Blending together sci-fi, horror, action, comedy, stoners, and coming-of-age story, this is an energetic, creative, low-buget indie that is a blast to watch, and makes for quite an impressive directorial debut for Joe Cornish.
The story takes places on Guy Fawkes Night and concerns a group of rowdy, young, thuggish gang members who, after mugging an innocent woman, are confronted by an odd creature who suddenly falls from the sky. After killing it, they decide to somehow use it to make them famous so they take it to a drug dealer friend of theirs named Ron for advice. Soon after, more of these creatures begin arriving, and the film shifts into a tense story of survival as the gang hold up in their Block (apartment complex) to fend off an impending alien invasion.
Based on the premise, this could have been nothing more than a cheap and silly B-Movie creature feature. However, the film, thanks to all involved though, this is a smart, fun, and creative ride that makes the most of its limitations and actually manages to mix all the various elements together quite well, making it more of a character study that happens to involve sci-fi monsters.
The film has a cast of almost completely unknowns, save for a fun supporting role from Nick Frost as Ron. This, like many other things, works to the film's advantage, forcing a bunch of newcomers to prove themselves without getting to rely on a bunch of big names for support. They pull it off, especially John Boyega as Moses, the film's lead. I hope he has a long career ahead of him, because he shows great potential. The creature design is minimalist, almost amateurish, but that's okay becuase the creatures also have a unique look to them, namely their luminescent fangs. It also helps that the film takes the less is more approach and doesn't over do it by showing them too often with complete clarity.
For a film about aliens, the film actually has a strong plot, and one where the aliens aren't really the full focus. It's about a group of characters who are not at all likeable, but because of various circumstances and situations, are given a legitimate chance to redeem themselves, learn a lesson, and change in a way that doesn't come off as forced or unnatural. Seriously. The characters are introduced in the worst way possible, and the film actually takes some time before they start to change. More films need to take note of stuff like this.
The film has decent writing, surpringly assured direction, and a great sense of style. The cinematography is pretty nice, and like I keep saying, the film is creative with how it tells its story. The thick accents and the slang are perhaps a tad overdone and take some getting used to, but they don't render the film incomprehensible. If you pay attention to context, you can figure out things fairly quickly.
I said the writing was decent, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. I mean, with a film like this, you do have to suspend disbelief, but I think that even then they could have handled some parts of the situation. At least the film did have some good social commentary and depth, even if it's a little unpolished and a tad unsubtle.
All in all, I was quite surprised by this one, I had heard all the hype and praise, and that made me wary, and at first I myself wasn't totally won over, but in the end, this film proved itself worthy of all the great things being said about it. This one's a real gem that you should definitely give some attention to.