Directed by: Joe Cornish
Produced by: Nira Park
Screenplay by: Joe Cornish
Starring: John Boyega
Music by: Basement Jaxx
Cinematography by: Thomas Townend
Editing by: Jonathan Amos
Studio: Studio Canal
Big Talk Productions
UK Film Council
Distributed by: Optimum Releasing (United Kingdom)
Screen Gems (United States)
Release date(s): 12 March 2011 (SXSW)
13 May 2011 (United Kingdom)
Running time: 88 minutes
Country: United Kingdom
Budget: £8 million
Gross revenue (as of publication): $3, 964, 682 (BoxOfficeMojo.com)
Been another one of those long week's since I last uploaded a review. However, in the process, as I fear of running out of potential film's to review, I have been frequenting the Strand Cinema again of late. They are running their terrific summer programmes, ensuring cheap cinema prices and deals through my loyalty card. I have since seen The Hangover Part II and Water For Elephants, reviews for which will be posted soon, as will a review for X-Men: First Class, which I am seeing tonight, The Beaver on Monday alongside a British comedy on a double-bill whose name escapes me. Keep your eyes peeled. And once again, to Jack's complete lack of surprise, the Shutter Island film review will be posted at some point.
So here we have Joe Cornish's Attack The Block. The film has received a number of critical raves and plaudits since it's premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival. Scott Wampler of The Examiner has compared the work to other low-budget features such as Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Neill Blomkamp's District 9. Also, it currently sits on the Rotten Tomatoes website at a rating of 88% positive. It has certainly opened up the eyes of a number of film critics, and as my good friend and fellow film critic Daniel Kelly (DanlandMovies) didn't get see a press screening of the film, the both of us made a venture to the Movie House Dublin Road to see what the fuss was all about.
The film follows a group of young London hoods, characters who are each played by the actors portraying them, particularly John Boyega as Moses, who after mugging one of their neighbour's Sam, played by Jodie Whitaker, discover that aliens are crash-landing nearby and decide to hole up in and defend their council estate. Joe Cornish is clearly a talented guy, who handles a potentially very messy project with skill and class, making what is a low-budget affair feel like a bigger-budgeted American flick. This is of course helped by the technical departments in the filmmaking process, as Thomas Townend and Jonathan Amos do good jobs with regards to the cinematography and editing respectively. Finally, Basement Jaxx and Steven Price deliver a thumping good soundtrack which in it's bass-heavy house beats consistently matches the appropriate pace(s) of the film.
Despite being a movie that has a number of strengths, there are ultimately flaws which condemn it from being the great movie that it really could be. For starters, you do get the impression that the great Nick Frost is cashing it in when it comes to his performance. However, the big problem is not Frost, that is a minor gripe, but Joe Cornish's script. Like Cedar Rapids, it suffers from a severe identity crisis. However, while Cedar Rapids is more along the lines of multiple personality disorder, Attack The Block is written too much as a jack all trades, trying to be too many things at once. As a result, it is not as funny as a comedy as it should be, nor as scary as a horror film should be. Furthermore, despite having some solid performances, their overall characterisation is very two-dimensional. Finally, despite interesting features, they just come across as great window-dressing to what is essentially a nuts-and-bolts film.
That is not to say that nuts-and-bolts does not mean good. I thought that the film, despite a severely hampered script, was a good, solid piece of entertainment. However, to put things in perspective, and perhaps attempting to put myself on a pedestal, the film is not as good as the majority of critics seem to believe. If you read Daniel Kelly's review on DanlandMovies you'll find that I am the most generous of the two, both of us having seen the film. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't engaged, as it was consistent throughout, and at one point I actually had to pull myself back from shouting and pointing "behind you!" The last time that happened was at a full screening, family and all, of the most recent Harry Potter, in which I loudly said "Of course it's the fucking sword" at the appropriate moment. While really needing to brush up on the screenwriting side of things, Attack The Block proves that Joe Cornish is a director to watch out for.
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.1/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Good enough (happy at the idea that one character spent most of the film inside a bin)