FILM SYNOPSIS: My Name Is Paul takes place in an apocalyptic future where a man named Paul is intent on eliminating people who follow “The Way,” until the day he is blinded by God, and healed by a man named Ananias. Stars Michael Joiner of The Grace Card and Shannen Fields of Facing the Giants. The DVD is available through Word Films.
PREVIEW REVIEW: All too often, well-meaning filmmakers wishing to deliver a you-need-Jesus theme through the medium of film do so about as subtly as Western Union. Then there are the films guilty of message-pounding that also contain every other movie-making misdemeanor from the ever-present background score that drones on as if the composer was paid by the note, to the uninspired acting. My Name is Paul is guilty of both. It didn’t miss a stumble.
Updating the story of the Apostle Paul to futuristic times seems pointless, and adding a subplot wherein Paul’s bosses want a map to hidden mines containing salt (Really, salt? Allegorical, I suppose), was nearly as lame as featuring the lead wearing a four-day growth of beard throughout the entire story. (When are actors and filmmakers going to abandon that affectation?)
My hostile reaction does not come easily as I don’t like taking shots at the work of others. But it was torture sitting through this mess of a movie. I found it tedious, clunky, and forgettable. It’s as if ‘50s filmmaker-wannabe Ed Wood (maker of Plan Nine From Outer Space – considered the worst film of all time) had been reincarnated as a Christian filmmaker.
An actor playing Steven, a follower of the Way, shall go nameless as he may be the worst actor I’ve seen in a film since my days of doing films for the church market. Uttering lines like “He never leaves my prayers” and sporting Ward Churchill blonde-streaked, middle-parted hair and a flowing scarf no doubt proliferated from a confused fashion designer, the actor looks like a fading matinee idol now living with Woodstock survivors. The actor playing Paul has all the magnetism of a turnip. Though he memorizes lines and doesn’t bump into the furniture, he lacks any perceptible charisma. And don’t even get me started on the little girl who kindly reaches out to Paul. She actually looks at the camera in one shot and no one says cut!
Although we could indeed be living in the final times, you need strong film-making elements to reveal the apocalypse without coming across as an even inferior version of one of those Left Behind films. This is a case where a bigger budget may not have been the only requirement needed to salvage a film. Perhaps a few more cinema classes should have been considered.
“But Phil, you can’t expect a religious film from a small production company to be on the same level as a Hollywood production.” Why not? You’re gonna pay the same amount to see it.
Not rated, it does contain some violence, including close-up killings.