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Attack The Block (Blu-ray Review)

Attack the Block is wholly original and entertaining, believe!  While shot on a low budget with many new and young actors, this film far exceeds similar, recent alien invasion films, due to its wonderful style and confidence one can glean from the filmmaking portrayed here.  Coming from the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Attack the Block is a wonderful blend of sci-fi, horror, action, and comedy that I can easily see as becoming a cult classic. Given that this is the film I have watched the most this year, it is safe to say that I really enjoy it.  Now everyone has the chance to check it out, as it has made its debut onto Blu-ray.

Film:

Cleverly stated by debut director Joe Cornish as, “La Haine meets Aliens,” Attack the Block, is an alien invasion story set in South London on Bonfire Night (American’s can sort of equate that to July 4th). The film follows a young street gang, led by a boy named Moses (John Boyega). The other members include Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones), and Biggz (Simon Howard). As the film begins, the gang is in the midst of mugging a woman, Sam (Jodie Whitaker), when out of nowhere, something from the sky crashes into the roof of a nearby car. Moses investigates, is scratched by what appears to be some kind of animal, and takes it upon himself to kill the beast. Proud of his kill, Moses and the rest of the gang take the carcass of this foreign creature back to a knowledgeable friend of theirs. This friend is Ron, played by Nick Frost, who deduces the creature to be an alien and helps the gang to store the dead alien within his vault-like weed room. Of course, this only leads to more problems.

The block soon comes under attack, when a much larger and more ferocious horde of aliens arrive from space, seemingly after Moses and his gang. The “block” in question refers to a multi story apartment complex, which houses primarily working class residents. This includes the parents, or whatever, of Moses and his gang, Ron (who lives in the penthouse on the top floor), and as it turns out, Sam, the women the gang mugged earlier in the night. Among other things, the film essentially becomes a siege-type sci-fi/action movie, with the aliens terrorizing the block and those in the area, as the boys try to defend their turf using teamwork and a number of makeshift weapons.

Shot on a low budget, from a first time director, with most of the lead actors making their film debut, recent films like Battle: LA and especially Skyline should take note on how to create a more engaging and entertaining experience, such as this one. Attack the Block is full of imagination and wit. Any areas that fall into the traditional tropes of the genre only serve to benefit the film due to the authentic nature of the setting and characters, in addition to the amount of cleverness that this film has in dealing with its premise. As opposed to settling into clichés that only serve to make for cool looking action, this film is a wild mash of different genres, which only serve to tell a complete story.

I have used the word “authentic” a few times, which is very appropriate, as the kids who play the members of the gang are literally kids brought in from the streets who have similar backgrounds in terms of their characters. This only serves to make the film feel, as I’ve stated, authentic, as the dialogue and slang talk is delivered more than convincingly and in proper accents (thick South London accents to be exact, which has led to the initial controversial idea of adding subtitles to the film for American audiences). Despite the fact that this is an alien invasion film, with a fairly comic book-like narrative, the way the characters act around each other keeps it pretty grounded.

Speaking more on that point, the chemistry between all of the characters is great and the use of location feels like it’s been handled by someone who’s from the area (which is another true fact). Despite mainly working in one location, the film is detailed enough to give that location an identity and establish its geography well enough to keep the audience involved with where these characters and the aliens are, as well as having fun dividing up the action.

Another well handled and crucial aspect is how solid the creature design is. Without really delving deep into what these aliens look like, suffice it to say that they have a unique look that will go down as being much more memorable than other recent alien designs. I would probably credit that do to the simplicity of the creation, which combines the use of practical effects with some CG work added on. As the characters have more and more encounters with the aliens, it does become a lot of fun watching them deal with these creatures in different ways and seeing how the film manages to handle their placement in this story.

As far as the tone and filmmaking style goes, while having Edgar Wright’s name amongst the list of producers, this film is not a specific play on other films in the same way that ‘Shaun’ or ’Fuzz’ is. Attack the Block is very much its own beast, operating on its own level that merely has past films of a similar nature as its cinematic forefathers. Due to this, the film does have a lot of fun approaching, but not quite embracing a self aware edge. The film is quite funny, mainly through the chemistry between the boys, as well as the presence of Nick Frost, but it is a little gruesome as well and does not take the situation involving ferocious aliens lightly. Joe Cornish has done a wonderful job at putting this film together, managing to keep things moving at a brisk pace, while establishing characters, effective tension and action sequences, and even managed to get the electronica group Basement Jaxx to provide an awesome soundtrack for the film.

Attack the Block is a film that you go and seek out. Amongst the sea of so many mainstream releases, Attack the Block was a great breath of fresh air. Inventive filmmaking, awesome creature designs, fun characters, and a great soundtrack. I’ve bumped my previous rating up to a perfect score, simply because it is a movie I can stand behind and not focus on whatever potential flaws it may have. It’s my Scott Pilgrim vs. The World of 2011. Great work has been done by all involved to make a very entertaining film, especially as far as genre audiences are concerned. The flick has all the fun you’d want to see for a genre rollercoaster ride, trust.

Video: 

Sony Pictures delivers another solid video presentation for one of their titles. The 1080p high definition transfer manages to bring this film to the small screen in a very pleasing way. Given that the film is set entirely at night and works with a fairly specific color palette, it is nice to see the color balance and black levels feel appropriately handled, making for a pleasing viewing experience. This could have been especially tricky when dealing with the incredibly black creatures, but it all still stands up very well. Given that this is a lower budget film that features some pretty complex effect work, it is understandable that the transfer is not perfect, but it certainly does a great job at presenting quality picture.

Audio: 

Again, Sony does justice to this film by providing the Blu-ray with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack. So many different kinds of audio elements to think about with this film. There are lots of creature noises and screams that need to register. The dialogue comes fast and frantic throughout. And the awesome soundtrack by Basement Jaxx needed to be accounted for as well. Fortunately, the sound is all great. All of these different factors come in clear, never overshadowing one another. Especially given how dialogue heavy some scenes are, it is great that the balance from quieter to much louder scenes works so well on this disc. A wonderful mix that flows oh so well in my home theater system.

Special Features: 

Happy to see this film get so much love in the extras department. There is a wealth of material here in terms of seeing how practically every aspect of this film was created. Three commentary tracks, along with multiple featurettes and its all in glorious HD.

Features Include:

Audio Commentaries (each of these are well worth it):

Junior Commentary – A track that features writer/director Joe Cornish and all of the young actors involved in the film.

Senior Commentary – A track that features Joe Cornish again, this time with the adult actors in the film

Executive Producer Commentary – A track featuring Joe Cornish and executive producer Edgar Wright, which means it is plenty entertaining and informative.

Behind the Block Documentary: An hour long documentary that goes over the entire production of the film. It is fun and incredibly comprehensive. It helps that Joe Cornish is such a fun personality, along with the young actors who are plenty excited to be involved with the film.

Creature Feature – Special Effects: A look at the creation of the incredibly creature designs in this film. Anyone who thought these creatures were CG can see how it was done here.

Meet the Gang – Cast: A look at the young actors involved in the film.

Unfilmed Action – Unfilmed Sequences from the Movie: Some stuff that was basically too expensive or complicated to film and get in the flick. Features storyboards and audio from Joe Cornish.

That’s a Rap – Fun with the Cast on Set: Some outtakes from the cast, while on set.

Trailers, Previews, BD-Live

Final Thoughts: 

I have, in no way, been quiet about my love for Attack the Block. It is a wonderfully creative film, which manages to pack a lot of fun into the span of 90 minutes by way of creative low budget filmmaking. The story is very entertaining, quite funny, and quite thrilling. The film is stylishly made and provides a great new spin on a familiar concept. The Blu-ray is equally solid, featuring a pretty good looking transfer, a great audio track, and some very worthwhile special features. You best believe I’m serious about checking this film bruv, trust.

Order Your Copy Here:

 


Cleverly stated by debut director Joe Cornish as, “La Haine meets Aliens,” Attack the Block, is an alien invasion story set in South London on Bonfire Night (American’s can sort of equate that to July 4th). The film follows a young street gang, led by a boy named Moses (John Boyega). The other members include Pest (Alex Esmail), Dennis (Franz Drameh), Jerome (Leeon Jones), and Biggz (Simon Howard). As the film begins, the gang is in the midst of mugging a woman, Sam (Jodie Whitaker), when out of nowhere, something from the sky crashes into the roof of a nearby car. Moses investigates, is scratched by what appears to be some kind of animal, and takes it upon himself to kill the beast. Proud of his kill, Moses and the rest of the gang take the carcass of this foreign creature back to a knowledgeable friend of theirs. This friend is Ron, played by Nick Frost, who deduces the creature to be an alien and helps the gang to store the dead alien within his vault-like weed room. Of course, this only leads to more problems.

The block soon comes under attack, when a much larger and more ferocious horde of aliens arrive from space, seemingly after Moses and his gang. The “block” in question refers to a multi story apartment complex, which houses primarily working class residents. This includes the parents, or whatever, of Moses and his gang, Ron (who lives in the penthouse on the top floor), and as it turns out, Sam, the women the gang mugged earlier in the night. Among other things, the film essentially becomes a siege-type sci-fi/action movie, with the aliens terrorizing the block and those in the area, as the boys try to defend their turf using teamwork and a number of makeshift weapons.

Shot on a low budget, from a first time director, with most of the lead actors making their film debut, recent films like Battle: LA and especially Skyline should take note on how to create a more engaging and entertaining experience, such as this one. Attack the Block is full of imagination and wit. Any areas that fall into the traditional tropes of the genre only serve to benefit the film due to the authentic nature of the setting and characters, in addition to the amount of cleverness that this film has in dealing with its premise. As opposed to settling into clichés that only serve to make for cool looking action, this film is a wild mash of different genres, which only serve to tell a complete story.

I have used the word “authentic” a few times, which is very appropriate, as the kids who play the members of the gang are literally kids brought in from the streets who have similar backgrounds in terms of their characters. This only serves to make the film feel, as I’ve stated, authentic, as the dialogue and slang talk is delivered more than convincingly and in proper accents (thick South London accents to be exact, which has led to the initial controversial idea of adding subtitles to the film for American audiences). Despite the fact that this is an alien invasion film, with a fairly comic book-like narrative, the way the characters act around each other keeps it pretty grounded.

Speaking more on that point, the chemistry between all of the characters is great and the use of location feels like it’s been handled by someone who’s from the area (which is another true fact). Despite mainly working in one location, the film is detailed enough to give that location an identity and establish its geography well enough to keep the audience involved with where these characters and the aliens are, as well as having fun dividing up the action.

Another well handled and crucial aspect is how solid the creature design is. Without really delving deep into what these aliens look like, suffice it to say that they have a unique look that will go down as being much more memorable than other recent alien designs. I would probably credit that do to the simplicity of the creation, which combines the use of practical effects with some CG work added on. As the characters have more and more encounters with the aliens, it does become a lot of fun watching them deal with these creatures in different ways and seeing how the film manages to handle their placement in this story.

As far as the tone and filmmaking style goes, while having Edgar Wright’s name amongst the list of producers, this film is not a specific play on other films in the same way that ‘Shaun’ or ’Fuzz’ is. Attack the Block is very much its own beast, operating on its own level that merely has past films of a similar nature as its cinematic forefathers. Due to this, the film does have a lot of fun approaching, but not quite embracing a self aware edge. The film is quite funny, mainly through the chemistry between the boys, as well as the presence of Nick Frost, but it is a little gruesome as well and does not take the situation involving ferocious aliens lightly. Joe Cornish has done a wonderful job at putting this film together, managing to keep things moving at a brisk pace, while establishing characters, effective tension and action sequences, and even managed to get the electronica group Basement Jaxx to provide an awesome soundtrack for the film.

Attack the Block is a film that you go and seek out. Amongst the sea of so many mainstream releases, Attack the Block was a great breath of fresh air. Inventive filmmaking, awesome creature designs, fun characters, and a great soundtrack. I’ve bumped my previous rating up to a perfect score, simply because it is a movie I can stand behind and not focus on whatever potential flaws it may have. It’s my Scott Pilgrim vs. The World of 2011. Great work has been done by all involved to make a very entertaining film, especially as far as genre audiences are concerned. The flick has all the fun you’d want to see for a genre rollercoaster ride, trust.

 

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

7 Responses to “Attack The Block (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Matt Goodman

    Hands down best time at the movies in 2011.

  2. Sean Ferguson

    I’m going to rent this based on your love for it but we’re supposed to cheer on a gang of muggers? I’m with the aliens!

  3. Gerard Iribe

    Muggers? Why, because they live in the projects? Don’t be an elitist, Sean! 😉

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    I like how well addressed this will be, once you guys actually see the movie.

  5. Sean Ferguson

    No because Aaron called them muggers! If they rob people they are muggers no matter where they live and deserve to be alien chow.

  6. Matt Goodman

    TOO MANY COMMENTS.

    THIS IS TOO MUCH MADNESS TO EXPLAIN IN ONE TEXT.

    (joke for #blockheads only)

  7. Gregg

    Why do I get the feeling an American version is on the horizon?