"British Sci-fi is back with a vengeance"

When I was growing up, life was pretty easy.  I had the luxury of living in Devon, so there were always fields to play football in, woods to explore, and generally a lot of opportunities to get my knees dirty.  Unfortunately for the gang of Moses, Pest, Dennis, Jerome and Biggz, life isn’t that simple.  South London council estates are a far cry from the rolling fields of the Westcountry, and knives, guns and drugs dominate their lives.

In some ways, it’s sad that a film like ‘Attack the Block’ can be made – there is no grossly exaggerated characterisation at work here – there are people like this living in council estates all over London, and that is a sad reflection on society.  On a positive side though, the film is brilliant.  The plot is one of the most bizarre I’ve ever come across – aliens invade a South London council estate, and are defeated a gang of teenage boys, a young nurse, and an incredibly stoned toff.

It sounds completely nuts, but the director, Joe Cornish, manages to make it work, and make it work very well indeed.  Yes there are alien gorilla things with glow in the dark teeth, and yes most of the language requires a degree in ‘yoof speak’ to comprehend, but at the core of the film is a very compelling story indeed.  Throughout the course of the movie, Cornish, ably abetted by a hugely impressive cast (amazingly the majority of whom are making their cinematic debuts), manages to turn villains into heroes, enemies into friends, and most importantly, makes the audience care about what happens. 

‘Attack the Block’ shouldn’t work.  A director making his debut, a young and inexperienced cast, and a crazy plot, based on a depressing truth is not a recipe for success.  The great news for everyone else, and especially British cinema, is that it does work, and works bloody well.