dvd review – ATTACK THE BLOCK

Writer-director Joe Cornish has made the best John Carpenter movie since John Carpenter made great movies. Cornish’s debut feature, Attack the Block, conjures memories of Carpenter when he was on top of his game with an impressive list of genre movies that includes Assault on Precinct 13, Escape from New York, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China. Set in South London, ATB finds a gang of hardened teenage criminals becoming neighborhood heroes when their apartment block is swarmed by deadly extra terrestrials. Led by the steely-eyed Moses (John Boyega), the gang is mostly black, making the heroes of Attack the Block the most unlikely to save the day since the forgotten blaxploitation classic Together Brothers. But much of what makes the film work is Moses and his gang, a motley assortment of thugs played by a cast of unknowns, who are simultaneously tough and funny, exuding equal parts two-fisted badassness and adolescent awkwardness. This is easily one of the most compelling groups of teenage boys to come along in quite some time, and far more interesting than the kids in Super 8. As Moses and his crew square off against the deadly creatures that are terrorizing the block, Cornish keeps the film moving at a rapid pace, while finding just the right balance of humor. His direction is as assured as his writing, and Cornish’s decision to cast his film with heroes you’re not likely to see in any other movie is the added ingredient that gives Attack the Block its heart and soul. Along with John Carpenter, Cornish seems to be most influenced by Edgar Wright, whose genre-blending films like Shaun of the Dead have found the perfect creepy-to-comedy ratio. And like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Wright’s under-appreciated Scott Pilgrim, Attack the Blockis a highly entertaining film that holds up to multiple viewings.

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