It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these …Is Awesome posts. I’d like to say it’s because I haven’t been super impressed by anything in a while and not that I forgot about this particular category for a while. But, maybe it just took something so cool, fun and awesome to remind me.
I’d been hearing great things about Attack The Block (2011) pretty much since it came out. People were praising it and writer/director Joe Cornish for putting together a flick that pits British teenagers against an alien invasion. Comparisons were being made to lots of 80s movies I love like Goonies and Gremlins, so I was excited to finally see it.
When I got it from Netflix–it’s disc only for the moment, though that tends to change a week or two after I get a disc, so keep your eyes peeled–I popped it in. Very quickly, I realized that it would not be the kind of movie that I could 1) watch with the kid in the room and 2) casually watch it. Because the film revolves around a gang of street kids in London, there’s a lot of slang being tossed around that required me to turn the subtitles on. By the way, I had slang like “fam,” “bruv” and just their general cadence in my head for a day or two after watching.
To expand, the movie kicks off with a group of kids mugging a young woman. Once they’re done, they wind up seeing something crash land not far away and go to investigate. Being the tough dudes they are, they decide to murder the alien creature they find and then run around their neighborhood and apartment building with its carcass. They wind up at Nick Frost’s house. He’s a weed dealer who’s also got a nerdy white kid and the gangsta who runs all the gang activity in the hood hanging out there. The kids see more aliens crashing down, weapon themselves up and go to war against the creatures.
As you might be able to tell from the above description, the film’s a lot darker than I first expected. The kids are more immoral than I thought they’d be, exemplified by the fact that they pointlessly decide to just kill this strange creature. However, it felt honest because it’s a bunch of scared kids who think they’re tough encouraging each other to be tough in the face of something terrifying.
And that’s really what makes this movie such a success. Yes, it’s cool to see Moses–leader of the gang–wielding a sword and chopping some super-dark aliens up, but it’s the way he and the rest of the characters handle themselves that really resonates. That’s also what makes the film feel like the successor of something like Goonies. You’ve got these real moments in the face of unreal circumstances which keeps the whole thing grounded.
But, like I said, there’s also a lot of cool moments that make the film exciting as well. That whole last scene? Awesome. The one in the hallway with the smoke? Holy crap. The nice thing about the kids having such heavy accents is that, it actually drew me into the film more, like a comedian whispering on stage. I had to focus and pay even more attention, which meant I put away all my distractions and gave it an actual watch instead of always looking on my phone or keeping it on in the background while I did work. That’s the way you need to watch it, to just sit down and really watch it. It will engage you, draw you in and show you a thing or two you haven’t seen. I liked it so much, I’m actually thinking about buying my own copy, something I haven’t done with a new movie since The Expendables, I think.