Blu-ray Review – Paul

I saw Paul in theaters opening weekend.  I was very excited to see the pairing of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in another cinematic adventure.  I think the mistake I made going into it was to expect another Pegg/Frost and Edgar Wright style movie and that it was not.  But to be fair, that wasn’t the proper way to go into the film.  My initial reaction to Paul was a little mixed.  I thought it had funny parts for sure and it is chock full of geeky movie references, but it didn’t seem to stick out to me as a whole movie.  So when I got my copy of Paul on blu-ray, I hoped that my initial (slightly unfair) expectations were the cause of me not enjoying the film as much as I think I should have.  Sure enough, my second viewing of the movie was much more enjoyable than the first and I can say that I’m officially on board as a fan of the film.

Video:    4.5/5

Paul looks quite good on blu-ray.  There is a lot of nice fine detail to the image.  The image looks pretty clean and I didn’t notice much in the way of any digital artifacting, banding or dust/scratches.  The movie was shot on film stock and the grain is never intrusive, in fact, it’s barely noticeable.  The colors and skintones all seemed to be accurately reproduced and contrast levels are quite nice with some nice inky blacks.  I could only recall one shot in the movie where the image looked a little hazy but I think that was an issue that occured during the filming of the movie.  Overall, this is a pretty damn good transfer.

Audio:    4.5/5

Playing the audio through my Sony sound system, I thought the sound was very crisp and clear.  All the dialogue was easily discernible and never sounded muffled.  The mix between the dialogue, the score and the sound effects all blended really well together.  I didn’t find myself ever having to turn down the volume in any of the louder scenes so the levels seemed to be pretty constant throughout the film.

Extras:    5/5

There is a plethora of behind the scenes material provided.  While it’s no Lord of the Rings extended edition materials, what is provided is way more than I expected.  I’m really happy with what they’ve put together and it just adds so much more value to the movie.  The blu-ray disc comes with two versions of the film, the theatrical and unrated.  I watched the unrated version, which is a few minutes longer, but couldn’t really point out the differences.

Bloopers(11 mins) – There are some pretty funny moments in this reel but I have to say it isn’t the best blooper reel I’ve seen.  All the cast share some fun mess ups and it’s very enjoyable to see but it just didn’t provide that infectious laughter I’ve gotten from other blooper reels I’ve seen.

Between the Lightning Strikes: The Making of Paul(40 mins) – This is a documentary that you can watch in two parts or all together and it is an in-depth look at the making of the movie.  It was kind of interesting to find out how the idea for Paul originated and that it was essentially born out of a passing joke they made while on the set of Shaun of the Dead.  It goes into Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s own RV road trip they made as an exercise to get inspired during the writing process and even helped provide some real life input into the script.  The two redneck guys they encounter at the alien diner was something they had happen to them.  The documentary covers a lot of ground and is an often interesting look into how the movie was made.

BTS Featurettes(1 hr, 3 mins) – This is by far my favorite extras piece on the disc.  This outdoes the previous documentary without making it seem trivial.  These featurettes do cover similar territory as the documentary but I never felt it repeated information unnecessarily and, when it did, it expanded greatly upon what it talked about.  I think the main difference between the two pieces is that the documentary is more of a traditional behind the scenes look whereas the featurettes are a lot more conversational and give a much better idea of what it would feel like to be on set with all these talented actors.  You get to see them interact with each other between takes and really see the cast’s camaraderie and the enthusiasm that they had for making the film.  It’s often very funny and quite insightful.  It really goes to show what an amazingly talented cast that was put together for this film.  I’d love to see more features like this on other movie’s extras material.  You can view this all at once or in segments, but I say just set aside an hour and hit “play all.”  It’s well worth it.

The Evolution of Paul(15 mins) – Again, the material here has been touched on in the previous extras but once again they expand on the subject and provide new and interesting bits of information regarding how the character of Paul came to life.  You get a glimpse for how much effort went into his creation and implementation into the shooting and post phases of the movie.  It also gives you a lot more respect for the FX artists as they created a character that you know is a CG creation but by the end of the film, you forget he’s fake and just see him as a character.  It’s a testament to the writing, the actors, the director and all the animators with their hard work that they put it in trying to ground a fake character with a sense of reality.

Simon’s Silly Faces(1 min, 20 secs) – This is an amusing fluff piece of Simon Pegg just doing goofy faces on various takes.

Who the hell is Adam Shadowchild?(2 mins) – This is a very inconsequential bit piece that spotlights the Adam Shadowchild character.  It features a lot of clips from the movie that you’ve seen but also has some extended footage of Shadowchild at Comic Con doing panel moderation.

Audio Commentary – (Theatrical Version only) – Actors Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Bill Hader are joined by producer Nira Park and director Greg Mottola to offer insight and jokes regarding the movie.

Other features include twelve trailers/tv spots, a gallery featuring photos, storyboards and various posters, as well as a My Scenes feature where you can bookmark your favorite scenes and a D-Box Motion Code feature if you have the proper equipment.

Packaging:

Paul arrives in a two disc combo pack, one disc holds the blu-ray and the other holds the dvd/digital copy.  The discs are housed in a standard blu-ray case with a glossy, slightly embossed, cardboard slipcover over top.

Overall:    4.5/5

Paul is a really fun movie that you can easily just kick back with some friends, order a pizza and have a good time.  The movie looks great in high definition and the special features here are top notch which adds so much more value to the blu-ray.  For anyone who is a fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to add this to your collection.  For everyone else, this blu-ray/dvd combo set is highly recommended.

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