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Tag Archive: Attack the Block


iBoy is a 2017 Netflix original movie that may appeal to fans of Unbreakable and Attack the Block starring Bill Milner (Dunkirk, X-Men: First Class) as Tom, a teenager in London readying for exams, who is friends with Lucy, played by Maisie Williams (Doctor Who, Game of Thrones) who he has been infatuated with but never asked out.  After he finally works up the nerve he arrives at her apartment to find masked thugs attacking Lucy’s family and raping her.  His instinct is to run and call the police, but they shoot him in the head as he’s running away and they leave Tom for dead.

A dark and serious film with a sci-fi twist, iBoy is based on the 2010 novel by Kevin Brooks.  The film does not stretch much beyond its title, but it does offer up a British teenage thriller where the two survivors (Lucy of rape and Tom of the hole in his skull) grow together to help each other with their trauma, using sci-fi as a storytelling device.  The sci-fi element makes Tom a superhero in the realm of Bruce Willis’s masked vigilante in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable or Rami Malek’s hacker Elliot in Mr. ROBOT.  When the bullet hit Tom’s head it went through his smart phone, leaving bits of the phone technology in his brain permanently, too dangerous to be surgically removed.  Those bits soon allow Tom to tap into the electrical power and communications grid and he learns quickly how to harness his power to avenge the pain caused to Lucy, who stays home from school and doesn’t want to leave her apartment.  But Maisie Williams’ Lucy gets her own opportunity for revenge once the higher steps of the criminal underworld ladder begin to hone in on Tom as the mastermind that is putting them in jail one by one.

More drama than thriller, the film offers up a fairly simple plot, yet those intrigued by the life of teens in a big European city in the realm of Attack the Block’s street thugs will see that drugs and guns cause trouble for inner-city kids everywhere.  The visual sci-fi element–Tom pulling data from people and machines from all across the city–is nicely done, and the production overall is something better than a typical made-for TV film.

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It’s been nearly five years since we first reviewed the award-winning, low-budget sci-fi alien invasion flick Attack the Block.  Now that Jodie Whittaker is in the spotlight for her selection as the next Doctor in the BBC’s Doctor Who, and John Boyega will be returning this December for his second stint as Imperial turned Resistance fighter Finn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, let’s look back to them working together as co-leads in writer/director Joe Cornish’s modern cult classic.  Attack the Block should be in every sci-fi fan’s arsenal.  When we first reviewed Attack the Block here at borg.com, we compared it to another low-budget British sci-fi/horror mash-up, 1985’s Lifeforce (which co-starred a then less-known Patrick Stewart).  After repeat viewings since then, it’s clear Attack the Block is a much better film, full of action, suspense, humor, and good acting by young actors who all feel very real on-screen.  In 2011 only fans of the actors from the Cornetto films would have noticed it, because of the slightly larger than cameo performance by Nick Frost, one-half of the Simon Pegg/Frost comic duo (Shaun of the Dead, The Fuzz, Spaced, Paul).  Attack the Block was an unknown commodity that didn’t get much reaction at the U.S. box office in 2011 because it was not marketed well and it was not a typical, Hollywood-made sci-fi epic.  It was before its time–it’s Stranger Things, UK style.  It’s Judgment Night and John Carpenter’s original Attack on Precinct 13 meets E.T., if E.T. didn’t have good intentions and Elliot wasn’t a nice little kid.

It takes a bit to warm up to the main cast of Attack the Block.  We follow a teen gang of British kids in masks led by John Boyega’s character Moses as they unabashedly and violently mug a nurse named Sam, played by Jodie Whittaker.  From the beginning Whittaker’s Sam really is the only person in the film we are completely sympathetic toward, despite efforts of the writer to get viewers to understand this gang of kids.  We almost get to the point of sympathy for the others once Sam decides she may very well be killed by aliens if she does not join up with the gang, and this film takes a swing at answering the question: “Under what situation would a victim, however reluctantly, join up with her attacker?”  Violent alien beast invasion, of course!  Despite playing the thug, Boyega had charisma even early on and it’s understandable why he has his own band of followers.  He gets in over his head dealing with a slightly older drug kingpin who “owns the block” and takes the kid under his wing for a drug sale.  His followers are a motley sort. Along with a pair of much younger kids that add some comic relief, and an additional wandering, stoned teenager, they must come together to fight the gang leader and worse—the onslaught of big hairy aliens.

The scarf of a future Doctor!  Jodie Whittaker in Attack the Block.

Six years later, Attack the Block easily holds its own.  For alien invasion film fans, it offers one of the best aliens of any 21st century production–big or low budget—giant dark, furry beasts built like hybrid gorilla/buffalos, with phosphorescent blue fangs, able to leap and spring and climb buildings.  We don’t ever see clear views of these creatures, and that mystery and an overall lack of gore throughout the movie helps form the mystique of these creatures–think the uncertainty of when the shark appears next in Jaws–and it makes them just plain scary as they chase their targets down hallways and up buildings.  They aren’t hive-minded aliens from Alien or conniving predators as in Predator, but they don’t need to be.

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You really can’t beat waking up to the biggest entertainment news of the year.  Yesterday the BBC teased that we’d see a reveal of the next Doctor on Doctor Who, the 13th Doctor, to take over for the lead role of the iconic 54-year science fiction franchise currently played by Peter Capaldi.  After the men’s Wimbledon final today, the BBC released the big news:  Finally, the BBC is breaking new ground, for the first time casting an actress as the next Doctor–a woman in the role played previously by 13 men on television (counting unnumbered War Doctor John Hurt), and not only a woman, but a great genre actress at that–35-year-old Jodie Whittaker, who hails from West Yorkshire.

Whittaker is best known for her starring role along with Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ John Boyega in the science fiction cult classic Attack the Block.  She also was featured in the great British ghost story series Marchlands and most recently in the drama Broadchurch.  Replacing Doctor Who’s showrunner Steven Moffat is the previously announced Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall.  Whittaker said in an announcement today, “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey – with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet….  It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor.  It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope.  I can’t wait.”

When David Tenant regenerated into Matt Smith for Smith to become the eleventh Doctor on the series, Smith’s Doctor initially thought he was female because of his hair, teasing fans a bit and planting the seed for a gender change to be coming in the near future.  “I’m a girl!” he shouted.  Also, the addition of a female Master (Michelle Gomez) in recent seasons helped prepare viewers for the change.

Check out yesterday’s teaser, followed by the big reveal:

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colossal-creature

Many think kaiju movies–Asian giant monster flicks featuring Godzilla, Mothra, and the like–are comedic in their own right.  Right or wrong, at some point a worldwide disaster apparently brings along its own laughs.  Melodramas, rampaging monsters, usually devoid of a solid plot, kaiju still claims millions of loyal members in its fan base.

A new U.S. film with the look of a J.J. Abrams Cloverfield production or even Attack the Block is coming your way in 2017.  Colossal, screening at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, is a monster movie, but probably more of a parody of the giant beasty films.  It’s close enough that the company owning the right to the actual Godzilla movies sued the filmmakers of Colossal during production (a confidential settlement was reached in 2015).  Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway stars as a rather ordinary woman who happens to have a psychic connection with a giant monster ripping apart the streets of Seoul, South Korea.

colossal-2

Is there an audience for a Godzilla meets Being John Malkovich mash-up?

Take a look at this trailer for Colossal:

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10-Cloverfield-Lane-Poster

Chances are you skipped 10 Cloverfield Lane when it hit theaters this March 11.  It was one of those movies with a cryptic trailer.  In a world where trailers typically give too much away, this one left you thinking John Goodman was some kind of rescuer of two others in a dystopian underground quonset hut.  But once you’ve seen it, you realize you were better off not having an explanation.  Why?  Spoilers.  10 Cloverfield Lane is now available on Blu-ray, pay cable and streaming services.

It’s the ultimate horror story.  A woman, played by fan favorite Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a smart and resourceful role, wrecks her car and awakens tied to a post in an underground bunker with two men.  The older man, played expertly by John Goodman in a performance that would have garnered him an Oscar nod a decade ago (think Kathy Bates in Misery), claims that the outside world is gone, victim to a chemical attack.  Maybe it’s the Russians.  Maybe it’s aliens.  Maybe he’s a psycho.  Or maybe its zombies.  But we know the movie has the word Cloverfield in the title and is produced by J.J. Abrams, so what’s really going on here?  Does it have anything at all to do with J.J. Abrams’s 2008 monster movie Cloverfield or not?  Is there some sci-fi element lurking around the next corner?  Or is it just a street address, much like Abrams includes the name Kelvin in all his movies?

All will be revealed in time.

Winstead Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane is an expertly paced mystery, plunging you into the question “what genre is this movie?”  It’s that question that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last scene.  Fans of M. Night Shyamalan movies will fit right in here, and at times you get the feeling that Shyamalan is somewhere behind the scenes.  When is the revelation coming?  Who is telling the truth?

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StarWarsEpisodeVII copyright lucasfilm 2014

Does a picture tell a thousand words?

Lucasfilm released today the slate of the main cast for Star Wars: Episode VII and the above photo.  Writer/Director/Producer J.J Abrams (top center right) with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and writer Lawrence Kasdan.  Defying the convention of not wearing the band shirt to the concert is our favorite gentle giant Peter Mayhew sporting a rebel-logo golf shirt.

The studio previously revealed the new film would take place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, but considering nearly the entire main cast for the original trilogy is in England’s Pinewood Studios for this cast read-through, the idea that they will be trivial to the story seems to be out the window.  And after a lot of eyeball-rolling from fans across the globe, this is starting to get a bit exciting.

Maybe we were looking at this wrong.  Disney let Marvel Studios make some good movies with The Avengers, Iron Man, and Captain America, right?  And J.J. Abrams made two Star Trek movies that could easily fit in the Star Wars universe.  Heck–they could have served as auditions for getting this directorial gig.  Lawrence Kasdan is one of the best moviemakers ever, with Silverado and The Empire Strikes Back in his portfolio.  You cannot say enough about John Williams, back yet again for another score.  And George Lucas was solely responsible for the prequel trilogy. ‘Nuff said there.  But we won’t let Disney off the hook until they prove that they won’t ruin the greatest franchise of all time.

Ming the Merciless Von Sydow

But more details were released.  Max Von Sydow, Emperor Ming from the 1980s Flash Gordon, will have a key role in the film.  Recall the original Flash Gordon serials inspired Lucas’s original vision.  Von Sydow is perfect for a role here–right up there with classic Star Wars veterans Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, and Christopher Lee.  The original R2-D2 actor will be back, too: Kenny Baker will return as the guy in the droid suit, joining Anthony Daniels as C-3PO.

It’s fanboy speculation time…

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Numbercruncher

“Dying young, a brilliant Mathematician discovers a way to cheat the terrifying Divine Calculator.  He schemes to be endlessly reincarnated in the life of the woman he loves, no matter how often the violent bailiffs of the Karmic Accountancy cut short each life.”  

Yet the delivery of this quirky story is delivered through the voice of a foul-mouthed British thug in such a way that it… actually works.  Numbercruncher asks questions involving the biggest topics of life and death yet balances humor and despair in a pretty stunning and imaginative way.

Bastard Zane is a thug.  A dead thug.  He speaks in the local accents of the street kids in Attack the Block or Daniel Craig in Layer Cake, and could easily fit into the crime noir world of Road to Perdition.  And he’s experiencing the real afterlife, not one of angels and pearly gates, but of accountants running the grand show—it’s like the worst case scenario for those afraid of tax men and accountants: heaven is run by numbercrunchers.  Writer Si Spurrier quickly gives us his set up in a way that puts this story alongside the afterlife treatments of Steven Spielberg’s Always, Albert Brooks’s Defending Your Life or even the Philip K. Dick-inspired The Adjustment Bureau–and far better than Jerry Zucker’s Ghost.  And then he proceeds to let his characters chase each other down.

Numbercruncher page

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My Yang interior panel 1

At first look at Mickey Lam’s detailed cityscape panels you’ll wonder why he isn’t drawing a regular monthly series.  His first comic book is the black and white Mr. Yang Fights Aliens, Part 1.  By day Mr. Yang is a schoolteacher.  One evening he is awakened in his Peckham neighborhood and observes a kidnapping–a kidnapping of a homeless man by an insectoid alien race.  Can this schoolteacher, who would rather work on balancing his own life issues, like keeping ahead of work and finding a girlfriend, save the world?

Lam is a self-taught illustrator based in London.  He has a degree in biomedical materials and was a secondary school science teacher before committing to illustration work.  In addition to creating art for clients, he creates his own comic books to experiment with his style and improve his skills.  Lam’s cityscapes in particular will appeal to fans of Moritat–DC Comics’ Jonah Hex series artist.

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When I think of good British sci-fi B-movies, one film comes to mind: the 1985 alien vampire sci-fi horror flick Lifeforce.  Now I can add last year’s alien invasion film Attack the Block.  You can rent, stream or stumble upon the random cable TV B-movie and you may never find one you can make it all the way through.  Sometimes bad is bad.  Then you begin watching something like Attack the Block and you find your head spinning saying to yourself “hey, this isn’t half bad–is anyone else seeing this?”  Not since the bizarre but engrossing Lifeforce have I seen a British sci-fi B-movie that, despite making me wonder how anyone ever got this film made, it forced me to watch the movie straight-through.  I had to see where this tale was going and where it would all end because there was something compelling about this crazy show.  Think of it as John Carpenter’s original Attack on Precinct 13 meets E.T., if E.T. didn’t have good intentions and Elliot wasn’t a nice little kid.  Guilty pleasure?  That probably is the right description.  And it is a bit of what I had hoped Cowboys and Aliens would be, but this is much better than that big budget effort.

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By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

I love to rank the movies that I’ve seen every year.  I also love to have caveats like this list doesn’t include Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Martha Marcy may Marlene, or Hugo as I haven’t seen them yet and I want to do so.

I rank the movies as I see them and try to figure out where they fit in the whole spectrum of the movies that I’ve seen over the year.  I toyed with showing the top five, then the top ten, then the top sixteen, and then I said, screw it, I’ll just give you the whole list so that you can see it in its full context.  You can see what I see and how they rank against each other in my mind.  One slight mathematical type note – don’t think of this list as a normal distribution.  It could be skewed left or right depending on your vantage point, and in this case has more movies toward the quality side and that have definite cool moments.

So, without further ado, here is my list of movies in the order that I enjoyed them and that I saw released in 2011.

  • Midnight in Paris
  • Melancholia
  • Thor
  • Attack the Block
  • Captain America
  • The Guard
  • Young Adult
  • Shame
  • The Artist
  • Insidious
  • Cedar Rapids
  • Rango
  • Bridesmaids
  • Tree of Life
  • Hanna
  • Submarine
  • 13 Assassins
  • Paranormal Activity 3
  • Win Win
  • Drive
  • The Descendants
  • The Trip
  • X-Men: First Class
  • Everything Must Go
  • The Adjustment Bureau
  • Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
  • Source Code
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams
  • Paul
  • Unknown
  • Moneyball
  • Contagion
  • Super 8
  • Sucker Punch
  • Hall Pass
  • Cowboys and Aliens
  • I Saw the Devil
  • Horrible Bosses

If I were making a list of the top ten movies of the year to nominate for the Best Picture Oscars (announced Tuesday, January 24th at 5:30 am PT) I’d take the first ten movies. 

However, knowing that superhero movies, action movies, comedies, animated films and horror movies rarely, if ever, get nominated, here is the list of what I would say are the ten best films of 2011 that I think deserve a best picture Academy Award nomination and would have a realistic chance at earning one.

  • Midnight in Paris
  • Melancholia
  • The Guard
  • Young Adult
  • Shame
  • The Artist
  • Tree of Life
  • Hanna
  • Submarine
  • Win Win

(Yes, I know that Hanna is pretty much an action movie and Submarine is a darn funny comedy, but they seem like nominated films more than Attack the Block and Bridesmaids.  Also, I’m not paying attention to release date and box office gross, which means it may be even less realistic than just eliminating certain genres of films.)

So, that’s it?  That’s all that I have to say?  It wouldn’t be much of an essay then as it is mainly just two lists.  I think you can find out just about anything you want to find out about the movies by just looking for them online.  You can also find better prognostications as far as the movies most likely to be nominated.  (Hint: The Descendants and Moneyball.)  So, what I’ll give you instead to wrap up the year 2011 in movies is a list of the great moments of these films.  I’ll avoid spoilers and just give you hints of the awesome in no particular order.

Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson meeting for the first time in The Guard.  At the beginning of this movie, Don Cheadle’s character holds a meeting for the police force of a small Irish town to give them more information of a drug-smuggling ring.  The interaction between these two great actors had to have been one of the funniest things I saw all year.

Dancing in The Artist.  I went to see this movie with my good friend Kelvin and we agreed that though we didn’t laugh much, when we left the theater we knew that we had been smiling to ourselves in the dark for the past two hours.  The scenes where Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo danced were the ones that made me smile the most.

The meeting in the garage between Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks in Drive.  I’m a big fan of Breaking Bad.  I’m also a big fan of Albert Brooks, going all the way back to Real Life and Modern Romance.  When these two are in a scene together, you know both have the chops for comic acting and now you can add Brooks to Cranston as far as dramatic acting as well.

Charlize Theron sitting down to write at her computer in Young Adult.  Every time Charlize sat down to write in this film, it struck home.  The struggle to sometimes find inspiration and to reward yourself with a distraction for limited reasons I think parallel anyone that has ever sat and tried to do something creative.

The invention of a meteor distance device by the son in Melancholia.  Picking a moment from this movie is tough, there are cool visuals, there are moments that break your heart and there are parts that are darkly funny.  However, seeing Keifer Sutherland exude so much pride over his son’s invention and the knowledge that we have as an audience makes that moment just about perfect.

The Wire references in Cedar Rapids.  Isiah Whitlock Jr. played Senator Clay Davis in The Wire, you know, that show that all your friends tell you to watch once they’ve seen it.  Well, that show exists in Cedar Rapids and the references they make to it using Isiah made me smile as a fan of both this movie and that awesome TV show.

The meetings between the young kids and the nurse in Attack the Block.  It’s been a bit since I saw the movie, but one thing I liked was the relationship that developed between the kids on the block and the nurse that they accost at the beginning of the movie.  The moviemakers gave it time to develop and because of that, the relationship worked instead of being a cliché.

The battle in 13 Assassins.  It’s a battle for a town with samurais. It may be sacrilege for me to say it, but I think it may top the same scene from Seven Samurai.

The scene about Jeremy Brown in Moneyball.  They use real minor league footage for this scene and it is the one that truly moved me from this whole movie. It was at this point that the characters played by Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt (as Peter Brand and Billy Beane) finally connected with me.

Any scene with the rotating camera in Paranormal Activity 3.  I don’t care what people think of the Paranormal Activity movies.  They spook me out.  The addition of the camera that rotates so that you lose sight of parts of the house heightened my scared anticipation every time they cut to it.

Those are my ten.  Let me know if you have any that you’d add to my list.

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