Attack The Block

I’m rarely compelled to write after seeing films I like, because commenting intelligently beyond saying: “yeah, amazin, really good, great characters, plot, performances..”  doesn’t really add an awful lot.  I’m equally rarely compelled to write after seeing bad or average films.

It’s when there’s been a good degree of promotion, a bandwagon of sorts, a level of anticipation and expectation has been generated; when that happens and I feel let down, on leaving a theatre I’m something of a coiled spring.

Attack The Block was the first film in a long time which I’d been looking forward to and had high hopes for.  I saw positive tweets from people, albeit of a celebrity-ish profile, whose opinions I rated.  I’m a huge fan of the first time director Joe Cornish’s work and general humour through early-days television and podcasts with Adam Buxton.  He reliably has me giggling and spluttering each week.

Ergo this film would make me laugh, surely once, hopefully several times.

It didn’t, which really disappointed me for all of the above reasons.  Ok, I thought after the first and second acts, something will now happen which is inventive and clever.  Nothing did.

I’d heard Cornish mention how he hoped the narrative would mess with the audience’s heads by sticking with the unsympathetic characters that carry out a council estate mugging in one of the opening scenes.  It didn’t.  It just made it more boring.  That is, for me: a white middle class boy.  But irrespective of that there was very little personality to any of the characters; none were memorable, winning or funny.

The narrative vehicle of an alien invasion on one council estate – “The Block” – was unorthodox and wacky, yet you still felt like you’d seen it before.  Or something like it.  And it was done much better.  The film had drawn comparisons with Shaun Of The Dead, a film with much more wit, charm and warmth than this at any point showed an indication of mustering.  It was a wildly flattering comparison, possibly helped by Nick Frost’s appearance in both.

Being a bitter cynic, I wonder whether the successful promotion and build-up was as much a result of Cornish’s profile, the contacts he must already have, the good nature he exudes and must receive back in turn.  I’m sure he’s a nice, witty guy who people warm to, so they want to help him out and like his film.

And I understand why; it’s human and natural, as well as being contrived and something which might have other would-be film-makers gnawing their hands off in frustrated disgust.

Yet nothing could get in the way of the fact that this wasn’t very good.  Granted, by no means terrible or painful to watch, but for what it was, bereft and average.

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