Attack The Block

Aliens in unexpected places is the theme of the forthcoming 2011 Blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens which has the backing of Steven Spielberg and the talents of Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig but – as a kind of British prelude – first time director Joe Cornish sets his extra terrestrials against the kids from a London estate lead by John Boyega‘s mugger Moses.

Attack The Block sees the kids of titular block beating down on an attacking species which Cornish mines for whatever comic potential it has which – sadly – turns out to be not much.

Everything is well played but the heart of the film – Cornish’s characters – are so unlikeable as to see one routing for the furry, glowing teeth attackers. The assumption is that they have come with black hearts and evil intentions but no one asks “why can’t we all just, get along?”

The question which President Jack Nicholson puts to his invaders in Tim Burton‘s 1996 romp Mars Attacks! before they gleefully zap him into a small pile of dust.

Burton’s film is flawed of course – most of his work is and seems the better for it – but presents a version of Alien assault which seems unequivocal. They came to zap people, and enjoyed doing it.

Which is more than can be said for the Aliens in the mid-west of 2002’s Signs by the now devalued M. Night Shyamalan who run around Mel Gibson‘s corn fields as Gibson’s Priest struggles to work out the role of God in the death of his wife. The incursion of the seemingly mischievous visitors does nothing to cause Gibson to question The Almighty but the end works out holistic manner which is worth the wait.

Which is more than can be said for the end of Attack The Block which seems to conclude that roughing up your little green men is justified because they were the aggressive sort, which is exactly how Moses is when we are introduced to him, and how he progresses through the disappointing movie, which seems to lose any point it could make in contrasting the kids of an estate with the people from another planet.

Perhaps the Cowboys will do it better.

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By Michael Wood in June, 2011.

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