Sunday 4 May 2014

Films: Paul (2011), and Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

I started to watch Paul not really expecting to finish it, due to my previous very mixed views of the characteristic humour of Simon Pegg, who wrote the script and starred in the film. While I enjoyed his surreal police story Hot Fuzz, I didn't stick with Shaun of the Dead for very long. Paul turned out to be a pleasant surprise, though.

Two British SF fans (played by Pegg and Nick Frost) are on their first visit to the USA to attend an SF convention. They hire an RV to tour the legendary sights, including of course Roswell and Area 51. Their holiday is interrupted when they become accidentally involved with a real alien – small, grey and with large eyes – who is being hunted by the Secret Service from whom he is escaping. What follows is a riotous chase, much enlivened by the sardonic, wise-cracking personality of the alien (voiced by Seth Rogen). On the way they pick up another passenger, a young woman from a fundamentalist Christian family (Kristen Wiig), whose attitudes are the butt of more humour (warning: fundamentalist Christians are unlikely to enjoy this film). The rousing conclusion is all that you would expect, with the bonus of an unexpected twist. Don't stop watching until the credits stop rolling, as there's PS scene at the end.

The entire plot is a tribute to classic SF themes, packing in many references to other films (especially ET) and SF tropes. Great entertainment for all SF fans.


I think I saw just about all of the Star Trek: The New Generation TV shows when they first came out (I've not seen them since then) and thought that I had seen the associated films as well. So when I saw Star Trek: Insurrection was showing on TV I watched it expecting a bit of nostalgic viewing. I was therefore surprised to realise that I hadn't seen it before.

Having said that, I still had my dose of nostalgia; the same old cast, all doing exactly what you expect them to. The plot is not only typical of the TV shows, it could actually have been lifted from the original Star Trek series. It lacks the darkness of First Contact, the previous film in the franchise, and there is a lack of tension throughout. It's undemanding OK viewing, but don't expect your adrenaline levels to rise.

On looking at Wiki's notes on the films I realised that I seem to have missed Nemesis as well – I'll have to watch out for that one being shown.


Fred said...

_Paul_ sounds like a lot of fun, as I also enjoyed Hot Fuzz. The library has a copy of it, so I guess I'll reserve and take a look at it.

Anthony G Williams said...

Good! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.