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Popeye Blu-ray Review

“Popeye” is a fun live-action take on the popular character.

Based on the E.C. Segar comics (and the cartoons), “Popeye” is a 1980 live-action musical film adaptation directed by Robert Altman. The story follows a sailor named Popeye who travels to Sweethaven to find his long lost father. Upon arrival, he discovers the town isn’t exactly welcoming. Moreover, the place is riddled with taxes and is run by a Commodore who is never around. A big brute named Bluto basically runs things in his place. Popeye finds a place to stay at the Oyls residence where he meets Olive Oyl. At first they don’t exactly get along, but when the two happen upon a baby (Swee’Pea) they begin to bond and care for the child. This child, however, is no mere baby as he seems to be able to predict the future. This catches the eye of Bluto who kidnaps the child for his own purposes. Can Popeye save the day?

In honor of the film’s 40th anniversary, Paramount has put out a new Blu-ray release of “Popeye.” Although it’s reception has generally been mixed over the years, I’d say the film is long overdue for a revisit as it’s actually a busy and fascinating spectacle. 

“Popeye” really does play like a live-action cartoon that pays homage to both the comics and the cartoons. It’s filled with sight gags, wild sets that look like they are from a cartoon, characters we all know and love, and even songs that would resemble those you’d see in the toons susch as by Harry Nilsson such as “He Needs Me,” “Everything Is Food,” “I’m Popeye The Sailor Man.” At the same time, “Popeye” feels very much like an Altman film (although a much more commercial one). The renowned director really made the material his own all while incorporating the big ensemble cast and dialogue heavy type of movie that he became noted for in his career. 

The casting is note perfect here. Robin Williams really commits to the title role as he completely embodies the beloved sailor character. Paul Dooley gives perhaps my favorite performance as the burger loving Mr. Wimpy. Shelley Duvall was born to play Olive Oyl (of this there is no doubt). Lastly, Paul L. Smith perfectly captures the hulking bearded Bluto. 

The one downside is the script by Jules Feiffer which is a bit of a narrative mess. Although it does a fine job in letting the characters breathe, the story is light and becomes rather absurd with the whole psychic Swee’Pea plotline.


Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? A pristine print of the 1980 film.

Audio Track: Dolby TrueHD 5.1. How does it sound? Viewers can expect a clean audio track.
* Digital copy
* “Popeye” theatrical trailer
* The option to play the songs directly
* Stills from the “Popeye” premiere.
* “The Popeye Company Players” contains cast and crew interviews, film clips, character/actor spotlights, and stills.
* “Return to Sweethaven: A Look Back With Robin And The Altmans” contains behind-the-scenes photos, interviews with Robin Williams and Robert Altman and others, film clips, and discussions about various elements. 

December 28, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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