Saturday, 2 September 2017

Attack the Block (5 Stars)

The arguments have died down among Doctor Who fans over the choice of Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor. I don't think that anyone who was violently opposed to a woman being chosen for the role has changed his mind. I think people have just shouted off their initial rage. They've said all they wanted to say, and now they're sitting back to wait for the Christmas special. Even those who have angrily sworn that they'll never watch Doctor Who again will sheepishly turn on their televisions on December 25th to watch her and hope she'll fall on her face. That's the day when many of the nay-sayers will be won over.

My opinion on the matter is neutral. It depends on the way the scripts handle the change. I don't mind a female Doctor, as long as it isn't treated as a gimmick. If every second episode has her saying "I'm a woman now, so I'll <fill-in-the-blank>" I'll groan with disgust. Whatever objections are being made this side of the screen I want the Doctor's new female persona to be taken for granted within the series, as if everyone has been expecting the change for the last thousand years. The Master's new gender was dealt with perfectly. In her last few episodes we saw that Missy had decidedly female traits, but they just bubbled to the surface naturally rather than being thrust on the viewing public. That was great script-writing and excellent acting by Michelle Gomez. Is she really gone now? I hope not. She may be dead, but we shouldn't forget she was a time traveller, so her past self can still clash with the new Doctor in the future.

My only complaint about the change in Doctors is that Peter Capaldi was so good. He should have stayed longer. His first year as Doctor was weak -- all the new actors need a year to adapt to the role -- but in the following two years his performance was so strong that I consider him the best Doctor since the series relaunch in 2005. Now he's gone. That will make things difficult for Jodie Whittaker. She has big shoes to step into.

On the other hand, the series needs continuity. If Jodie is good in her role she needs to remain for as long as possible. There's been too much swapping and changing. Four Doctors in 12 years is too many. We need an actor or actress who will remain for at least ten years. When new television drama series begin in America the leading actors are required to sign a contract binding them for seven years if needed. Admittedly, not many series last that long, but there are exceptions. Imagine how long-running series would have been wrecked by an actor quitting. What if Tom Welling had walked out of "Smallville" after three years? Imagine "Supernatural" having to carry on without Jensen Ackles.

I don't know Jodie Whittaker very well. She's been in a few popular films and television series, but I've only seen her in three films: the two St. Trinian's films (small roles) and "Attack the Block". Even though she's the main female character in "Attack the Block" it's difficult to judge her. There's nothing at all wrong with her performance, but she's at a disadvantage, because she's upstaged by the kids. For most of the teenage cast it was their first film, and they're all incredibly good. Of particular note is John Boyega. He was only 17 when he was picked for the lead role in "Attack the Block", his first film, but he's gained great popularity in his subsequent films, such as "Star Wars 7". It looks like he could become England's best actor. He would also be a good choice to play the Doctor, but let Jodie do her ten years first.

"Attack the Block" was a box office failure, but I blame the distributors. Apart from the UK it was barely shown in cinemas anywhere else. It only had a limited release in the USA, but it was highly successful wherever it was shown. The distributors were too stupid to realise that they had a big hit in their hands. The critics loved it, and after a mere five years it's already considered to be a cult sci-fi classic. It's one of those films that you absolutely must see if you want to be taken seriously as a sci-fi fan.

Maybe it's the film's dubious morals that made the distributors afraid to screen the film worldwide. Were they afraid of backlash from the public? The young people in the film do bad things, but the film doesn't criticise them, and at the end they're the heroes.

Moses (John Boyega) is the 15-year-old leader of a street gang in South London. On Bonfire Night (November 5th) they rob a young nurse, Samantha Adams (Jodie Whittaker), on her way home from work. They steal her money and her phone at knife point. She's scared that it might go further, murder or rape, but they're interrupted by something falling out of the sky and she runs back home. It's an alien invasion. All over South London vicious black monsters are falling out of the sky. After Moses manages to kill one of them the others pursue him.

Moses returns home. He and his gang all live in the 19-floor high Wyndham Tower. They unite with their girlfriends and sisters. They meet Samantha again, because she also lives in the tower. Moses apologises, saying he would never have robbed her if he'd known she was his neighbour. The tower block is now being besieged by the monsters, so Samantha unites with the gang. As a nurse she treats the wounded gang members. They have guns and knives, so she accepts that they are her best chance of survival.

It's a brilliant genre-spanning film. Science fiction, horror and comedy all in one. It's a perfect balance. When you start to think it's just a comedy, someone dies a horrible death. When you start to think it's just a horror film, something hilarious happens. Why can't more films be this good?

Order from
Order from
Order from

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tick the box "Notify me" to receive notification of replies.