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This is too much madness to explain in one text!


Attack the Block 
(2011) 

Solidly directed by Joe Cornish of Adam and Joe fame, and featuring wonderfully original hairy aliens with glow-in-the-dark teeth. Unfortunately, the result is unworthy of all the online hype it's received. Cornish sets himself a mountain to climb in terms of earning empathy for the teen gang at the centre of the story by having them mug a nurse (who features throughout) at knifepoint in the opening sequence. 

He might have achieved this if he had spent more time honing the script, but he is so comfortable painting in broad strokes, both in the comedy and the drama, that there is no resonance. The gang’s leader is clearly supposed to be identified as the hero (as the change in attitude of the understandably aggrieved nurse and the chanting of his name by the crowd at the end inform us), but this point feels as if it is arrived at by amassing filmic references such as a template (Assault on Precinct 13 most obviously) rather than finding real inspiration in the outside world (which Cornish professes to have done). The result feels too much like the Tarantino approach of fiction birthing fiction. Perfectly acceptable, but resistant to probing for deeper meaning. If Cornish is trying to reflect the reality of the kids’ situation (they're appealing if hard-done-by little scamps deep down) he failed, as the attempts at social commentary come across as glib or unearned (Moses’ Spider-man duvet, for example). In terms of audience identification, the film never recovers from the terrorising of the nurse. Post London riots that identification seems even less likely (notably, praise has been far more united in the US). 

The argument might be that it takes a brave audience to make the leap with the characters. But I’d suggest it shows up the limitations of the script, which is never as witty, inventive or profound as it wants to be. That aside, the targets Cornish sets up for yuks (a couple of pre-teens out to prove their mettle, a gangsta drug dealer on a mission of revenge, a posh boy stoner) make this feel very familiar as a comedy playing principally to internet geeks who worship at the feet of Pegg and Wright. Which makes sense, as Wright is a producer and Nick Frost has a (funny) role as an easygoing dealer.


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