Attack the Block vs Cowboys & Aliens

Went to see two movies this past weekend, in my gleefully between-deadlines free time: Attack the Block (redband trailer, note — profanity and violence), and Cowboys and Aliens. Both were movies I’d been anticipating like whoa; both were movies that promised to hit all my usual sweet spots: alien invasions, action, cleverness, stuff blowing up, Daniel Craig’s lovely ass. (What? I’m not saying that’s the only reason I went to see it.) And though I’ve been hearing good things about Attack the Block for months, I went into both movies expecting to like Cowboys and Aliens better. Because, I mean, Indiana Jones and James Bond vs aliens. What else could a girl wish for?

Total upset, though: Attack the Block was phenomenal. I cheered when it was over. I’m now begging, telling, ordering everyone I know to go see it. But Cowboys and Aliens? Meh.

I’ve been processing my reaction to these films since I saw them, and realized that the difference is simple: AtB broke every film cliche I could think of, and C&A’s entire plot was practically a paint-by-numbers adherence to cliches. I can’t really go into either film’s surprises (or non-surprises) without dwelling on spoilers, but let’s just put it this way. Within 5 minutes of C&A I could guess the entire plot, right down to who would die heroically and stereotypically for the sake of everyone else. But within 5 minutes of AtB I knew I was seeing something I’d never seen before. I had no idea where it was going, but I could tell I was about to enjoy the hell out of the ride. AtB actually made me glad I’d spent $14 to see the film in theaters. Whereas C&A made me think I probably should’ve waited to Netflix it. (Then at least I could’ve paused on a shot of Daniel Craig’s — WHAT. STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.)

So please, if you’re in one of the handful of US cities where AtB is playing, go see it. Then go see it again. Vote with your dollars for more stuff that breaks the molds, and maybe Hollywood will finally get the message that audiences crave something different. The theater was only about 1/3 full when I went to see AtB, because the film’s distributors haven’t advertised it at all, so word of mouth is going to have to do the job. This is me doing my part.

And somebody please just give John Boyega an Oscar already. This kid’s going places.

11 Responses »

  1. Cool, thanks for the glowing review of Attack the Block. I’ll have to check it out. I saw Captain America & Cowboys & Aliens over the weekend. I too had to work to not stare at Daniel Craig’s assets both front and back.

    I didn’t expect much from C&A, so I wasn’t too disappointed. Definitely seeing Attack the Block when I get the chance.

  2. Oh my god, Attack the Block looks AMAZING. I want to see that very much.

    Have been pretty meh re: cowboys v. aliens since I saw the trailer, and especially since I read the story of its origin, but I had never even heard of attack the block. This makes me sad.

  3. holy god, Daniel Craig’s ass was fine. Every time it was on screen, I marveled at it.

    Had NOT heard of Attack the Block, though. Will definitely check it out.

  4. Cameron,

    Story of its origin? ::interest piqued::

  5. Saw Attack the Block at a film festival. It was indeed of the awesome.

  6. *sigh*

    I wonder how likely it is that it’ll get out here.

    I have no desire to see CvA because, well, you already know. I just can’t watch films like that any more. So bored of them.

  7. Origin: One of the writers was mugged in Streatham, South London, and found the experience remarkably unscary and the lads wot did it pretty interesting.
    It’s been suggested that AtB should have subititles for US release (http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/news/why-drafthouse-films-should-distribute-attack-the-block.php)
    As a Londoner, I’d love to know if that’s true?

  8. Have to agree with you on CvA — very cliched and full of aliens that are supposed to be advanced enough for space travel, but are suicidally stupid when it comes to their own weapons. I went to see it, but it was one that could definitely have waited for Netflix.

    AtB looks great, though I’m not optimistic about it coming to Oklahoma theaters, more’s the pity. We eventually get some of the limited release movies, but I expect Dallas may be as close as it gets, and that’s a three hour drive.

  9. I was never particularly interested in seeing Cowboy’s vs. Aliens, but this is at least the third blog post I’ve read about it in which Daniel’s Craig’s ability to work a pair of chaps has been mentioned most lovingly. I hope Attack the Block will become available near me, though I suspect I’ll have to wait for it to come out on DVD.

  10. I just showed the AtB trailer to some friends to say it comes recommended, and they were all “Why would I want to see a movie about violent yoofs running amok on a London council estate after all that’s happened this week? Sure it’s not a doco?”

    :/

  11. Cerebral,

    I’d say they should still go see AtB if they want a better understanding of why the kids in London are running amok. Had an interesting experience the second time I went to see the film. The audience was much bigger; word of mouth had clearly been effective. But at a certain point in the film, where one of the characters complains that there’s no point in calling the police and that the police would just blame them for whatever’s happening, and that the government might even have unleashed the aliens on the neighborhood to kill black boys, the actors are conveying real anger. And a handful of people in the theater audience laughed. (This was on Sunday, before the riots began.) I suspect you wouldn’t hear any laughter if you went to see the film today.