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Originally published July 28, 2011 at 3:01 PM | Page modified July 29, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Movie review

London toughs battle aliens in 'Attack the Block'

Review of the movie "Attack the Block," which has a mugging scene that gives the rest of this so-so comedy a weird feel. The film is playing at several theaters in Seattle.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 1.5 stars

'Attack the Block,' with Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Nick Frost. Written and directed by Joe Cornish. 90 minutes. Rated R for creature violence, drug content and pervasive language. Meridian.

quotes Moira's totally wrong about this one. Attack the Block was the most fun I've had at... Read more

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In the vein of "Shaun of the Dead" but a lot less fun, "Attack the Block" revolves around a group of young Londoners whose neighborhood is under siege by some unexpected intruders. This time, instead of zombies, the invaders are alien monsters — nasty, albeit low-budget, creatures, with glowing blue teeth and greasy-looking black fur — and the locals fighting them are a group of street kids who rally to defend their battered housing estate.

And these kids are, alas, the movie's problem. Writer/director Joe Cornish introduces them to us in an attempted mugging of Sam (Jodie Whittaker), a nurse who lives in the same council flats. There's nothing halfhearted or comic about the mugging, which takes place on a dark night on a dimly lit street, and Sam's genuine terror at being surrounded by hooded thugs armed with knives stayed with me throughout the movie. Shortly afterward, we're supposed to pretty much instantly switch loyalties and sympathize with the muggers, as we see the details of their difficult lives and realize that they are, after all, just kids. Kids who seemed quite ready to rob and terrorize their neighbor, but only stopped because they were interrupted by a meteor.

Throughout, "Attack the Block" is sporadically funny (there's a good running gag involving none of the kids having enough credit on their cellphones to text for help) but never as entertaining as it should be, and the presence of the usually reliable Nick Frost, of "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," doesn't add much zip. Ultimately, that opening scene sets the wrong tone for the movie, starting things off in a dark hole from which it never quite emerges.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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