ATTACK THE BLOCK
starring Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh
written and directed by Joe Cornish
***/**** Image A+ Sound A+ Extras A-
starring Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso
written and directed by J.J. Abrams
by Walter Chaw Joe Cornish's low-budget creature-feature Attack the Block is a charmer, a delight, the kind of rare film--like Jack Sholder's The Hidden, Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator, or Steve De Jarnatt's Miracle Mile--that devotees will latch onto, and for good reason, with the fervour afforded genuine cult classics. It has energy to burn, a strange affinity with E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and a super-cool monster that looks like a cross between Ira from the "Moonshadow" comic and a grizzly bear. That most of it was carried off with practical effects is a shot in the arm for practical effects and a bearer of the nostalgia banner that seems to be popular lately, what with our dreams and memories fodder again for the celluloid couch. Better still, it introduces a new star into the future pantheon in John Boyega, who has charisma to burn as gang leader-cum-saviour Moses. The movie's tale of a group of street toughs has drawn comparisons to The Warriors, but I think the better analogy is Spielberg's E.T., not just in that alchemy between the fantastic and the absolutely mundane (South England's Lambeth neighbourhood), but also in the crafting of a living youth subculture alive with its own language, ritual, and custom. It's not too much to say that, at its best, Attack the Block makes you feel the way you did when the guys took things into their own hands to deliver the flying, omniscient, omnipotent E.T. to his landing site. It taps into the irrational cool. Which doesn't happen very often.