If we have seen one alien invasion movie then we have seen them all right? Wrong. Attack the Block brings a new wave of energy to the sci-fi genre. Director/writer Joe Cornish shows his respect for the genre but isn’t afraid to shake it up a little either. It has a lot of oomph with some surprises that make it a joy to watch. Attack the Block is exciting, witty, and terrifying at times.
Unlike any sci-fi alien movie ever made, this one takes place in South London in the ghetto. The movie opens up with a nurse (Jodie Whittaker) getting robbed by a teen gang led by their fearless leader Moses (John Boyega). But during it, an alien comes crashing through a car right next to them. The gang chases it down and kills it, and drags it through the street in hope of cashing in on a creature from Outer Space. That was their first mistake. They should have left whatever it was alone.
Through their journey of trying to survive the alien invasion, the teens in the gang begin to show who they are behind those masks and dark hoodies. They show some remorse and are able to use the resources they have around them that they probably never even knew about until now. The character of Moses really takes charge once the defending of their block starts. Boyega shines playing a troublemaker who seems to be going nowhere. But we watch him become a man and a hero by the time it is all said and done. You simply cannot ignore the terrifically commanding performance by Boyega. Almost everyone in the movie are unknown actors (which is almost a benefit), but I can almost guarantee you will be seeing Boyega more and more in the future.
Cornish does so much with so little, and that is the beauty of Attack the Block. He uses special effects wisely without overdoing it. He also doesn’t get crazy with his aliens. The look of these monsters have nothing to do with size and stomping around while blowing up cities. They are dark and blend in with the shadows of the London streets. They can really only be seen by the luminescent light that comes from their fangs. And while they look small, they are vicious and destructive, and out of this world climbers.
The plot just isn’t about aliens trying to take over the mean streets of London. There are social issues in this sci-fi story that keeps it grounded. This invasion is local, not national or international. So Moses and the rest of gang feel they will be left for dead. No one will care and they will be forgotten because of where they live. This is why Attack the Block is more than meets the eye. It is in a genre that we are very familiar with, but it exceeds all expectations. This movie is a wild-ride and contains an exceptional balance of thrills and laughs. It is an excellent sci-fi refresher.