Paul [2011]

I’ve been pretty ambivalent in my filmgoing experience. I just wasn’t sure what conclusions to draw about, say, Barbara or Rampart – flawed movies, but where I felt there were some interesting things going on if I could just… prise the thing open. Or films like the Amazing Spiderman or The Dark Knight Rises where there were lots of good things going on, but where there were some snags loitering in the background.

So it’s kind of a relief to have an unambiguous filmic experience in the form of Paul. It’s terrible. I am actually just lost for where to begin with this complete and utter mess of a film, because in the immediate aftermath of my first viewing, it seems like whatever they were aiming for, they missed.


I found that less cathartic than I thought I would. No wonder Hulk is angry all the time, shouting doesn’t help.

In the most broadly sweeping generalized statement about the problem with this film, I’m going to pin it all on this: This film is a masturbatory self-indulgence on the part of the principle cast. They have lavished a great deal of time and money on the most limp and listless fantasy of geek fandom and done so in the most condescending and patronizing terms, no doubt while clapping each other on the back at how the film would speak to the geek masses that are portrayed. They have wheeled out every tired cliche, every hackneyed character and plot device and every story beat has been worn down to the knub from prior over-use by no-talent hacks phoning in a script while picking the new paint colour in the house extension this excrement is paying for. Usually the challenge I set myself when watching failures is to imagine the minimum number of possible changes to render the film into a pass, but I think the more intriguing challenge here would be to find something else that could be done even worse. I really can’t think of anything, because even degrading the production values might actually decrease how offensive this is as a massive waste of time and talent from people who have produced better work, if the sound were terrible and the camerawork shoddy, you might half-heartedly accept it as the lazy and ill-executed pet project that it clearly is, and have a laugh to yourself about how kids will be kids and make a few shockers on the way to learning their craft – but the high production values just remind you that this is a substantial part of the team who achieved Shaun of the Dead, which prevents you from accepting this abomination of a half-baked incoherent vomited-forth sub-pantomime as a whimsical folly and forces you to recognise that actually, this creative team wilfully and deliberately made a film of this quality! I was about to rate it as a 1 on IMDB when I had a casual look at the other films which had invoked my ire, and, sadly, I’m now going to have to upgrade all of them so that I can reserve and implement my view that this film is categorically worse than all of them. I’m sure that in my long and pretty cosmopolitan cinema-going history I must have seen something worse than this, but as of right now, nothing occurs to me as being even in the same league, and indeed, the same sport! Even Forrest Gump was entertaining by comparison. If nothing else I’ve said has meant anything to you, hopefully that will show you the true horror.

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5 Responses to Paul [2011]

  1. I didn’t like Paul either, but I kind of thought I was alone on this one (and didn’t really care enough to work out why) so I kept quiet about it 🙂 Not that I share your level of vitriol about it though ;).

  2. demonground says:

    I actually enjoyed it… think of that as you wish. Then again nothing can be as bad as the Thor movie…

    • mashugenah says:

      Thor did have a lot of structural problems.

      I was surprised that Thor didn’t get more of a critical mauling, because all the things that were wrong with it were the things critics usually spot quite readily. Then again, the whole game of cinema at the moment seems to be a race between lowered expectations and audio-visual flashiness… witness 3D, a fairly naked attempt to make cinema seem more alluring without really trying to improve the quality of anything about it. Though – you’re a 3D fan, I seem to recall, so maybe you have a different perspective on that. However, the fact that Thor was retrofitted from 2D to 3D to try and sex it up speaks volumes to me.

  3. mattcowens says:

    I didn’t like Paul, and at times I disliked it.

    I did enjoy Thor though, in spite of a slow start.

  4. xullrae says:

    Never saw it. Glad now 🙂

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