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Attack the Block (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 5, 2011 by  



“Attack the Block” received a lot of rave reviews, was a bit hit in the UK and all I can say about this film and its Blu-ray release, I can easily sum it all up in one word… AWESOME! I was absolutely captivated by this film from beginning to end and was impressed by the three audio commentary, the making of featurette and the other special features included in this Blu-ray release.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2011 ATB Pictures Limited. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Attack the Block

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 88 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English and French  5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Creature Violence, Drug Content and Pervasive Language)

Release Date: October 25, 2011

Written and Directed by Joe Cornish

Executive Producer: Jenny Borgars, Will Clarke, Matthew Justice, Tessa Ross, Edgar Wright

Produced by Nira Park, James Wilson

Associate Producer: Lucy Pardee

Line Producer: James Biddle

Music by Steven Price

Cinematography by Thomas Townend

Edited by Jonathan Amos

Casting by Nina Gold

Production Design by Marcus Rowland

Art Direction by Andrea Coathupe

Set Decoration by Dick Lunn

Costume Design by Rosa Dias

Starring:

Jodie Whittaker as Sam

Nick Frost as Ron

John Boyega as Moses

Luke Treadaway as Brewis

Alex Esmail as Pest

Paige Meade as Dimples

Franz Drameh as Dennis

Terry Notary as The Creature

Leeon Jones as Jerome

Jumayn Hunter as Hi-Hatz

Danielle Vitalis as Tia

Simon Howard as Biggz

Sammy Williams as Probs

Maggie McCarthya s Margaret

Michael Ajao as Mayhem

Selom Awadzi as Tonks

From the producers of Shaun of the Dead, ATTACK THE BLOCK is a fast, funny, frightening action adventure movie that pits a teen street gang against an invasion of savage alien monsters. It turns a London housing project into a sci-fi battleground, the low-income apartment complex into a fortress under siege. And it turns a crazy mix of tough street kids into a team of kick ass heroes. It’s inner city versus outer space and it’s going to explode.

Have you ever wondered why in sci-fi alien films, aliens tend to come in contact with young boys, military soldiers or a man or woman who ends up helping them in the end?

Especially with alien infestation films, we always tend to see a perspective from either a family, government or military.  But what if an alien happened to come into contact with a gang in South London?  A troublesome gang from the block?

That is the concept of the British alien infestation sci-fi action film with a great balance of horror and comedy featuring the directorial debut of from writer/actor Joe Cornish (“The Adventures of Tin Tin”, “The Adam and Joe Show”) and a film from Nira Park and James Wilson, producers of “Shaun of the Dead”.

And if there is one thing that can be said about “Attack the Block”, it’s a unique action film that has received primarily positive reviews from the critics and became a hit in the UK.  Although having a limited theatrical release in the United States (as US distributors worried about the South London accents of the cast), with the rave reviews the film has received, it’s become one of the most highly anticipated Blu-rays for the fall season.  And now, “Attack the Block” makes its way to Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“Attack the Block” begins with a nurse named Sam (played by Jodie Whitaker, “St. Trinian’s”, “One Day”, “Venus”) heading home.  But she is mugged by a young teenage gang which consists of leader Moses (played by John Boyega), Pest (played by Alex Esmail), Dennis (played by Franz Drameh), Jerome (played by Leeon Jones) and Biggz (played by Simon Howard).

While mugging the victim, something comes out of the sky and hits the car near them.  Sam is able to escape but as for the gang, as they see the damaged car as a good opportunity to steal from it, they are attacked by a creature and Moses is hurt on the fact.  Thinking it’s some rabid dog, ape or some animal, Moses is quite upset that the creature scratched his face and now he wants revenge.

The creature had run into a building and sure enough, Moses and the gang grab their weapons and are able to beat the creature to death.

But when they look at the creature, they realize that it’s not a dog or an ape but because it came from the sky, it may be an alien.  And they probably can make big money with their discovery.

So, in need of adult expertise, they head to the local drug dealer Ron (played by Nick Frost, “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, “Pirate Radio”) and all Ron can think of is keeping it in their weed room, but he has to ask his boss Hi-Hatz (played by Jumayn Hunter) for permission.  So, Moses asks Hi-Hatz for the permission and they end up getting it, but also Hi-Hatz promotes Moses as one of his dealers and gives him some cocaine to sell.  But he gives Moses a stern warning, the “block” belongs to him.

As the guys start to show their respect towards Moses promotion, they notice more things falling from the sky.  Wanting to bust more heads, the gang all head back home where they gather their weapons and prepare to kill more aliens.

But when Jerome’s dog starts running towards an alien, it is immediately killed.  And to make things worse, this alien does not look anything like the previous alien they killed.  And this alien, wants to tear them apart.  Needless to say, the whole gang goes on the run to escape from the killer alien but because there are more of the aliens chasing after them, a few of them split up.  Meanwhile, Moses is captured by the police who were looking for him because of the mugging of the nurse.

As Moses is locked up and put into a police van, he can see the alien’s shining jaws glaring at him.  While the nurse Sam positively ID’s him inside the van, the alien comes at the police van and kills the cops.  And now it wants to kill Moses.  Trapped inside the van, members of the gang manage to disrupt the alien using fireworks and Dennis, one of the gang members, rescues Moses and Sam and they try to escape with the police van.

But instead of escaping, they accidentally hit the drug dealer Hi-Hatz’s car.  Now Hi-Hatz thinks that Moses has went to the cops about the drug deal, angered that they crashed his car and when he goes to hurt Moses, his friends come to his defense which angers Hi-Hatz even more and feels that Moses is trying to take over the Block.

As the gang manages to escape, now not only do they have aliens going after them, they have Hi-Hatz after them as well.

The group manage to get back into the Block while escaping from an alien but in the process, Pest is bitten by one of them.  While carrying them up, they see Sam trying to get inside her home and end up barging into her apartment demanding her to help Pest with his injury.

But while they wait inside the Block, what the group is unaware of, is that aliens are coming from all over the distance, climbing the apartment building and heading towards where they are all hiding.

With their lives in trouble, can Moses and his friends, including nurse Sam stay alive and protect themselves from the alien onslaught?

 

VIDEO:

“Attack the Block” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  While the film is shot during the night, outdoors, inside a building, etc.  The film manages to have plenty of detail thanks to good lighting and careful cinematography courtesy of the talented Thomas Townend (“Ratcatcher”, “Pride & Prejudice”, “Morvern Callar”).  Closes up of the faces of the characters showcase the really good makeup in depicting the scar that Moses gets from the first creature.  Closeups also showcase the details on a person’s face, the blood splatters and more.

I detected no banding, artifacts, edge enhancement or DNR.  Colors looked vibrant (especially that glow from the alien’s teeth) and black levels were nice and deep.  “Attack the Block” looks magnificent on Blu!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Attack the Block” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS HD-MA.  Let me just say that despite this feeling being a low-budget film, when it comes to audio, this film doesn’t sound low budget at all!  The lossless soundtrack is fantastic!  From the opening fireworks that envelop the sky to the aliens crashing into the cars or hearing their jaws as they try to take a bite of Moses and the gang to the various gun shots, explosions and fireworks that are employed throughout the film, especially with its hip hop soundtrack, “Attack the Block” is an immersive film!

There is plenty of action, from the aliens crashing into things while chasing the teenagers, the sounds of fireworks to the hip-hop bass-bumping music soundtrack and the music by Steven Price, “Attack the Block” sounds wonderful on Blu-ray!

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Attack the Block” comes with the following special features:

  • Junior Audio Commentary  – Featuring filmmaker Joe Cornish doing a Q&A audio commentary with John Boyega (Moses), Alex Esmail (Pest), Leeon Jones (Jerome), Franz Drameh (Dennis) and Simon Howard (Biggz). Note: Because Joe Cornish has a pet peeve of how audio commentaries are done, hates pauses and stupid comments, he sets the tempo by asking prepared questions to the cast members.
  • Senior Audio Commentary  – Featuring filmmaker Joe Cornish with Jodie Whitaker (Sam), Luke Treadway (Brewis), Nick Frost (Ron) along with John Boyega (Moses) and Alex Esmail (Pest).
  • Executive Audio Commentary – Featuring filmmaker and Executive Producers Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright.
  • Behind The Block – (1:01:23) Featuring a behind-the-scenes of “Attack the Block” from the casting of the characters, filming within certain days of the schedule, the challenging moments filmmaker Joe Cornish faced and more.
  • Creature Feature – (20:24) A look at the creation of the alien creatures from its look, its movements, its rhythm and more.
  • Meet the Gang – (4:08) Meet the young talent of “Attack the Block” as they talk about how they were cast and what they think about each other.
  • Unfilmed Action – (4:58) Because this is Joe Cornish’ debut as a filmmaker, he learned that he had to film within a budget which meant rewriting the script to fit the budget.  So, Joe Cornish explains what scenes were cut via showcasing the storyboards of the original script.
  • That’s A Rap – (2:26) Cast members of “Attack the Block” showcase their freestyle rap.
  • Theatrical Trailers – Featuring the original UK trailer (2:06) and the US Redband trailer (2:42).

I have only heard the hype about this film and until I finally sat down and watched this film for myself, I can see why so many have raved about it.

The first thing I did after watching this film is go to Facebook and Google+ to rave about how awesome “Attack the Block” is because the whole concept, the whole entire film based on a gang trying to survive an alien onslaught is rather fun and exciting to watch.

And you have to give credit for the film’s efficacy to Joe Cornish.  The writer/actor makes is filmmaking debut with “Attack the Block” and with him calling the shots, the first thing he asks for is not having actors trying to act like they are from South London, you have to find people who are from the troubled streets to make this film come alive.

And what you have is a group of older teenagers who know how to talk smack, teenagers who seem like they are the real thing and most of all, making you feel the film is authentic.  And Cornish, no matter how many takes it took to make the scene work, his dedication to capturing the authenticity of people living in South London was impressive, realistic and lends to the enjoyability of this film.

Many have described the film to “Goonies” but Goonies for the modern era.   And I can see the comparisons but one thing that makes this film so unique aside from its multiple use of slang is that in this film, none of the kids will be spared to the end.  Some will live, some will die but there is no happy ending in the sunset.

And while “Attack the Block” is a sci-fi, action adventure type of film, there is also a message that goes into the crime that takes place in South London.  Almost, similar to a film such as “Boyz n the Hood” which goes into the politics of having people kill themselves in the hood, “Attack the Block” also makes the statement as these kids feel that no one is going to help them.  If the Block is going to be attacked and they are going to be killed by aliens, does it matter to anyone?  They are the poor, their location is where drug deals take place, people live miserably and now, they have a new danger that can kill them off but does anyone give a damn?

Suffice to say, when we understand the living conditions that these people live in, we become sympathetic, especially as these group of teenagers do what they can to protect their block.

Meanwhile, filmmaker Joe Cornish knows how to use comedy in a film that could very much be a dark “Goonies meets the Warriors meets Predator” in South London.  Comedy is the key to the enjoyment of this film and while you expect talent like Nick Frost (“Hot Fuzz”, “Paul” and “Shaun of the Dead”) to earn laughs, the surprise star is young Alex Esmail as Pest, and there is no doubt in my mind that we are going to see more of this young actor in the near future.

Meanwhile, I also have to commend actor John Boyega for playing the stoic leader Moses (and is it me or does Boyega look like a young Denzel?).  Not bad for a young actor who discovered the audition for this film online and then eventually getting the part for the lead character role!

If anything, it’s the characters that make “Attack the Block” an enjoyable film.  The aliens, we know they are there…they look ugly, they’ll thrash anything in their way but instead of focusing on the actual fear of trying to allude the aliens, Cornish was able to develop a character-driven screenplay in which everyone has their part in the film.  From the five gang members, Sam the nurse and even the drug dealers or drug buyer.  Everyone has a a chance to partake in the chaotic nature of the film but to accomplish it with a low budget, for the most part, I’m quite impressed.

And as far as the Blu-ray is concerned, this is one hell of a release!  You get three audio commentary (and because Joe Cornish is a big fan of them, he makes sure to avoid the pitfalls of kitschy commentary by making sure dialogue is kept up throughout the film), an intriguing video diary of the making of the film from pre-production through the completion of filming and more. And the picture and audio quality of this release is fantastic!  If anything, this is one heck of a solid Blu-ray release and fans of the film will definitely be appreciative of the overall release.

It’s a shame that “Attack the Block” only received limited distribution in theaters in America, personally I don’t think that the slang and South London accents affected my understanding of the film as it was easy to follow.  Sure, it could have had more scares but I found myself laughing and was literally captivated by the film from beginning to end.  And as far as the alien infestation goes, due to the success of the film, I get a feeling that it’s not all over and we may see more of Moses, Pest and possibly Sam in the near future.  At least, I hope so!

“Attack the Block” is highly recommended!






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