Hype’s a funny thing isn’t it?
I saw Attack The Block about two weeks ago and just have not built up the steam to write about it. Granted part of the reason for this is the week long road trip I took. But equally troubling is the fact that I haven’t been able to formulate my thoughts on the film in a way that doesn’t make it sound like my soul is of the consistency of sour Owl Poop.
Because like I said, Hype is one hell of a double edged sword. Hype is what allows a foreign genre film like Attack The Block to play in US Theaters. Hype allows said film to break out of the “foreign film ghetto” and get a crack at a larger audience. And hype is exactly what had me walking out of Attack The Block with a big ole case of the “mehs”.
Attack The Block is the Edgar Wright produced, Joe Cornish directed sci fi film. That finds out what happens when an alien invasion lands in the slums of London. It’s Guy Fawkes Day (I think?) so thanks to the chaos, and downgraded location of the attack the authorities don’t cotton to what’s going on until a few of their own get splattered. By that time it’s far too late, and in the best Amblin fashion all that stands between London and certain destruction is a group of young outcast teens (albeit cut from a rougher cloth than most of the Amblin leads).
The bitch of it is that I know had I caught Attack The Block at one of its earlier screenings, my focus would be completely different. Had I it snuck up on me as an unassuming programmer among many, I like its early champions would most likely have praised the film for its character driven story (a rarity among genre films of any stripe), admirable social conscience, charismatic lead performance, innovative moments and several tense set pieces. However, thanks to seeing it after it was ordained as a modern genre film classic, my thoughts instead tended to be more along the lines of “Well someone has been watching his Joe Dante”, “Well that was a bit heavy handed”, and “I fervently wish that these alien creatures reminded me more of HR Giger, and less of the things in Critters”.
Now exactly none of this is the movies fault. It just comes from me seeing the film on the opposite end of its prerelease hype. Like I said, hypes a necessary evil but it is in fact an evil. When one allows their expectations to be raised from “modest” to “high” there are certain consequences. In that way Attack The Block is perhaps the anti-Ward.
So take this review as my gift to you. Definitely see Attack The Block. Particularly if you have a chance to do so in the theaters. It’s important to support this sort of original genre cinema if nothing else. Just do yourself a favor and cycle down your expectations a little. There are many fine things in Attack The Block. Don’t allow them to be overshadowed by the fine things that are not there as I did.
PS. Dear English readers, Are you guys just cloning Emily Mortimer now? Not that I'm complaining but jeez that was downright disconcerting.