Film Review: Paul

Zombies and serial killers overcome, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s latest adventure sees them encounter extra-terrestrial life. Paul is genuinely good fun, and a suitable tribute to the science fiction films that Pegg and Frost obviously love so much.

British sci-fi geeks Graeme and Clive embark on a road trip across America, visiting famous UFO sites. When they encounter a real alien called Paul, the friends decide to help him with his mission. Graeme, Clive and Paul are in peril as those chasing the alien edge closer…

The mix of comedy and action adventure works incredibly well in Paul. The tone is never too serious; dramatic moments are usually disrupted by a joke. While the film is certainly tongue-in-cheek, director Greg Mottola provides the momentum that allows Paul to function effectively as a sci-fi action film. The tone is buoyant; the film keeps a steady pace throughout.

Paul has a more polished feel than Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead. Although a few rough edges is sometimes a good thing, in the case of these films Paul is a more attractive option than Pegg and Frost’s previous collaborations. Both Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead were a little patchy in places. Thankfully Paul is better executed than this. The humour works, though some audience members may find it a little immature. Nonetheless, most cinemagoers will know what to expect from the duo.

Pegg and Frost are obviously big science fiction fans, this shines through in Paul. The film features numerous references to sci-fi films and culture, most of which are sufficiently mainstream to be understood by a wide audience. In particular, Paul functions as a homage to science-fiction films of the 1980s. These films have clearly had a profound affect on Pegg and Frost (who also wrote the film), the overt references made to Steven Spielberg indicate this.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play geeks in the film, characters that do not appear too far removed from their actual personalities. Both are lively and energetic, but definitely in their comfort zone. Seth Rogen voices Paul with his usual slacker sensibilities, while Kristen Wiig is great but a little underused as Ruth. Sigourney Weaver joins in the fun, playfully parodying the genre that made her a star.

David Arnold’s soundtrack is great, with more than a nod to John Williams’ classic E.T. score. Overall, Paul is highly enjoyable, especially for sci-fi fans and those nostalgic for the Spielbergian oeuvre.

Film Review: The Green Hornet

Not one of the more popular comic book superheroes, the film The Green Hornet seems destined to follow the same fate. Although the film is entertaining, it is also instantly forgettable.

Following his father’s death, Britt Reid takes over the reigns at The Daily Sentinel. When Britt and his late father’s assistant Kato stop a robbery, the pair decide to become masked crime-fighting superheroes…

There is plenty of humour in The Green Hornet, but there is also an action-driven plot of underworld crime in Los Angeles. The film would have worked a lot better if it solely followed the comedy strand. The Green Hornet is self-reflexive, therefore may have been a better film if it was a straightforward parody.

As it stands, the narrative is fairly predictable. Britt and Kato have an inevitable falling out, there is a love interest in the form of Cameron Diaz’s Lenore Case, and there is a character who is not quite what they seem. The action sequences are well produced, but there is not really anything that hasn’t already been done in previous superhero films.

Avoid seeing The Green Hornet in 3D if possible. The appearance of this extra dimension is shoddy in the scenes that use it. Otherwise, the production values are good, and the soundtrack is excellent.

Seth Rogen brings much of the humour (he co-wrote the script), but at times his acting is terrible. It is unclear whether this is intentional overacting, fitting in with the element of parody, or plain bad acting. Jay Chou is suitably classed as Kato, acting as the straight man to Rogen’s Britt. Cameron Diaz is hardly used in The Green Hornet, while Christoph Waltz is suitably ridiculous as one-dimensional villain Chudnofsky.

As a superhero, the Green Hornet is similar to Batman, in having wealth but no actual superpowers. Whereas Bruce Wayne uses his playboy lifestyle as a guise, Britt Reid genuinely lives this life. The introductory scenes do well to set-up his character; depicting a guy who parties non-stop. In one sense, Reid is the most normal and relatable of all the superheroes. Rather than an intrinsic desire to do good, Reid is driven by the buzz he got from stopping the robbery. He wants to be a superhero because it’s cool, something that fans of the genre can surely relate to.

The Green Hornet is enjoyable as mindless entertainment, but does nothing to distinguish itself from the plethora of other superhero films. By no means a must-see movie, it is not going to disappoint too many viewers either.