Attack the Block
UK | France 2011
Directed by Joe Cornish

What I find refreshing about this energetic, alien-invasion movie, set in a high rise apartment building on a “shitty council estate in South London” (The Block of the film’s title) is how it effortlessly grafts an urban youth narrative onto a sci-fi premise (with lots of nods to other genre movies, including E.T., Critters and The Warriors) and then transforms it into a political awakening — the birth of a leader even — for its main character, Moses (John Boyega), and maybe for us if we’re paying attention, all without getting heavy.

It also exhibits simple but elegant and propulsive storytelling with CG serving the story rather than the other way around (something that seems harder and harder to accomplish in Hollywood); snappy vernacular diagloue (ditto); a deft and evocative use of urban architecture and public space, both interior and exterior; and finally the thing that makes it so re-watchable, a raft of lively, funny performances from its mostly teen ensemble cast, For me, this is a lot more satisfying and less grandiose than District 9, for example. It’s that rare sci-fi in which we discover people and language in our own world, not just monsters from other ones.

For an interview with director Cornish, go here.