Movie Review: Attack the Block
Attack The Block is a flick that I’ve been quietly pining away for the last 5 months. It was in American theatres around mid-July and no one had heard about it. Or wanted to see it. Then it was gone in the blink of an eye but kept popping up again on my radar, once because Edgar Wright of Scott Pilgrim fame (also the executive producer of ATB) was talking it up, and another when Racialicious wrote up a blog entry about it. Well, several to be more precise. I’ll link those at the bottom.
Really, I’m sure people have already covered the movie in far more eloquent terms than I could. But, for me personally, watching something like this is a minor miracle that I’d like to pass on to friends, family and some of the random strangers that stumble upon my blog.
Please – go rent Attack the Block. It’s available through Red Box (there’s one of those on every major street corner, ya know). I’m sure it’s on Netflix. It’s out there, circulating in the world and here you are, sitting in front of your computer screen reading some silly review.
RANT ABOUT GENRE ENTERTAINMENT
What I love about alien movies lately? They let us have a dialogue about race that I just don’t see happening in a lot of other genre entertainment. Game of Thrones is rad, but race is not on the menu for that particular six course meal. LOTR is a bit more subtle than 300, but there’s still an element of dark vs light man flesh (guess who wins?).
The gothic/monster genre has done a little bit better on the race front – at least Twilight made an attempt (though arguably a poor one) to include Native Americans. Remember those people who lived here in “America” before white kids took over? Yeah, very often genre fiction doesn’t.
By far – science fiction allows us to meet on an equal playing field. I love you fantasy, but you are far to stuck in your gender/race roles. Sci Fi is usually forward looking. It has the glory of giving us alternate future worlds in which it doesn’t matter if you’re a dude a lady or black and white.
BACK TO THE MOVIE REVIEW
Attack The Block is like that. Except it talks about race. Gives a bit of a nod to gender. It talks about socio-economic status. It doesn’t give us a happy ending in which the heroes solve all those problems. But it does give us a realistic one. Which is exceptional for a film about a gang of tough London kids fighting off a horde of aliens in their apartment complex.
Dan, The DH, was skeptical when we first plopped the DVD in. This, from a guy who spent the weekend playing Skyrim. But by the end he was clearly won over to my side of the fence. The side where I knew this would be a good, fun and unique romp before the DVD even started spinning up.
You know there’s something wrong in the world when a 30 year old white woman gets excited about seeing a 15 year old black male protagonist in a movie about aliens. Granted, John Boyega who potrays the hero Moses DOES look a lot like a young Denzel Washington.
Dan and I aren’t the only ones who noticed. Seriously, google “John Boyega” and “Denzel Washington” it’s in every damn article written about him. Also worth noting – he’s already signed by Spike Lee for an HBO drama “Da Brick.” Hollywood moved fast!
Maybe because there have been no young, notable black male stars gracing the big screen lately. Especially depicted in heroic roles. It would seem that Will Smith and Denzel Washington, Hollywood’s go-to black heroes quietly backed away from the scene several years ago. We are living in a heroic black man vacuum. Am I wrong? Someone – please, comment below with links and prove me wrong.
As for the movie, there were a few stereotypes and tropes along the way. I’m not forgiving this flick all of it’s relatively minor indiscretions. But there was a realness and a…well, a sort of amoral look at what race relations are like down at this level. It wasn’t particularly judgmental towards any of it’s characters. This is the level where I tend to live. On the kind of streets where people deal drugs openly, mug each other, break into people’s homes, slash your tires for fun,etc.
An alien invasion from this perspective IS unique. And to populate your movie with people of color and women…shoot. You’ve made an instant fan of me. Not to mention that the cinematography is gorgeous for what is probably a lower budget film – based on Hollywood standards. There is dramatic and horrific tension. The aliens are incredibly creepy. I found myself genuinely terrified for the young kids and concerned that none of them perish.
If you are into good movies, you’ll probably be into this. It’s not the be-all and end-all of science fiction, but it’s worth watching. Give yourself about 5 minutes to acclimate to the audio because the accents and the slang will be a bit difficult to decipher at first, especially for older Americans.
But then it all starts to make sense. Believe it.
Bechdel Test: ”Attack the Block” does not feature more than two female characters with names who converse about something other than men and therefore DOES NOT PASS the women test, DOES PASS the men test and does feature more than two minority characters who have names, and speak to one another about something other than white people so it DOES PASS the race test.
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