Full of gory practical effects and fluent pop-cultural references, Attack the Block
--an alien invasion scenario squeezed into a single apartment building--belongs to the same species of British genre comedy as Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead
and Hot Fuzz
. Director Joe Cornish takes some clever routes around the limitations of his budget, filming on location in London's Heygate Estate (itself a once utopian science-fiction experiment) and mining the freshness of his young cast's authentic street slang. When the aliens arrive (they simply drop, during a frosty Bonfire Night, out of the shining pepper of the stars) they're also smartly designed: primal and supernatural, no detail escapes their digitally-blackened fur other than a set of menacingly glowing teeth, all of them incisors. The block's defence is up to a group of teenage hoods, lead by the imposing Moses (John Boyega) and reluctantly helped by middle-class neighbour Sam (Jodie Whittaker). Armed with fireworks and mounted on muscle bikes, they launch an entertaining and Spielbergian resistance through the block's labyrinth of corridors and walkways. As the body count racks up, Joe Cornish's smart script highlights the block's painful social divisions: Sam, the audience surrogate, is mugged by Moses' crew in the film's opening scene, and through Sam we're drawn into the poignant domestic lives of kids on the brink of gangsterism. More alien to each other than the beasts on their tail, the survival of these divided class members hangs on the recognition that they have a stake in each other. --Leo Batchelor
Joe Cornish writes and directs this British sci-fi comedy action adventure starring Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway and Nick Frost. While being robbed by a gang of thugs outside the South London tower block where she lives, trainee nurse Sam Whittakers hooded attackers suddenly break off their assault when a meteorite hits a nearby carpark. As Sam flees the scene, the gang members fend off an attack from a small alien being that has emerged from the crash-site, killing it in the process, and carrying off their prize to their rooftop lair. But now, as Sam and the police search for the gang, a new wave of meteorites fall. With the gang emboldened by their latest victory, they prepare to face their new-found enemy, only to be confronted with an army of much larger, savagely vicious alien monsters, hellbent on finding their comrade.