Review: Attack the Block DVD

Attack the Block DVDSTUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Joe Cornish | CAST: Jodie Whitaker, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, John Boyega, Nick Frost
RELEASE DATE: 10/25/2011 | PRICE: DVD $30.99, Blu-ray $35.99
BONUSES: commentaries, featurettes
SPECS: R | 88 min. | Science fiction comedy | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

A film that puts a new spin on the old alien invasion story, the British production Attack the Block is a highly energized mesh of science-fiction and action that may best be described as The Warriors meets Critters.

Nick Frost (l.) and Luke Treadaway face an alien invasion in Attack the Block.

Teeming with style, a hip pop culture, savvy attitude and a perverse sense of humor, the movie is the first feature directed by Joe Cornish, best known as a presenter for England’s The Adam and Roy Show, roles in the Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and the man who penned the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin.

Cormish’s script for Attack the Block finds a nurse named Sam (Jodie Whitaker, One Day) being robbed by a gang of teenagers led by a thug named Moses (John Boyega, Da Brick) during a fireworks display near her London apartment building. The gang’s attention is diverted by light beams shooting down from the sky and the appearance of a tiny alien. After killing the interstellar creature, Moses takes it to stoner Ron (Nick Frost, Paul) to identify what it is, but soon another breed of creatures — huge “alien wolf mother-f*ckers” with glow-in-the-dark fangs — set down and invade the building.

Produced by Wright, the movie successfully mines laughs and tension out of the characters’ increasing level of fear and anxiety. Cornish proves to be a real wizard at helming action sequences and, true to the pedigree of Wright and his team, is not shy about referencing another film — or five — at the same time. Among those saluted here: Assault on Precinct 13, Escape From New York, Streets of Fire and even Jean-Jacques Beineix’s Diva. And there’re a lot more.

Although the film’s heavy British accents may have had some affect on Attack the Block’s limited release in theaters in the States (despite great advance word-of-mouth), it shouldn’t deter anyone from taking a chance on the movie in its digital incarnation.

The DVD’s audio commentaries, three of them featuring just about everyone involved in the production, and featurette extras are sure to be appreciated by fans, but the English subtitles may be the most indispensable perk this disc has to offer.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.