South London nurse Jodie Whittaker must rely on the help of a bunch of stupid young thugs (who all blend together) who mugged her when their neighbourhood is besieged by nasty alien creatures. Nick Frost plays the friendly local weed grower.
Written and directed by Joe Cornish (who co-wrote the Steven Spielberg-Peter Jackson dud “The Adventures of Tintin” with Edgar Wright), this 2011 alien invasion flick seems to have a real cult following, and earned some nice reviews too. Personally, I can’t see what the fuss is about and pretty much hated it and everyone in it. Debut director Cornish (whose real-life mugging by youths helped inspire the film apparently) commits one of the most basic crimes in screenwriting; In order to care about what happens, we must first care about the characters. Either make ‘em really interesting, or make ‘em likeable. Cornish aggressively fails to do either. Young British hooligans aren’t my favourite movie characters at the best of times, but these guys aren’t even threatening enough to work as villains (same problem I had with “Harry Brown”, actually), let alone interesting enough to work as protagonists. They ride push bikes! Oh, that’s so hardcore, dude...seriously. The villains from “Die Hard” would make for better protagonists than these twits, because at least some of them commanded the screen. Yes, I said protagonists. That’s how irritating and ineffective these guys are that a villain like Hans Gruber would make for a better ‘hero’ than these idiots. For starters, I could barely understand most of the dialogue, despite them apparently speaking English. They don’t speak it, they butcher it. And it’s their native tongue. How am I supposed to care about a film where the supposed ‘good guys’ are juvenile delinquents who all talk like Ali G? Don’t people realise that was a comedy character lampooning people who talk and act stupidly? Admittedly he wasn’t actually funny, but he was certainly meant to be. For the love of God, people ‘innit’ is not a word. It’s just not, OK?.
Other films have used unsavoury-types as the protagonists before (“The Dirty Dozen” and “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” spring immediately to mind), but it doesn’t work here at all, and the slightly more interesting character played by Jodie Whittaker ends up playing second fiddle to these little “Grange Hill” maggots. In Australia, and especially the suburb I live in, street youths preying upon a young nurse and then turning out to be the heroes, is a bit hard to stomach, due to a certain brutal crime from the 80s over here, to be honest, and it was on my mind at the time.
If this film was meant to be comedic too, it’s almost entirely witless. The only laugh in the entire film comes from the sight of one of the boys armed with a machete and riding his scooter...with L plate showing. That was funny. The rest...isn’t, and things don’t even get better when the adults turn up, either. Nick Frost plays one of them, and as usual, he’s playing a seedy, unpleasant, and frankly repugnant-looking bum of a human being. I simply can’t stand the guy, even in the one film he was in that I really liked (“The Boat That Rocked”). I’m no hardcore anti-drug kinda guy, but weed movies rarely make me laugh (“The Big Lebowski” being the exception), and people who smoke weed on a regular basis don’t generally interest me very much.
I could credit Cornish for not messing around and getting right to it, but we’re talking about a brit “Boyz ‘N the Hood” meets “Critters”. It hardly seems worth it, and frankly, I wanted the aliens to win in this, and believe me, they sucked too. Cornish deserves praise for obscuring our view of the aliens for a while, when we finally do see them one realises that Cornish was hiding them because they look like cheap Halloween costumes. They look ridiculous, and since neither the protagonists nor antagonists convinced or even interested me, the film was a complete dud for me. Also, once again I have to point out the irritating coloured lighting/filters used for night scenes. At first I thought that maybe it’s just that I don’t go out at night and this is really how things look. But then I noticed that the streets are lit either orange/yellow (like a dodgy urine sample) or blue, and it’s the exact same blue lighting used on the aliens’ faces. Nope, it’s just a stylistic device and it annoys the holy hell out of me. Even worse is the nauseating ‘doof doof’ score that was so bad that I almost wished my neighbours would turn their own obnoxiously loud music up (They were playing the same crap, so it wouldn’t have mattered, I guess).
I didn’t much like “Shaun of the Dead”, and this irritating, cheapo flick is even worse, coming from the same producers too. Unlikeable, uninteresting, and unfunny. But apparently I’m in the minority. Strange, innit? Innit?