10 Keys to a Better Life as a Fanboy: 5. Forewarned is Forearmed?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (Warner Bros.)

This series of articles is designed to help you, the fan, try and divorce yourself from your attachment to source material and judge a film on its own merits and not in comparison to another work. These tips come from my own experience. I hope they are helpful.

This may be the most difficult of my guidelines in which to practice what you preach but it is completely possible. Basically, what this means is that if you find yourself to forming prejudicial opinions when hearing news tidbits about an upcoming films try and avoid them. Granted this is becoming increasingly difficult in a wired world but it is possible.

For example, I wrote about the split in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows films. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked into what they picked and thus opined on it. However, none of the headlines I saw gave it away had I not clicked the link I’d be none the wiser.

Now, of course, casting news is usually a giveaway. It’ll be in the headline that so-and-so was cast in a given role but what I’ve learned in those scenarios is that I have been surprised many times by such decisions so I no longer read too much into those.

This feeds into the blank slate argument but basically the less about the production you can manage to absorb and form an opinion on before you see the film the better off you will be.

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10 Keys To A Better Life As A Fanboy- 3. You’re Not The Director, Screenwriter, Etc.

Rupert Grint in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Warner Bros.)

This series of articles is designed to help you, the fan, try and divorce yourself from your attachment to source material and judge a film on its own merits and not in comparison to another work. These tips come from my own experience. I hope they are helpful.

While this does connect somewhat to number one, as many ultimately will, trust me this is somewhat different and is very important to remember. It is also key to keep in mind ultimately the decisions that are shaping a series based on a work you love are not yours to make. Now you may be a creative type who makes it and someday you could be in charge of a remake, as film is becoming more like theatre and remakes (read “revivals”) are becoming an accepted practice, of your pet project and if that’s the case more power to you but then you’ll be the one facing the angry postings not writing them. However, as you sit in wait for one of the year’s biggest releases you’re not going to shift opinion and if your opinion stands for several consecutive installments of a series do one of two things: one, get over it or two, stop watching them.

An example of this would be a friend of mine who told me four movies or so into the Harry Potter series that she hates how Rupert Grint plays Ron Weasley. There is obviously a difference of opinion between the makers and actor and this audience member as to who Ron is, however, the producers wanted nothing more from the early-going than to secure the young triad for the duration. If the interpretation bothers you that much stop subjecting yourself to it or knock it off and just take it with a grain of salt.

I do fully realize there are remakes or sequels that make money simply because you want to “see how stupid it is” but eventually if a series dissatisfies you for several consecutive installments you should pull the plug. Aside from that you really have no sway. Online petitions may have gotten people on SNL but they have yet to change film casting or rewrite plot points so it is an exercise in futility.

Review- Paul

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg in Paul (Universal)

The first thing that needs saying about Paul is that it’s the first comedy I’ve seen in a while that struck me as one that will likely get better upon being re-viewed. However, unlike Pegg and Frost’s previous films, those which were pairings with Edgar Wright this film is more homage than homage/parody. There isn’t really that delightful and subtle transition that occurred in the initial installments of the Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy to elevate this one but it does not stop this film from being very funny indeed.

The lack of subtlety translates a bit to the humor of this film as well. Not that it ever really hits a discordant note comedically but it doesn’t have the well-hidden jokes or the built-in verve that the earlier films do. What it does have is a tremendous spirit and a genuine love for all things in the overarching genre that can best be called Fanboy. Whether it sci-fi, comics or anything else you can find at Comic Con this film loves it an embraces it.

It’s that spirit that really propels the film. There are a few things that become a bit too present like the mysterious boss, who is seeking to capture the alien (the eponymous Paul voiced by Seth Rogen), which is just an overly elaborate set-up to a short-lived cameo by Sigourney Weaver which has already been spoiled by the marketing department- see it does factor in sometimes.

Then there are the dueling chasers: the underling Agent Zoil (played by Jason Bateman, and yes there’s a great joke made about the name) and his subordinates Haggard and O’Reilly (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Trugio) who are kept in the dark to an extent about what this chase it really about. As if that subplot wasn’t enough the chase becomes even more cluttered adding Moses Buggs (John Carroll Lynch) whose daughter Ruth (Kristen Wiig) ran off with them, to the mix.

That is not to say that these things don’t fit, aren’t funny and don’t add something to the mix but they remain a bit separate and don’t represent a realistic threat until very late so most of the time it’s additional comedy added and more time allotted than is maybe needed. These elements aren’t folded in as neatly as they could be.

In this day and age when any animated character that exists is automatically endangered when there isn’t a name attached to play the role the concept of invisibility is very important, which if you haven’t read an animated review of mine before means the ability of the actor to blend into the film and become his character such that we don’t think of his face when we hear his voice. This was a huge hurdle for Despicable Me that was eventually cleared and in this film it was one of its greater struggles. Rogen’s voice is not only very distinctive but also rather inflexible such that until the character builds sufficiently it’s hard to not think of him.

The CG does help pull it through, however, as always it seems to be the case that when there is only one major project that the animators need to deal there seems to be greater attention to detail paid. Paul looks quite real some of the time and perhaps more importantly blends in with his surroundings very well.

The cast overall does an outstanding job. In the end Rogen does manage to make Paul rather an endearing if different extra-terrestrial than those we’ve come to know. Nick Frost and Simon Pegg show that they are the world’s premiere comedic duo at the moment and show no signs of slowing down. Kristen Wiig adds just the right amount of zaniness to the mix and be prepared to be surprised but an important, moving and hilarious supporting turn by Blythe Danner.

What is always very apparent with films that involve Pegg and Frost as both writers and performers is that you know their material comes from a place of genuine affection despite the spoofing and jokes. As a film fan it will remind you some of your very favorite films but also tell a tale of its own which is very worthy of your time.

8/10