Paul - Unrated Blu-ray Review
Paul comes to Region Free US Blu-ray with the same excellent video transfer that graced the UK Blu-ray release, a 1080p High Definition rendition, presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is fantastic throughout – whether on the longer shots or the close-ups – allowing for superb fine object detail, resounding clarity, no softness, and no signs of either edge enhancement or DNR. There’s a fine layer of filmic grain pervading the piece, which gives it a nice cinematic edge, and there is even a certain amount of 3D pop. Whilst the colour scheme seems to have been slightly biased towards more vivid yellows and oranges, the tones are represented well across the board; rich and vibrant, with strong, solid blacks that make for excellent night sequences and shadowing. Overall it’s not quite perfect, but also not far off it at all, easily making for demo quality material.
On the aural front the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix – again, just like the UK counterpart – is equally impressive; a fairly powerful, sometimes all-encompassing offering which does not quite reach the heights of the blockbusters that it seeks to send up, but comes very close indeed. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, largely dominating the frontal array. The effects range from gunshots to space-ships to fireworks, and allow for some noteworthy surround sound moments, directionality evident across the array. More ambient moments do occur, although they are sometimes drowned out (not necessarily in a bad way) by the soundtrack, which, in its own way, often pays nods to several of the movies that the film seeks to reference – from the almost military percussion-driven theme reminiscent of Lethal Weapon, Aliens and Die Hard; to the more direct references like the Close Encounters ‘five tones’. The score itself is also quite a prominent, suitably blockbuster-styled offering, and gives the surrounds plenty to do. Overall, just edging into demo quality for me, it’s an impressive audio accompaniment.
The US Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy is identical to the UK Triple Play release in the extras department too, coming with the same pretty-comprehensive selection that is mostly pretty good stuff (again, even if not quite the standards of Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead).
This full-length commentary is delivered by all of the people you would like to hear from: Director Greg Mottola, and actors Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Bill Hader (together with Producer Nira Park), who pool together to provide an enjoyable, joke-riddled offering which isn’t all that informative (except in segments), but more than compensates by being pretty damn entertaining.
Between the Lightning Strikes: The Making of Paul is a comprehensive two-part Documentary which has Pegg and Frost discuss the origins of Paul, how they came up with the idea, and the actual road-trip that they took in preparation for the movie. Cast and crew interview snippets populate this offering, which is further bolstered by video camera footage from said preparatory road trip.
The Evolution of Paul spends 15 minutes looks at how the CG alien came to life, the various stages and incarnations, and what did and didn’t work as a convincing CG creation.
The Featurettes can be viewed using a Play All function, and total over an hour of background material.
RV Doorway: The Cast of Paul On-Location has the most prominent cast members spend a few minutes patting one another on the back.
Runaway Santa Fe: An Interview with Nancy Steiner offers up some background into the Costume Designer and the work she did on the movie.
Smithereens spends a little time dissecting one of the most explosive moments in the movie, and detailing the various effects required for the shot.
5th Date Level Direction: The Cast on Greg Mottola is more back-patting, this time directed at the Director.
Mexico Zero: The Locations of Paul has the cast reflect on the various locations in the movie, with Pegg in particular enamoured by Mexico.
The Many Pauls looks at the various things required to bring Paul to life – from a physical model to elaborate visual effects with Seth Rogen doing the motion capture.
Paul The Musical has the Cast and Crew fooling around, dancing and singing on set.
The Traveler Beagle has Frost take us on a tour of their on-set RV, set-up on the soundstage and ready for filming.
Bloopers run at a whopping 11 minutes in length, and, as with many recent gag reels, doesn’t really have all that many funny moments in it. Still, worth dipping into because you might find a few that tickle your fancy.
Simon’s Silly Faces offers up a minute-long montage of Simon Pegg making silly faces during takes.
Galleries allows us access to 6 different galleries: Nick Frost’s Road Trip Photos; Simon Pegg’s Behind the Scenes Photos; Simon Pegg’s Rehearsal Photos; Wilson Webb’s Behind the Scenes Photos; Storyboards; and Posters.
Trailers and TV Spotsoffers up a selection of promotional material to round off the disc.
Although you would be forgiven for assuming it, Paul is not the third part in the so-called Cornetto trilogy of films by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – following on from the similarly-styled Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. And that’s not such a bad thing really, because it does not quite live up to the standards of those other two movies, nor of the Director’s earlier effort, the excellent Superbad. Instead, this admittedly perfectly entertaining little sci-fi-tribute comedic road movie is a fun but flawed effort from the Frost/Pegg duo, lacking a certain spark from them. With Seth Rogen on scene-stealing form as the eponymous Paul, it’s still got plenty of funny moments and fans of all the above-mentioned movies will want to check it out – the quote factor will certainly keep film fanatics pretty entertained for the duration.
On Region Free US Blu-ray we get the same excellent video and audio that the UK Triple Play Edition had; the same DVD and Digital Copy; the same plethora of reasonably decent extras; and the same choice to play either version of the movie: Theatrical or Unrated (there really is very little difference, however). I would certainly recommend a rental to fans of Pegg, Frost or similar work from this sub-genre, although many will likely find that it probably just about warrants a place alongside ‘Fuzz and ‘Shaun in their collection, so a blind buy should not leave you disappointed. It’s far from a bad movie, and really quite an enjoyable, funny one – just don’t expect it to be as good as their other collaborations.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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