Attack the Block

Joe Cornish's hoodies vs aliens flick gears up to invade a Blu-ray player near you

As far as movie taglines go ‘Inner city vs outer space’ is pretty damn snappy. Incredibly comedian-turned-filmmaker Joe Cornish has delivered a debut movie that more than lives up to it. 

Attack the Block isn’t just the best British genre film since Shaun of the Dead, it’s the best genre film I’ve seen in a very long time. Not only is this tale of hoodies versus alien invaders packed with enough knowing references to other great monster movies to bring a smile to any fan, but Cornish is smart enough to know that his film ultimately has to stand on its own legs. And thanks to the intelligent scripting, nuanced characters, excellent performances, superb gags and slick action scenes it more than succeeds in that regard – clearly signposting this exuberant genre mash-up as the arrival of one of British cinema’s most exciting new talents.

Picture: Attack the Block leaps on to Blu-ray with a very cinematic AVC 2.40:1 1080p hi-def encode. Colour reproduction in particular is very strong, and while the inky blacks are often lacking in shadow detail, it’s clearly intended to look this way – as Cornish himself confirms in one of the extra features, stating ‘The director of photography and I went to great lengths to light the film with a view to crushing the contrast in post-production so that it became like comic book panels’. While some might quibble that this has a (slight) knock-on effect on the Blu-ray’s ability to resolve fine detail and textures, it’s hard to complain when it’s what the director wanted.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: While the film might not have had a massive budget, the sound design ensures that it always feels like a much bigger movie than it really is – a prime example being the sequence in Chapter 9 beginning with fireworks being let off down a hallway and then following the gang members through the smoke filled space where they can only navigate by sound. But the disc’s sublime DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix also succeeds away from the set-pieces, and particular praise should be given to the excellent dialogue presentation that ensures perfect clarity in all of the varied accents on offer.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: This Double Play release comes stacked with top-notch extras, plus a bonus DVD copy of the film itself. Three audio commentaries provide plenty of info about the making of the film and, surprisingly enough, don’t spend too much time repeating each other. The ‘Junior Commentary’ finds writer-director Joe Cornish joining some of the younger cast members for a chat about making the film, the ‘Senior Commentary’ finds him doing the same with some of the older cast members, while the ‘Executive Producer Commentary’ teams with Edgar Wright for a fascinating chat about the challenges of making your first movie. As good as the commentaries are though, it’s hard not to feel sorry for lead actor John Boyega who contributes to both cast commentaries, but is omitted from the list of participants for both on the menu.

When you get through those, there’s still more to digest, kicking off with the very entertaining 59min Behind the Block behind-the-scenes documentary. Then there’s still the superior 20min featurette about the film’s aliens, a four-min featurette about the young cast, Cornish discussing two un-filmed action scenes illustrated with storyboards, a pair of trailers and a compilation clip of the cast rapping. And all of these video extras are also presented in hi-def.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: This dazzling alien invasion flick gets a suitably spectacular Blu-ray package.

Optimum Releasing, Region B BD/R2 DVD, £23 approx, On sale now