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Attack the Block

(2011)
Yes, this was another film off that list of ten movies you should have seen in 2011 but didnt, and like some of the others, I had never heard of it. Block is an English movie, and covers some familiar ground: aliens land in London and proceed to attack a high-rise project. The protagonists this time are a bunch of thug kids, led by the charismatic Moses (John Boyega, looking for all the world like a teen Denzel Washington), occupants of said project, and you know they are neer-do-wells from the get go as they rob a young woman. Theyre one step up from feral kids, although theyre clever enough; and they are all too aware of the druglord who runs the building, and his potgrowing room on the top floor. The plot is pretty much the same as the forgettable Skyline, except here the characters are fun and engaging, the aliens attack them for a good reason, and the whole thing makes a hell of a lot more sense. There are the requisite chases and fight scenes, but most of them take advantage of the claustrophobic atmosphere of the apartment building, and the kids demonstrate a wily tenacity as they manage to give the creepy aliens the slip (the design shows little but black fur and glowing blue teeth). They must navigate between the vicious ebony aliens and the natural dangers of their normal world drug dealers, a dog-eat-dog mentality, etc. and prove themselves amusingly clever and resourceful while doing so. All the kids are good, but Boyega really shines as Moses, displaying nice screen presence and a bravado that belies his characters tender age (fifteen). Jodie Whittaker plays the woman they rob, and then must rely on for help, when it turns out shes a nurse; she very good as well. And Nick Frost drops by (hey, have to do something while Simon Pegg is shooting Star Trek), a fun performance in a smallish role. Having seen Skyline thoroughly wreck this exact concept, I was quite pleased by how clever and sharp this movie was no stupid ending, no ridiculous plot holes, just a straight-forward fight-the-aliens movie, smartly executed and well thoughtout. Yeah, we have seen this kind of thing before, but not quite with this flavor, and usually not this well done. Block is certainly worth tracking down if youve any interest at all. January 3, 2012