Sunday, May 8, 2011

Paul (2011) A Reflection on an A-Paul-ing Movie (sorry about the pun)

We've just had the school holidays here in New Zealand and as a family we go to the movies as a family. However as our children have got to different life stages they want to go to different movies. I went with my oldest to Thor (2010) my choice. I went to Rio (2011) with my eight year old and my two middle teenage children I went to see the comedy Paul (2011). It was rated R13 in New Zealand and I was amazed as when I was young movies with this level of swearing would be R16 or even R18. But we went and watched it.

Paul is a movie about an alien trying to get back home after having been here since 1947. two English ubergeeks help him in his escape. There were some good points to the movie.

 I found myself suspending belief and connecting with a CGI'd character. The movie was able to create a alien that one was able to relate to, it took the CGI of "Lord of the Ring's Gollum to a new level.

I enjoyed the homage to old sci-fi movies. Even when my kids had to point them out to me. In the pub brawl scene the country and western band played the music from the bar scene in Star Wars IV 'The New Hope'. My kids didn't recognise the devil's peak from 'Close Encounters of the Third kind'  and didn't get why SigourneyWeaver was so funny as 'the big guy'. they haven't seen the alien series... yet! The great moment was a flashback to 1980 Paul on the phone to Steven Spielberg giving him plot ideas for his movie ET!

I did find myself rather concerned with the caricature of Christians presented in the movie. they were presented as deluded legalistic backward folk (who knows maybe we are). Kristen Wiig  plays Ruth Buggs who is a very conservative christian whose worldview is blown out of the water by encountering an alien. The implication is that this disproves God and science wins, freeing Ruth for the finer points of life like cussing, sex, drugs and alcohol.

I am always reminded of Robert J Taylor's 2000 novel Calculating God where the advanced aliens who make contact with us cannot believe how backward science is on our planet that it walked away from a belief in God.

Ironically it is Paul himself who ends up being the Christ-like figure (if I can say such a thing) in the movie, bringing  freedom, enlightenment, showing love to humanity that have kept him captive and want to sacrifice him to the God of scientific knowledge,  healing and wholeness and willing to sacrifice his life for others.

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