While not an invasion film, “District 9″ set off a run of alien flicks to hit the theaters. Surrounded by some inferior attempts, “Attack the Block” is the best offering the genre has dropped ever since. A sci-fi action-comedy with something to say about inner city youths and their options in life, “Attack the Block” has something for everyone.
Moses and his gang of young hooligans have just heartlessly mugged a young woman when something falls out of the sky, crashing into a nearby car. As their victim escapes, Moses takes the opportunity to loot the now accessible automobile, only to come in contact with something ferocious. Chasing down and killing the creature after it scratches his face, Moses and his pals take their discovery to a safe place. While waiting for things to pan out, the kids witness a plethora of these creatures falling from the sky. Heading out to catch another one, they find themselves up against something a lot bigger and malicious than their previous find. Eventually, they bump into the woman they initially assaulted, and the two forces team up to survive these rabid aliens, as well as police forces and a crazy drug dealer who are also on their heals.
A slow start to the film takes its time flushing out the characters, but becomes an exciting, gory and intense spectacle. The exposition-filled opening leads into a fairly quick introduction to the the alien creatures, that resemble the beast in the old PC classic, “Out of This World”. It seems unlikely that a group of underage thugs who spend most of their time playing Fifa and getting high would have a chance defending their housing against an alien invasion. Make no mistake, they hold their own but the battle is not fought without casualties.
Jodie Whittaker as Sam, the young woman who is mugged at the opening of the film does a great job at gluing together the unlikely band of residents fighting for their lives. The insertion of Nick Frost’s dry humor is perfect in the few short breaks we get to see him, but the film is well carried by the group of young men who portray the saviors of the block. Specifically by John Boyega as Moses, the film’s toughest, stoic and to a point, feeling-less hero. He is a character with tremendous growth who shows it with hardly any physical or emotional surface change (with one slight exception).
The major obstacle for the film is trying to get the audience to stand behind a protagonist that is obviously on his way to becoming a career criminal. The actions of Moses in the immediate opening of the film are enough to turn any viewer off from liking him and his pals. Amidst these characters, the comedy and the sci-fi, the film is trying to say something. Forced into situations where a youth feels trapped since birth, with nowhere to go besides the streets and nothing to do but sell drugs; that is what they will do. Give them the opportunity to prove themselves and use their skills to help others and they will shine. Waiting for someone or something to just show up and give them an opportunity is not enough, other people have to step in. Really, it’s a message that has been delivered time and time again, but being set in a sci-fi fantasy, breathes new life into the film’s message, and makes for a successful result.