It’s 2015 and Star Wars 7 will finally be released by the end of the year. This is cause for much celebration. The teaser trailer brought many a fan back to their childhood and showed characters who I believe – based purely on assumption – to be the leads in the new trilogy. John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver. (No, it’s not confirmed to be Adam Driver, but who are we kidding? It’s Adam Driver.) While I’m big fans of Isaac and Driver, I haven’t seen any of Ridley’s previous work. I’m sure she’ll be at least solid since Abrams’ is aces at casting actors. Then there’s John Boyega. He’s done some smaller work here and there but let’s be real; I’m here to talk Attack the Block. Why? Because it’s 2015 and so few of you have seen Attack the Block.
Released in 2011, there was almost no better movie than Attack the Block that year (Drive came out a few months later). It’s a mix of those low-budget John Carpenter flicks, with similarities to Gremlins and a touch of The Goonies (with an R Rating). Five teenage hoodlums from South London fight for their lives against some alien-gorilla-wolf-motherfuckers. Block works on so many levels of filmmaking that it’s hard to even begin talking about. Have no fear, though, I’ve compiled a list of 7 reasons why you should watch Attack the Block before Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out in December.
Boyega/Moses the Hero: When I first heard Boyega was officially cast in Star Wars, I cheered. He was only around 18 years old when he filmed Block and I’ll just say it: Boyega gave the best performance of that year. The character of Moses doesn’t start out as a hero. He and the other kids rob a nurse on her way home from work. Moses is a born leader, but he’s a little shit. Boyega still manages to imbue Moses with humanity. Once you begin to understand the character, and the character begins to understand his actions have consequences, Moses becomes someone worth rooting for. Lots of movies posture their leading men/protagonists as heroes. By the time the block begins chanting Moses’ name, Block has earned the right to call him a hero.
Social Commentary: Block doesn’t require Oscar-bait screenwriting to mention topics of race and social injustice. It merely intertwines it with the story being told. Samantha, the nurse, often tells the boys to call the police for help. Everyone just brushes off the idea because they know how things work. The police don’t care about looking out for a couple of kids from South London. I’ve mentioned before how the kids are little shits – they are – but it’s important to remember the unfortunate environment in which they were raised. They’re products of The Ends. With nobody to look out for them, the kids learn to look after themselves.
Joe Cornish: My friend Mike recently asked a valid question about Joe Cornish, “Not sure why every studio isn’t lined up outside Joe Cornish’s door.” I completely share this sentiment. Cornish is obviously inspired by movies like The Goonies, Alien, and other classic movies. The noteworthy aspect is that he doesn’t spend time homaging them as much as he does influencing their style with his own voice. From the most silent dialogue scenes to the final chase, Cornish makes every moment feel as big as it should. While I doubt Cornish would take a superhero gig anytime soon after the events between his buddy Edgar Wright and Marvel Studios, I don’t want to live in a world where Cornish never gets to make a Star Wars movie down the line.
Big Mistakes, Bigger Responsibility: In less than an hour and thirty minutes, Block is able to convincingly put all the central characters through arcs. How often do you see a movie even give characters emotional arcs anymore? That’s not to say every movie needs to have arcs, but when they strive to create development of an unlikable character, the overall experience is more rewarding when you actually end up liking them by the end of their journey.
Big Alien Gorilla Wolf Motherfuckers: CGI is best used when it complements practical effects. The nameless aliens (see section title) that crash down in South London are mostly men in suits. Their pitch black fur and neon teeth are enhanced by CGI, giving them a less earthly feel than their surroundings. It’s a blend of traditional and new styles displayed by Cornish make these aliens among the most interesting creatures science fiction has to offer.
Steven Price/Basement Jaxx: A good soundtrack goes a long way. A truly outstanding soundtrack is one in a million. Once again mixing old and modern styles, we now come to the John Carpenter inspired soundtrack. The slow, haunting beats of Steven Price are imbued with the electronic rhythms of Basement Jaxx to suit the dimly lit halls of the Block. Music never stays too backtracks into familiar territory, constantly evolving alongside our protagonists. The last three songs, Moses vs the Monsters, Moses the Hero, and The Ends are downright euphoric.
Fun Without Dumb: This could have been a straight creature feature with no presence of emotion. But this is a movie much smarter than it lets on. Characters meet grizzly ends and Block doesn’t cheapen any of their deaths with snazzy one-liners. As people fall prey to the BAGWMs, Block wisely manages to avoid falling into depressing territory. The energy from the script and Cornish’s direction keeps proceedings moving at a breakneck pace. If you just want to watch a fun monster movie, Block is your best bet. If you want a monster movie that has something more in store for its audience, you’ll love Block even more.