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Headscratchers: Paul
  • That whole point where Ruth and Paul were arguing over evolution vs. intelligent design. Paul argues for evolution behind a closed door, while Ruth argues on the side of intelligent design. After the argument heats up Ruth (assuming Paul is human) states her belief that Man was created in God's image. Paul retorts with "Really?! Then how do you explain me?" then reveals himself to be a non-human alien. She is obviously shocked and then faints. However considering that Paul came from a completely diffrent galaxy and an entirely seperate gene pool, Paul looks REMARKABLY human. His outward anatomy and much of his implied physiology is very similar to humans. Even his eyes look just like ours only bigger. Actually Paul existence would probably even be a valid argument for intelligent design. If he were some Starfish Alien then it would be justified.
    • It is implied in that man was created in God's image that it was not a similarity but a near exact creation to specifications. Thus, we humans have the same proportions, size of head, stature and body structure as god would have. Paul conflicts with this in that he and his race have short stature, a head to body ratio that is closer to 1:1 same with brain to body. He has different organs than us as well as glands, his proportions are off in that he has arms that take up around half of his body length at least with stubby legs by comparison. His eyes are disproportionate compared to his head, etc... As well as telepathy while we do not despite being the preferred offspring of God, so what would be the explanation as to why a different species not favored by God is given such awesome powers while his prodigy have nothing over the evolutionarily superior species Paul is from.
      • True, but that would only disprove the idea that the Biblical God created Man in his own exact image. Paul would still have trouble explaining how his species and humanity look so similar if he really believes that they are both the product if independent evolution comming from entirely different gene pools. Intelligent design doesn't have to mean the Abrahamic God created humans in his own image.
      • Well the movie does put heavy emphasis on evolution. Based on what past experience we have of sapient species, only a bipedal creature with depth perception and opposable thumbs can become sufficiently advanced enough technology wise to achieve space flight. Based on the evolution of our species as well, only bipedal beings were ones that were able to compete with us. It would stand to reason that happened to Paul's species.
    • Wasn't Paul's entire (justified) argument that his existence undermines the idea that Humans Are Special?
    • Basically the film invents evidence and then presents it against a ridiculous strawman. It's best not to look too closely.
      • Any sci-fi film that brings up science vs. religion invents evidence and presents it against a (generally) ridiculous strawman, because almost any inverted Flat Earth Atheist is a strawman when put up against the premise of the story. That's not to say that the strawman will always represent what people should think in Real Life, because in some works (such as various episodes of Star Trek), they as much as go out of their way to say that the argument works specifically because of the out-of-the-ordinary stuff that makes it a sci-fi (or less commonly, fantasy) work. Granted, Ruth does present some of the less scientific things that even many orthodox and fundamentalist Christians don't believe, as well as the "earth is 4000 years old" thing which wasn't even officially stated in any Abrahamic literature (and is usually estimated to be around 6000, anyway), but she was the type of character who even in real life has been locked away from any sort of opposing argument and has trouble with her carefully-constructed world crashing down around her (Clive has the same problem, only his carefully-constructed worldview is that aliens are definitely, purely fictional, but it's so much cooler to act like they probably aren't). I found it interesting that Ruth's father actually has an easier time accepting Paul, because he places Paul within an available category in his worldview (calling him a demon) and adjusts it as appropriate ("hand of God").
    • Ruth's religious beliefs explicitly include that Earth is the one planet that god has focused his attemtion on, the existence of an alien is a fairly blatant contradiction of that. Even then it wasn't just seeing Paul that convinced her, it was being zapped by his Exposition Beam and being granted extensive scientific knowledge - that's pretty good evidence.
  • On a similar note, Paul downright states that his existence disproves the idea of the "Traditional, Abrahamic God". This is just wrong. Even if you accept the tenuous "I'm not in God's image!" line, the Abrahamic God is the God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Islam is actually fairly open to the possibility of other life in the universe; the Fatihah says "All praises be to God, Lord of all the worlds" (worlds, plural) and stuff like that. It's quite big on the wonders of the universe. Paul's existence doesn't disprove anything except Ruth's brand of strawman religion.
  • Why the hell did they reveal that Sigourney Weaver is in the film?
    • It would be hard to do a trailer without some of her dialogue, and her voice is pretty recognizable. They probably couldn't help it.
    • As said, her voice is pretty recognizable, so regardless of the marketing it wasn't much of a reveal in-film to most people. And most of those who didn't say "hey, that sounds familiar..." probably didn't notice or care about the promotional "spoilage". To those remaining few...sorry :P
  • Near the beginning, the protagonists sneak Paul past the rookie agents without being detected. Soon after, Zoil arrives and from hearing the rookies' description of what happened he deduces that the two nerds they saw were actually harbouring the fugitive alien, thus beginning the chase. This all makes sense at the time, but then The Reveal comes and we learn that Zoil was working with Paul all along... so why did he chase after them? If he had just kept quiet then Paul would have got a head start, the government would have no idea who to look for, and Zoil could pin the blame on the two incompetent rookies rather than risk himself.
    • Because if he is sent after Paul, then he can ensure that Paul is not captured. If he claims to not be after them then another agent may be sent after Paul, leading to his capture. Zoil probably assumed that his two underlings wouldn't come to their senses about the situation and that he could simply claim that he didn't get to Paul in time without The Big Guy stepping in. Obviously, he was wrong, but it still worked out in the end as it allowed him to be there to save Paul.
    • Also, Zoil is Paul's friend; he was willing to risk his job and maybe even his life in order to save him. Presumably he'd want to make sure Paul actually got home okay, instead of just trusting his safety to two total strangers.
    • When re-watching, Zoil's actions come across as him trying to run interference for Paul without blowing his cover that he's Paul's accomplice on the inside. He assumes Haggard and O'Reilly are Keystone Kops-ish, and figures he can control them. He wasn't expecting them to grow a pair and try and muscle him out. It's only when they do, and when The Big Guy makes it obvious she's going to head out there herself that he drops the pretense of keeping his cover. First viewing this seems like he's starting to lose it because of the near misses and goes rogue, on the subsequent viewings him shooting out the radio comes across as "screw it, I gotta go make sure he gets away okay."
    • If anything, Zoil's headscratching behavior is keeping the two rookies close, and during that time, belittles the hell out of them any chance he gets. He only tries to cut them loose after O'Reilly actually sees Paul confirming Haggards suspicions that they were chasing an alien, and at that point they're more than happy to try and snag Paul before Zoil to elevate themselves above him. Zoil could have sent them on a wild goose chase, or some other way to misdirect them.
  • If Everyone Is Bi on Paul's planet, then why does he come across as vaguely homophobic when asking Clive if he and Graeme are a couple? Surely if he was comfortable with the concept of homosexuality, he'd just ask instead of resorting to mimes of sex acts.
    • Maybe after spending more than sixty years on a military base, beginning in a time when homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder and sodomy a crime, and having in mind how the military views homosexual behaviour, he may know that some humans feel very awkward when talking about their sexuality. Another alternate explanation is that he is talking about "human homosexuality", we know basically next to nothing about Paul and his species anatomy, so their way of having relationships with the same sex might be radically different from the way humans do. Also, maybe in their planet bisexuality is more like heterosexuality in ours, it is the most common orientation, but maybe not everybody is attracted to both sexes.
    • OR maybe just because he's bi doesn't make asking someone about being a part of sexually active couple any less awkward. After all you don't usually see Mary asking Alice, "So how long have you and Bob been having sex?" Instead it's "So how long have you and Bob been...you know...together?" In other words, the homophobia is all in your head.
      • Or Paul's just a Troll.
  • At the end of the movie, when Paul is inviting Tara to come back to his planet with him, she objects that she didn't bring her toothbrush. Paul responds with: "Baby, where we're going, you won't need teeth." This sounds cool and all until you realise that Paul's species has teeth. Where exactly is he planning on taking her?
  • Evolutionary theory gets brought up quite a lot throughout the course of the movie, so it seems a bit strange that Paul's species in general makes very little evolutionary sense. Their abilities are very physically taxing, don't seem to give much in the way of benefit to them personally, and would offer little to no added benefit in the wild:
    • The instant camouflage at first seems like it would be useful, but if you look at Paul's body plan you realise he's basically a green-skinned primate, meaning his species most likely descended from something that spent a lot of time climbing and moving about in trees. Plus, his eyes are huge, which is usually an indicator of a nocturnal or cave-dwelling species. Being able to turn invisible suddenly seems really pointless when the organism in question is already surrounded by leaves and living in the dark.
      • Unless there are dangerous predators that also live like that. It's possible that Paul comes from a planet, or region of a planet, with a high density of forests and very dangerous creatures both in the trees and on the ground. Then it would make sense for primates to evolve where possible to move about at night and survive by moving carefully through the trees. If the predators then evolved to hunt them more effectively the invisibility power could have come as they developed the psychic abilities.
    • Exposition beaming seems like a great way to share knowledge between individuals, so why do they have spoken language? If you can show someone exactly what you're thinking with a touch, there's no need to develop the ability to talk.
      • It's very taxing, so it'd probably be easier just to talk. Especially since it doesn't seem to be a "this is what I'm thinking" but rather "this is everything I have ever seen or experienced in my entire life" deal, it would be very inconvient to communicate that way.
      • Paul says repeatedly that it's basically the sum of all his knowledge so it's not just a thought beam, it's a literal mind meld with him. This is not an efficient means of communication. I'd assume it's something that's mostly only used to pass down life experience to the next generation of children or to transfer information on a dangerous area or even military action. I doubt it's a part of everyday life at this point.
      • Then what would be the point of developing it? Evolution favours traits that are either beneficial or neutral. A massively tiring psychic ability with a (presumably) very involved internal neural structure making it work just doesn't seem like it would be worth the trouble, especially when everything you can convey with your brain beams can just as easily be said in words. Maybe their offspring have an absurdly limited period of time in which to learn survival skills (like, five seconds) but in that case wouldn't it be easier to just rely on a set of genetically-determined instincts, like reptiles?
    • Lastly, the healing hands ability is not very well explained, but seems to work by transferring the injury to someone else who is capable of surviving it. Excellent for use on humans and birds who don't have Paul's wolverine healing, but next to useless on members of his own species. If everyone on his planet heals from injuries near-instantaneously, then what's the point of transferring wounds at all? By the time something is grave enough to need it, the person you're trying to help will be dead.
      • Maybe it's for younger members of the species who don't heal as quicky?
      • The Healing Hands thing could easily have been a psychic ability that was useful before their bodies got to the point of massive self-regeneration that held over due to the usefulness in keeping children or even pets / livestock alive. Just because it's not useful now doesn't mean that it was never a factor in their lives. Could be like their appendix for all we know and that's why it's so draining on them.
    • Evolution may favor traits that are beneficial or neutral, but that doesn't mean that every trait a species has is necessarily beneficial or neutral, even if they have evolved over the process of billions of years. Evolution isn't a ladder that organisms climb up to become objectively "superior". Sometimes it helps and sometimes it screws us over. Case in point: Wouldn't that agent(and men all around the world) have been better off if his testicles were located inside his body? Why aren't they? Because sperm cells need to be kept cool or else they die. If evolution were as perfect and direct a system as you seem to expect it to be, we would have evolved to the point that such a vulnerability was wiped out of our genetic code.
      • Also people seem to be missing the obvious explanation that they somehow evolved psychic powers in general and these are simply the ones we see in the movie. It's possible there are others we aren't shown, it's possible other people in Paul's race have different abilities or just generally that they simply possess psychic powers in general.
  • Is there any reason not to think the camouflage, Healing Hands, and Exposition Beam were traits they genetically engineered into themselves rather than developed via natural selection? Is there any reason why that can't be called evolution?
    • Because it isn't evolution, its genetic engineering.
      • Though one could take a sort of semantic approach and argue that since the species evolved the ability to genetically engineer themselves, then said genetic engineering is itself a part of their overall evolutionary history. Whether or not you'd consider that true evolution would depend largely on your definition of the term.
    • Well, it could be evolutionary programming.
  • If Paul's Exposition Beam can shove the entire contents of his head into a recipient, then why did the MI Bs need him around for 60 years to advise them?
    • Might be there's more to using his knowledge than just having the knowledge—experience to get the things right.
      • Basic human psychology states that you're more likely to retain knowledge if you understand it. Paul is completely alien (literally) knowledge imparted would be highly confusing and hard to grasp without some guiding hand.
  • How did Paul know Tara still lived in her childhood home? Itís exceedingly rare anymore for someone to spend their entire lives in the same place they were born and/or raised and yet Paulís intuitions to go back to the site of his crash to find her is conveniently the right one.
    • It's not hard to look up where someone currently lives.
  • After the group is caught out in the open after falling asleep in the woods, why don't they figure out the obvious plan that Paul figures out later when Clive stops them to buy the sword? Sending one of either Graeme or Clive to the RV while the other hides out with Paul makes way more sense than trying to walk all the way back with Paul in a really paper-thin disguise.
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