June 03, 2011

Surviving Attack the Block

Have you ever been to one of those Advanced Screenings, where you get a free pass for an upcoming movie and it turns out that they hand out way more passes than there are seats? That's how it goes the first time, and you learn that you have to get there a few hours beforehand. So the second time, you get there early enough, wait in line, watch the movie, and afterwards realize that it's totally not worth all this hassle.

That was our Wednesday night, except in this case, the movie was something we were really looking forward to that wasn't coming out until much later in the year. The movie was Attack the Block, a British sci-fi thriller about a group of kids who have to deal with an alien invasion in their neighborhood. It's the first film from Edgar Wright collaborator Joe Cornish, and Wright produced. Wright regular Nick Frost also appears. Wright? Frost? We had no choice but to go.
Erica: I arrived at the Clearview Chelsea - my favorite bedbug hotel - at around 3:30 for the 7 pm screening. There was already a line, consisting of one guy who got there at 7 am. He told me he was saving spots for five or six friends. Apparently they have a group that shares RSVP codes and tickets for these screenings, and they do several times a week. I thought that holding spots for five or six people was kind of pushing it but being that I was pretty confident that the theatre held more than ten seats, I knew I was fine. But then his friends started piling in. These were the types of people that go anywhere and everywhere for something just because it's free. They had gotten somewhere between fifty and seventy free Sobe juice drinks from a nearby giveaway spot, tapping them out completely between the half dozen of them. They also took a lot of their free T-shirts. Now, normally I wouldn't complain that someone showed up way after me and was standing in front of me in line, as I was saving a spot for Mike.

At 4:30, Mike arrived, and we were at least able to watch this unfold together. The screening was at 7pm and I was number 26 into the theatre. Yup, the '5 or 6 people' in front of me turned into 25. That wasn't even the entire group... a bunch more - equally unkempt - waited right behind me.

Mike: At one point, a middle-aged man who I thought looked pretty normal joined the group, and I thought to myself "hey, here's the first normal-looking guy." But then he stuck his hand down his underwear to adjust his himself. Nope... still a group of gross, sketchy people. He repeated the adjustment again a few minutes later, and I made sure to stay clear from him as much as possible.

Erica: What annoyed me the most about this was not so much the fact that 25 people didn't wait on line and cut in front of me (I was doing the same, albeit for just 2 people) was that all those people were there with zero interest in this movie whatsoever. Most were older and told me they only went because it was free and 'that's what they do.' It was the fact that there were a lot of people who really, truly wanted to see this movie that didn't get in due to some people who do this everyday, that's what bugged me about it. I tried telling the Sony Classics rep that they ought to get someone to keep things organized out there but they informed me that "we don't get there that early." They gave me tickets for VIP seats - intended for press - but we stayed in the seats we already got. Inside the theatre, the gang of cutters were saving seats using their shoes and socks. It was pretty gross, and I hope the theatre crew hosed down the seats once that movie was out. 

Thankfully, the movie was good. 

I thought Attack the Block was a really neat throwback to classic 80s films like Gremlins, Lost Boys and The Goonies, with some excellent characters. It's amazing how you really, really hate them at the beginning of the movie, and then slowly you go from rooting against them to rooting for them.

I agree. I went into this movie not knowing anything other than the fact that aliens were involved, it was produced by Edgar Wright and Nick Frost was in it (those reasons alone were enough for me).
Marketing this is going to be a challenge. No big stars, very British, contains violence towards children (which I think is risky but it made the movie stand out), and most importantly, it doesn't have an original idea, just a fresh take on the alien invasion concept that has been overused in Hollywood blockbusters.

Also, it's being praised to high heavens, and while it's a pretty damn good movie, one of the things it's got going for it is the fact that it's pretty simple. All this early hype will be helpful, but I can see the backlash coming from miles away. It's a fun, cool flick - very well made with some really interesting characters.  Just managing expectations...

Joe Cornish is very skillful director and I know we'll be hearing a lot more from him. The young actors in the film were all excellent, and while Nick Frost wasn't in the film very much, he was a blast. Another thing I liked was the design of the wolf-like aliens. They have a pretty simple design but nonetheless pretty menacing with massive fangs that light up. And very mysterious.

They were mysterious, and we don't learn much about them. I liked the light up fangs, I thought they were cool.

I thought the movie was a lot of fun and I think US audiences will enjoy it as well. I don't think there is a release date yet, but it should be coming out later in the year.

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