Three-for-One: Popeye (1980), Source Code (2011), Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Starting a new series to review as many films as possible – the three-for-one. Three reviews in one piece, all capsule, to get as many thoughts down as humanely possible. Expect more of this format.

Popeye (1980): ☆☆☆☆

Director: Robert Altman

Screenplay: E.C. Segar, Jules Feiffer

I caught the second half of Popeye and now need to watch the entire film. Robin Williams is a perfect Popeye and Shelley Duvall a perfect Olive Oyl. The music is charming. The performances are delightful, with pretty accurate costuming and makeup. The set designs are reminiscent of the animated world and feels as if that same cartoonish setting came to life here. I would’ve told you a Popeye adaptation would’ve never worked, but credit to a filmmaking legend in Robert Altman proving me wrong. 

Source Code (2011): ☆☆½

Director: Duncan Jones

Screenplay: Ben Ripley

Unsure if the mechanics of the plot fully work with Source Code. It’s an inherently interesting concept placing the audience in a time loop where more information is gradually released after every eight-minute loop. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers a surprisingly empathetic lead performance in what feels like a more gimmicky than genuine role, but he brings out the humanity from this one-track idea. He makes it a layered experience with his fluctuating emotion and understanding. Nonetheless, the plot device gets old quickly, and doesn’t evolve

Avatar: The Way of Water: ☆☆½

Director: James Cameron

Screenplay: James Cameron

I’ll be blunt and not hide any feelings – Basic ass story. Basic ass characters. Unbelievably imaginative and vivid visuals, as expected from a Jim Cameron cinematic experience, but difficult to say I gained anything from this experience. The antagonist is rough and a caricature of a suicidal army general while running through every military trope in the book. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) barely makes an impression, but isn’t as wooden as the first film. The pacing is terrible and the runtime is overlong. I do admire the scenes showing genuine humanity through their connection with nature, the Whales, but then later they become repetitive with Cameron returning to that well far too often. My mind is left blank with surface level exploration of family. It genuinely leaves no impression and will likely fade from my consciousness in time because of how generic the storytelling comes across. Additionally, I find the worldbuilding so lackluster for how much Cameron relies on it to tell the story. It’s both an afterthought and somehow the emphasis on the script, making for unbalanced macro writing.


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