Attack the Block
Release Date: December 1
Filmgoers will be familiar with the idea of aliens invading an unsuspecting earth. But has E.T. ever selected so unaccommodating a landing site as a block of British council flats?
Attack The Block opens with arrival of a meteor crashing into parkland near one of London’s shadier districts. The rock turns out to be an egg of sorts and the inhabitant is soon terrorizing the neighbourhood. This, though, is usually the job of a bunch of young hoodlums and they take the interference personally. To begin with its arrival has interrupted their mugging of Sam, a young nurse on her way home from work. However the decision to beat the beast to death leads to something their bravado can’t cope with: a full-scale invasion. It seems they’ve interrupted a breeding cycle and the significantly larger males of the species are determined to track them down. When they decide to take refuge in the apartment block in which they live, they’re thrown back into the company of the nurse they robbed. Can their mutual need to survive overcome her understandable mistrust?
Sam: Get out of my … flat! I said, get out!
Moses: Yo, snitch. Calm yourself. This ain’t about you no more.
Sam: Come anywhere near me, and I swear I will scream this … block down!
Jerome: There’s worse things out there to be scared of than us, tonight! Trust it!
Dennis: Hey, bruv. I saw her ID card thing. She’s a nurse, innit?
Pest: Help me, then! I need this leg. I need it to be able to run away from them things!
Sam: You think I’m going to help you? After you attacked me and robbed me, and then set those dogs on the police?
Dennis: Yes to the first two, no to the last one.
Pest: Dogs? What kind of dogs those? Dogs with no eyes? Dogs the size of gorillas? You think them things are dogs? Go out there and try feeding them some Pedigree Chum! They’re ALIENS, luv!
Attack The Block is a black comedy from the team who delivered Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. It’s quintessentially British in its understated laughs and gritty take on life. The leader of the local hoodlums, a boy called Moses, is doing his best to lead his crew to a promised land that doesn’t contain vicious beasts. However he learns quite quickly from the mouth of a friend that, “Actions have consequences, Moses.” He may be distressed by the scale of the alien retribution, but there’s no doubting he brought it on himself. And can he really complain if Sam, his erstwhile ally, wants nothing to do with him?
For all it’s running, jumping and indecipherable jargon, Attack The Block is more than a just an alien action flick. There is a fair bit of swearing to cope with – this is down and out London after all – but the Christian link between our actions and our fate is there for all to see.
It’s a Knockout
Distributor: Channel 10
Release Date: Sundays, 6:30 PM
Three men in ostrich suits racing on children’s bicycles around a padded stadium for the opportunity to jump at a rubber worm. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, television doesn’t get much better than this.
It’s A Knockout is Network Ten’s family game show aimed at stealing a march on the other networks for the Sunday night audiences. Teams from around Australia compete in a series of absurd events – imagine youth group games for adults – usually dressed in a series of oversized polystyrene suits. Events include riding an inflatable dinghy down a slide and leaping on to a giant floating cracker, dressing up as a giant frog and feeding blow-flies to a flying team mate, and getting dressed while hanging from a chin-up bar over a moving conveyer belt. But to the winner goes the spoils: a chance for the top team to donate $15,000 to the charity of their choice.
It’s A Knockout may look like the simplest television concept but it has a pedigree that rivals the biggest names in television. The series was first conceived in France in 1965 as The Game Without Frontiers and was a staple on British television right up until 2001. It’s also graced the Australian airwaves as both It’s A Knockout and Almost Anything Goes in the 70s and 80s before finally returning to TV in its present form. However Aussie the content, though, the current series has to be filmed in Malaysia. Not only does it save the producers on the costs associated with building the venues, the Courier Mail reports it also dodges Australia’s more restrictive personal liability laws.
On one level It’s A Knockout is just good, clean fun. It’s hard not to laugh as people dress up as giant power plugs and try and shove their heads into wall sockets. There’s even a moral component that’s worth appreciating. The entire program is an exercise in humility, both for the competitors and a sometimes overblown Australian sporting industry. The selection of HG Nelson as one of the hosts is inspired. His determination to treat each event like an actual sport and commentate accordingly is a brilliant satire of televised sport in general. But if there’s one thing HG can’t make funny, it’s the funding arrangements.
It’s A Knockout involves four teams – Lifesavers from Queensland, Paramedics from New South Wales, Firefighters from Victoria … and the McDonalds team. Maccas has gone one step further than simply sponsoring the program; it has bought its way on to the set. Now, this is not the first time a company has done this: Adidas has funded reality style soccer programs and Burger King teamed up with the creators of The Family Guy to create Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy. But giving the sponsors an actual team, and raising them to the same level as local heroes would be silly if it weren’t so embarrassing.
Beyond that, though, It’s A Knockout represents a total mismatch of product and company. McDonalds might have got away with a close association with caring programs like RPA or Pet Rescue, but a show promoting healthy, sporting fun? It’s no surprise the one thing you won’t see around the ‘Knockadome’ are pictures of Big Macs and fries. Frankly, McDonalds trying to convince TV audiences that it’s the champion of fitness is on par with banks attempting to tell us they only exist to further our dreams. To quote HG, “It doesn’t get any funnier – or stupider – than this.”
Review by Mark Hadley