The British comedies Shaun of the Dead and
Hot Fuzz became cult favorites not because they were parodies of genre
films (Shaun was zombie movies and Fuzz was action flicks),
but because they were serious genre films that were made funny.
In fact, Shaun and Hot Fuzz co-star Nick
Frost told me a few years ago, “We don’t like to use the word spoof or
parody. We love [action] films. We love horror films, too. We like to
think of them as love letters to the genre.”
Attack the Block is being advertised as being
from the makers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and that is
true – though it is from the B-team behind those films. Co-writer/star
Simon Pegg is not involved at all, co-writer/director
Edgar Wright just has a production credit here and co-star Frost takes on a
supporting role. Writer/director Joe Cornish was an actor in the other two
films – although only in Hot Fuzz did he have a significant role.
Cornish is an up-and-comer, though. He also wrote the upcoming Spielberg
production of The Adventures of Tin-Tin and a planned Marvel comic
film of Ant-Man.
Attack the Block does capture
the anarchic genre humor of the previous movies despite a different
behind-the-scenes look. It is enjoyably quirky and British just like the
other films, a fun mixture of sci-fi, action and comedy. It even stumbles
in some of the same ways – the violence is a little too intense for a comedy
and some of the funny parts are played a bit too seriously.
Yet, in many ways,
Attack the Block has a rather simple premise.
Killer aliens attack a run-down pension house in London and a gang of hoods
have to fight off the creatures and save their block.
It’s a funny idea and mostly well done. It’s cheesy
somewhat; particularly the aliens, which look like huge
fluffy black dogs with no eyes and
teeth. Still they are fast and they are hungry and they are looking
to take our heroes (and everyone else) down.
The problem is, though, I have to admit I never got
over my first impression of these gang members. They are first introduced
with five of them robbing a single woman for her cell phone. Then they
decide they are going to kill an incapacitated creature with
provocation other than the fact it landed near them. Then they carry the
carcass around and try to sell it to a drug dealer.
No matter what these guys do afterwards, no matter how
brave it may have been, no matter the fact that they even eventually save
and befriend their mugging victim, I couldn’t get over my initial sense that
they were just a bunch of thugs. In fact, it turns out eventually that
their building is specifically being targeted specifically because of these
kids’ tough-guy acts.
I was at a screening filled with both film critics and
normal people and through the audience reactions to the film, I get the
feeling that I was in the minority in this reservation. However, while it
didn’t totally ruin the film for me, it made it kind of hard to root for the
supposed “good guys.”
Yet, despite this fact, I do have to say that Attack
the Block is quite good as an
audience-pleaser. It does work better as a comedy than as a horror film,
but the movie works overall surprisingly well.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: July 27, 2011.