to leave us with a more mundane style.

While teenagers in a working class London suburb mug a young woman (Jodie Whittaker) a nearby car is smashed from above. As the young crims try to loot the damaged car, something sinister attacks them. The difficulty Cornish has is to manage the film's tone from here on, as it runs away from him in a kind of bipolar disorder fashion.

The alien monsters have one imaginative feature: it's not their eyes that glow a scary blue, but their mouthful of angry, hungry teeth. The young gang, led by Moses - a terrific minimalist performance from John Boyega - finds itself under consistent attack from these hairy beasts, a cross between a gorilla and a man in an ape suit. But not in a good, funny way. (Terry Notary wears the creature suit.)

As the various chase scenes chase each other, our small group of very petty crims have to join forces with the woman they mugged, Sam (Jodie Whittaker) because as a nurse she can help bandage one of their damaged limbs. Sam in fact turns into a useful ally, and she is also the conduit for the film's redemptive theme.

Coming so soon after the infamous London riots of mid-2011, the scenario has gained more relevance and at least the sci-fi aspect is well constructed, with the alien attack given a plausible rationale - at least in terms of the film's own logic.

I suspect many in the audience would prefer subtitles for many of the dialogue scenes, rather than have to strain to understand the heavy accents of London's mean streets. But there isn't that much lost, since the story unfolds visually for the most part, and the body language is enough to keep us informed. It just doesn't quite meet expectations for a movie that has an interesting premise.

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(UK, 2011)

CAST: Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Luke Treadaway, Nick Frost, Terry Notary, Jumayn Hunter, Leeon Jones

PRODUCER: Nira Park, James Wilson

DIRECTOR: Joe Cornish

SCRIPT: Joe Cornish


EDITOR: Jonathan Amos

MUSIC: Steven Price


RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 1, 2011

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