Since first appearing in comic strips back in 1929, Popeye the Sailor Man has endured for generations. Created by E.C. Segar, the character has starred in his own comics, hundred of cartoons, and eventually a feature film in 1980 directed by Robert Altman and starring Robin Williams (in his first film role).
Now the spinach-chomping sailor is poised to return to movie theaters in an all-new animated feature from Sony Pictures Animation, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (Hotel Transylvania). Called simply Popeye, this latest film will utilize today's 3D style of animation, though Tartakovsky has already stressed it will appear "artful" and "unrealistic." Which sounds more akin to the expressive, cartoon-y style of Popeye's original animation house, the famed Fleischer Studios.
With Popeye's release date having already been pushed back twice, Sony Pictures Animation is eager to ease anyone's concern that the film might be in trouble. To do so, they've released the above video featuring Tartakovsky discussing not only his love for the character but his ambitions for this new feature.
Even more important, however, is an early animation test (note: not footage from the film) starring Popeye, his love Olive Oyl, their frenemy Bluto, and even the weird and magical, Eugene the Jeep. Watch the clip above.
When last we reported on Popeye's development, we noted it was Tartakovsky's involvement that interested us most, and for good reason. Tartakovsky is a veteran animator who's worked in traditional 2D animation (Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack) far longer than in the 3D style of today. When Tartakovsky joined Hotel Transylvania he brought with him that knowledge - especially his understanding of how to play physical comedy in animation - and likely saved the film.
A new version of Popeye could easily go awry, if those responsible simply looking to cash-in on the character's name recognition, but this short test signifies Tartakovsky gets Popeye. He understands how to use the ability of animated characters to squash and stretch for our amusement - cleverly utilized throughout this test footage. As long as Popeye's story can be as interesting as the antics Tartakovsky's team will dream up, this new film should do right by the 85-year-old sailor.
What do you think of this Popeye animation test? Is what you're seeing in this test footage in line with what you'll expect from the feature film? Let us hear you think in the comments below!
Popeye is expected in theaters sometime in 2016, but no official release date has been set. Stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates!