Review: Attack The Block

This lively British comedy horror sets up a conflict between ferocious alien invaders and a teenage hoody gang on a south London estate. It's a nice fresh angle but who are you supposed to root for?

The movie was like watching a Man Utd v Chelsea match – impressive in many ways but mostly unenjoyable because you know that it is not possible for both of them to lose.

Sometime 6Music DJ and one time half of the Adam and Joe show Joe Cornish is making his movie debut and shows considerable promise.

The cast are a mix of first timers and experienced pros but they are seamlessly integrated and uniformly strong. The Stockwell/Brixton locations are really well shot – realistic but not oppressively so. The story is skilfully told – notice the way a small detail is planted almost unnoticed only to become important at a vital juncture.

It is being pushed as the next Shaun of the Dead but I wouldn't say that it was as funny, though it is certainly impressive in terms of fusing a gang movie with an alien invasion film.

Cornish's boldest, and most contentious, move though is to introduce the gang of five 'uves' who will be the film's main protagonists in a scene in which they mug a young nurse.

Some may view this as a disastrous miscalculation and that whatever they did afterwards they would never be anything else than scum. Now I would have to say that I don't think that such a view appreciates how skilfully the film tries to deal with this. The

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plot offers up a careful balance of retribution and enlightenment.

Having said that, many youth films have the moment where the misunderstood bully opens up and reveals his torment. The kids here are so very young you ought to be able to summon up some empathy, but the language and manners of their gangsta pose is so ugly and alien that the little shafts of humanity that are revealed seem almost fraudulent.

If you start off holding a knife in a young woman's face then no matter what you subsequently manage in the way of saving the world from space invasion, your redemptive arc just isn't going to curl.

Attack The Block (15)

Director: Joe Cornish

With: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway, Alex Ismail, Leeon Jones and Nick Frost

Length: 87 mins