What I found so endearing about this movie, was that it didn't take any easy options with its cast of young characters. They belong to a gang on a South London housing estate. And while their lives are blighted by poverty, lack of opportunity and eventually by an invasion of furry, glow-in-the-dark alien marauders, at the start, they are NOT heroes. In fact, they're exactly the opposite. What we see is what we expect. A gang of tough kids who mug a hard-working nurse and don't feel a single moment of remorse. These are the 'hoodies' gleefully demonised by the tabloid press during the London riots (one can't help thinking this movie was a bit prescient in that respect) and there are a lot of things about them to dislike.
But then when the aliens start beaming down, it's the nurse (played with a fabulous mix of outrage and compassion by Jodie Whittaker), a pot-growing local pothead (the inimitable Nick 'Shaun of the Dead' Frost) and the teen gang who are the only thing standing between South London and anilihation - and so they are forced to team up to survive.
Suddenly, we see these kids in a whole different light. They're brave, resourceful, remarkably loyal to one another and their lives are much tougher than we could have imagined - there's an absolutely heartbreaking moment when the leader of the gang (the electrifying young actor John Boyega) has to walk through his flat to draw the creatures out and we see how destitute his life really is.
I adored this movie! It was fun, fast-moving, edge-of-your-seat exciting, riotously funny at times, terrifyingly hard-hitting at others and had a compelling message lurking beneath the entertainment. And I defy anyone who watches it not to be rooting for these kids by the end of it, even though they are little buggers who would probably mug you as soon as look at you... And you can't say that about many movie heroes, now can you!
Heidi is currently beavering away to finish her 12th M&B novel. Her newest Riva, The Good, The Bad and the Wild, is out in March in the UK and Ireland, and her latest Harlequin Presents Extra, Cupcakes and Killer Heels is also out in March in the US. She loves to hear from readers on her blog, her Facebook page, her website or Twitter (@HeidiRomRice).