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Mark Kermode | 13:07 UK time, Tuesday, 26 April 2011

After years of purveying comedic whimsy drawn from his childhood pop culture obsessions Joe Cornish has stepped up a gear with his directorial debut Attack the Block, a science fiction action adventure that draws on his childhood pop culture obsessions.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I'm awaiting this film with mixed emotions. If it's really good, Joe may disappear to Hollywood & never come back to do anymore Adam & Joe radio shows.


  • Comment number 2.

    I use to like Shaun of the Dead quite a lot, I think it's horribly dated and has not aged well, Hot Fuzz was rubbish to be honest, the best Edgar Wright has done and probably ever do is Scott Pilgrim which was fantastic.

  • Comment number 3.

    Having watched the trailers emerge the past few months this looks like Kidulthood (a film I rate quite highly) crossed with something made by CBBC, with a cameo by Nick Frost.

    I have to say it just looks & sounds a bit cringeworthy; not mention parading a selection of stereotypes of ‘Sarf London yoof’ and also appears to glorify gang culture.

    If they’ve tried to put some of the best moments into the trailers it just doesn’t look funny, scary or exciting.

  • Comment number 4.

    I hope it does well enough for Joe C. to get at least another crack of the whip. I've appreciated his comedy, but it's always good for someone to break free of the schtick that made their name. As good as toy and Star Wars action figures may be, it would be tragic for all if they'd continue that ad infinitum.

    On another note, I wonder if conflict will ever breakout between podcast listeners, I can see a crowded cinema with dueling groups shouting STEPHEN and HELLO JASON ISAACS at each other.

  • Comment number 5.

    @Ian Schultz, I respect your opinion about Shaun, but I really can't see how it's dated. 7 years old, made on a small budget, I think it looks like it was made yesterday.

    On topic, I'm quite looking forward to this one.

  • Comment number 6.

    I've got to say I don't rate Shaun of the Dead that highly, I found the mix of horror and comedy quite jarring, it just didn't sit right to go from something actually pretty nasty to something light and funny. Hot Fuzz's mix of action and comedy I found much better.

    Apparently Joe Cornish asked the audience at the SXSW festival (in the US) if they had trouble understanding the characters in the film, and the response was a resounding No, but the distributors have their concerns.

    @jayfurneaux - The kids in the film are all first-time actors and are, I gather, pretty much 'playing themselves', so I don't think they're really stereotypes. I have heard that the 'hoodies as heroes' issue is not as problematic as you might think.

    I imagine they have put all the funniest bits in the trailer, which is why it looks like a comedy, so it'll be interesting to see how differently the film itself compares.

  • Comment number 7.


    .....Just coming!

  • Comment number 8.

    "Like all professional men of the time, Paul snorts a line of cocaine washed down with champagne, then douses himself with aftershave before setting off for work... on his Sinclair C5." - Joe Cornish, The 1980's House

  • Comment number 9.

    I have high hopes and have heard mixed reviews (although mixed positive going from fantastic to pretty good and none actually saying it was a bad film) but it's Joe Cornish, I'll be handing my money over regardless.

    Also I like the non-traditional aliens (or what the seem to be like in the trailers) they look like they could well be a non-humanoid (well one of the less insane ones from Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.

    Very excited about Tintin and Antman as well.

  • Comment number 10.

    Despite having watched Shaun Of The Dead many times thanks to that second image i just noticed that the zombie in the bottom left is Tyers from Spaced.

  • Comment number 11.

    Shaun of the Dead is, and will always be in my eyes, one of the best British films ever made, particularly in the comedy genre. If I ever find a film that matches its pure brilliance, I may have found one of the best films of all time.

    Having said that, since seeing the trailers over the past few months, I haven't been swayed to go see Attack the Block. I simple love the Kidulthood/Adulthood series, and love the gritty social realism pieces such as Bullet Boy and, however, mixing these sorts of films with sci-fi just seems to have "WHY?!" written all over it.

    However, I will pass judgement when I get around to seeing it very soon...

  • Comment number 12.

    Really looking forward to this. Mr Kermode is notoriously difficult to please, so I suppose a mixed review from him would translate into a good review elsewhere. I have no problems with the urban setting or the characters, coming as I do from a council estate. For me, that's a plus. I'm not looking to be scared out of my mind or end up missing something from laughing too hard - a bit of a nerdish giggle and a few good jumps will suffice, ta.

  • Comment number 13.

    These immediate responses are always interesting!

    As for the film... It seems like a fun watch.

  • Comment number 14.


    Is that compared to other spin offs from sitcoms such as Bean (the movie) and Holiday On The Buses or against the whole library of British cinema?

  • Comment number 15.

    I can't help but be reminded of all the awful brit-gangster films that came out in the wake of 'Lock Stock' a few years ago. It seems, after the success of Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz there's been a wave of sub-par british genre-spoof films such as Lesbian Vampire Killers or FAQ About Time Travel.

    Therefore, I'm predicting that Attack the Block will be the 'Layer Cake' to Shaun's 'Lock Stock' ie: mildly succesful, not terrible but easily forgettable.

    PS:@IanSchultz @BruceTenmile Any film that features people smoking in pubs looks dated now :(

  • Comment number 16.

    Ok, I have a major problem with this film...

    I have lived in London all my life and it WAS truly wonderful to know when I was growing up and until recently that you had this vast range of cultures in this city. For me it made it stand out as a really wonderful, different city to anywhere else I had travelled to. I grew up on a council estate in East London so I didn't shirk all the danger and strife either and had to really fight to get out of there when I was trying to make a life for myself.

    Now this new 'gang culture' has been around for a while now and although I am not a fan of the 'slang' element especially, I do acknowledge that it is part of London's culture as I was saying previously. I understand that cultures change and evolve and it is expected. I just don't like this one as it seems to be taking over as the 'main' culture and sort of eclipsing all the rest. Kids everywhere are now adopting this speech because of what they see on TV, which basically due to the Kidulthood/Adulthood films and now this, they seem to think this is the ONLY way to speak if you are a youth in this city.

    I can't stand that now in British film, this is the only way kids are portrayed and also that it is extending into parts and cultures of London that never used these traits 5-6 years ago. When I visit home now, I hear this kind of 'slang' everywhere whereas 10 years ago, if you spoke or acted in this made up voice (which it is by the way, you don't hear kids under 10 speak like this and then suddenly, they reach puberty and they actually put on the voice), you were either considered a bit of an idiot or the sort of person that you don't mess with and either way, you generally left them alone to do their stuff.

    Film and TV are glorifying this culture now ahead of any other in a city which still has a vast range of cultures and are ignoring a lot of other youth cultures in this city for mainstream use and it sickens me. More and more kids everywhere are adopting this 'slang' and I think British film's need to use only this side of London culture is helping this along and kind of destroying the idea of different cultures across the capital. It is also making people from across the country and abroad think this is the only way youngsters talk in the capital and so more of these films get made every week because of that.

    I loved The Adam and Joe show and have followed him into film where I have seen him now share film credits with Spielberg and Jackson which has pleased me. But as soon as I saw the trailer for his new film, I just felt he has now just sold out. It feels like he has latched onto this need to glorify this way of youth culture only in order to get noticed as a young British director. I kind of understand why in this cut-throat industry because sometimes its necessary to do such things to get noticed and to improve your career status. It still disappoints me that it is him though and not another 'yoof culture' director making this film. I felt he had something much better in him than the 'gang culture' film, even if it is a sci-fi too which is more his thing and the genre I was probably hoping from him instead of the hybrid he has made here.

  • Comment number 17.

    @full metal jackson

    It's strange you say that as I've recently rewatched Lock Stock, Snatch and Layer Cake, I've also just watched Revolver and Rock n Roller (both utterly awful) I've also seen Sexy Beast. The Business and a whole load more Brit gangster/crime capers that I've probably forgotten.

    The Guy Ritchie films have aged terribly IMHO, The recent ones have been an utter waste of time; excluding Sherlock Holmes which is exempt anyway.

    Of the late 90's - 00's films like that the only two that stand out to me as decent, and worth watching again and again are Layer Cake and Sexy Beast.

    IMHO, again, Layer Cake (probably due to the Vaughn link) comes across as the polished final product that the other films were heading towards.

  • Comment number 18.

    As a person who has worked extensively with London youth, what did come across was how natural the performances were of the young actors; they were very true to the bravado shown by many.

  • Comment number 19.


    That's interesting, I agree that Sexy Beast is the one turn of the century brit gangster film that warrants repeat viewing so maybe I should give Layer Cake a rewatch.

    I should mention that the day I saw Layer Cake was the day after I watched Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes, which is undoubtedly my favourite british film of the last decade, so perhaps Layer Cake seemed, at the time, weaker than it actually is. I'll give it another go.

  • Comment number 20.

    @ Tony

    I agree with you there mate. Although I don't come from London (Lancashire-man currently at uni in Wales) I get where your coming from as I hear the constant 'street' talk when I go into the town centre of places.
    I'm now starting to develop a distaste for social realism (comedy or drama) mainly because I find it annoying. Me and my mates on uni course have named the modern day kitchen sink drama such as Kidulthood and whatever it's wake as 'chav-ploitation' - A term most fitting really as I'm not a fan of todays youth culture or today's youth as a matter fact. I think when I see something like this "I know there's gun/knife crime on the streets in cities. I know there's drugs. I know there's prostitutes. I know there's teenage mums living in grubby flats. It's on the news every bloody day." Perhaps because I'm a 22 year old with the thoughts of a 40 year old or I'm far more into surrealism and what makes us tick, but I just can't find any enjoyment in modern day social realism. It's only Shane Meadows who I feel does anything different with the genre. Paddy Considine walking around in a gas mask killing people off in Dead Man Shoes is brilliant (well up until the ending) as it has a sense of the surreal about it. Then of course This Is England which is the best British film certainly in the last 10 years. I'm not going to go see Attach the Block as I've watched the trailer and find the characters annoying.

  • Comment number 21.


    You talk of "chav-sploitation" - a stupid phrase if ever I've heard one - but Noel Clarke's films were looking at the situation from the perspective of those who are involved in the situation, not the outsider perspective you get from the news media. Whether you find their content distateful or not, they were authentic, not exploitative. ATB isn't going for social realism, just presenting a protagonist you rarely see in British sci-fi films, which have tended towards having heroes from the middle classes in the past.

  • Comment number 22.

    It would be interesting if someone actually from a South London estate made a horror film rather than good old boys that went to school with Nick Clegg and Louis Theroux turning them into figures of fun so that other disapproving Hoi-Polloi can be outraged by the idea of glorifying a working-class protagonist. Victorian prostitutes and thiefs are great, but not ones that live down the road from us.

  • Comment number 23.

    Mark, it's been 2 months I'm trying to get your direct email contact, I need to discuss directly with you about an editorial project I'm currently setting up, and I want your testimony for skiffle-related sections. But it seems that your privacy is even more protected than Obama's, tried to chance and rung everywhere, impossible to get a direct contact. I now stand by you. Please drop me a word directly to
    sylvain / switzerland

  • Comment number 24.

    '....I don't rate Shaun of the Dead that highly, I found the mix of horror and comedy quite jarring, it just didn't sit right to go from something actually pretty nasty to something light and funny..'

    @ liquidcow
    I'd say this mix of comedy and horror works pretty well. Evil Dead, anybody?

  • Comment number 25.

    I think Shaun of the Dead is a great film overall, but it always bugs me that the third act is so weak when compared to the brilliance of what's come before.

  • Comment number 26.

    I have seen the film twice and I can seriously say that in years to come it will be a cult classic. He has made the film he wanted to make and by god that is a hard thing to do. Elements of his favourite 80's films are in there too. E.T., Critters, Aliens, Predator, The Warriors and Escape From New York. I found it to be scary, funny and fantastically paced and well scripted. British Cinema has been dying for these sorts of films. I for one am tired of Kitchen Sink dramas that usually BOMB at the box office. The film is very well directed and its about KIDS facing an Alien Invasion. KIDS! Yes there are some KIDS who act and behave in a rude and threatening manner but it's good to see that Joe Cornish has a positive message in the film to both audiences.. White Middle Class people and Kids too. Amazing Post, DOP, Cast, tight as hell script and brilliant music. I loved the film the first time I saw it. By the second time I was obsessed. Honestly, A CULT CLASSIC! - Well done Joe!

  • Comment number 27.

    My thoughts on Attack the Block

  • Comment number 28.

    So basically you enjoyed Shaund of the Dead more and wanted this to be similar to it. Well I really like Chinatown but don't expect all films to be similar. Shaun and ATB are completely different - one is making fun of a genre zombie film and undermining the genrea whereas ATB is combining two different genres (aliens and gangs) in a novel and original way. Nor is it even trying to be a comedy though it has some funny scenes - it also has some serious things to say. And it is scary - I counted at least 7 jumpms out of my seat.

  • Comment number 29.

    I enjoyed ATB very much. The pacing was excellent, the characters of Moses' gang got fleshed out so they started out as a (almost literally) faceless mob but ended with each a personality of their own & the ending ending without a neat "3 months later" wrap up.

  • Comment number 30.

    Saw the film last night. I really enjoyed it. I didn't feel the need for it to be scary, maybe more gory but in a funny way but I love gore and zombie films so thats just subjective. It could have done with a few more laughs but overall the performances were excellent and it looked great. I was half expecting cringey stereotypes of Sarf London yoof as mentioned but thought the performances were very genuine. I think Joe put across the message well that they are just kids really. Look forward to more from Corn Balls.


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