Who's In It: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Howard Simon, Luke Treadaway, Jumayn Hunter, Nick Frost
The Basics: When aliens attack a London council estate, the neighborhood's teenage criminals have to band together with the woman they all just robbed at knifepoint as well as their weed dealer, their annoyed female friends, a slumming university student and two gangsta-wannabe 9-year-olds in order to battle and stop the creatures from spreading throughout the city. If within 10 minutes you're not understanding this as an extremely cool Goonies-meets-Aliens mashup then it's because you're too busy trying to deciper the extremely thick South London dialect and slang.
What's The Deal: Limited moviegoing budgets require tough entertainment decisions. You want the best alien invasion film for your money. Well, this is the one. Made for a fraction of the cost of Cowboys & Aliens, it's also its polar opposite--loose, fresh, inventive, funny, surprising, exciting, moving and even socially aware in ways that its gigantic American counterpart never thought to try. And the aliens are better, too, pitch-black gorilla-wolves with blue fangs that glow in the dark when they're about to eat you. Points for thinking outside the slimy-gooey-monster box.
Where It Comes From: Writer-director Joe Cornish (who, it's said, wrote this movie after being mugged by some kids just like the characters here) had a small acting role in Hot Fuzz, directed by Edgar Wright, who also made Shaun of The Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Wright produced this and that's where Nick Frost's participation comes into play. Fans of those movies and that sensibility will be glad they spent time finding this one.
How It's Also Like Super 8: I know I just referenced Goonies and Aliens, but its closest summer 2011 cousin is the J.J. Abrams teens-deal-with-aliens adventure. Just like that one it stars a lot of newcomers who leave winning impressions, and the breakout star here is John Boyega as Moses, the leader of his pack. His performance is mostly angry shouts and glares that, weirdly, remain constant even as you find yourself softening toward his irredeemable teen thug persona and then, more improbably, wind up rooting for him.
Who’ll Hate It: Anyone who doesn’t listen to Dizzee Rascal or already have at least a little background with TV or movies from the U.K. that don't involve crisply precise Downton Abbey-style dialects. The kids here are more like the Catherine Tate character who calls men "bruva" and says stuff like "I'm not bovvered." And honestly, even if you can't understand a single word anyone is saying you'll follow the action and you'll still get the meaning. Of course, because it's a limited release, you may wind up waiting for DVD anyway, where there'll be convenient captions you can read along with while the stars deliver occasionally impenetrable English.