Thoughts on Popeye and a review of the Bond film “Skyfall”

Saw the latest Bond movie, a really superior popcorn movie with great stunts. Solid performances, creative staging by director Sam Mendes to re-invent the familiar, exotic locations, high quality tech elements and a well written, intelligent script are some of the reasons for this creative success.

It puts one foot in the Bond past (e.g. the Aston Martin gets a big cameo amongst many nods to previous iconic Bond tropes and gadgets), while modernizing technology, attitudes toward woman (a bit) and even “stooping” so screenplay 101 to do a little character development… the only quibble was that the wit was not as pervasive as some previous 007 entries instead replaced with a melancholia about getting old and changing times. “Skyfall” actually threatened to be deep on occasion but fortunately something goofily over-the-top intruded and brought the film back into the realm of escapist fun.

But here’s an odd reaction I had during the opening action scene where civilian health and life are treated in a typically cavalier manner as the British agents chase the bad guy: I kept thinking about Popeye. When I was a kid, I watched Popeye cartoons on TV just because that’s what was on – but I disliked Popeye. I have a distinct memory of Popeye rescuing Olive Oil, who was tied to some train tracks, by punching the train, causing it to crunch into itself. I didn’t say to myself, “Thank god, Olive Oil was rescued.” No, I said, “There were people on that train and Popeye just killed them.” That was how my brain already worked at 5 years old.

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