Popeye, the pipe-chomping, spinach-loving sailor who originally appeared as a comic strip character in 1929, has already spawned one big screen incarnation – Robert Altman's bizarre 1980 live action film with Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall. (Paul Thomas Anderson such a big fan of the original "Popeye" that he included one of the Henry Nilsson-penned songs in his "Punch-Drunk Love.") This new Sony Pictures Animation feature, to be produced by Avi and Ari Arad and written by David Ronn and Jay Schederick, will of course, be released in 3D. Bulging forearms comin' atcha!
Before Tartakovsky gets to "Popeye," though, he's got to finish up with "Hotel Transylvania." We were invited to a special event last week and saw around fifteen minutes of the movie, in various states of completion, and the movie seems like a real hoot, with a set-up ripe for wacky situations – a hotel for monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc.) is accidentally discovered by a fresh-faced human (Andy Samberg) who promptly falls in love with Dracula's vampiric daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). While the scenes we saw were out of context and sometimes unfinished, the movie has a manic energy and strong visual sense – Tartakovsky's background in things like "Samurai Jack" and the final action sequence in "Iron Man 2" (which he conceptualized and helped stage) is totally evident in the way the characters move and the scenes snap into place.
One of the scenes we were shown was when Mavis, on her 118th birthday, is finally ready to leave the hotel. The two just-released photos (courtesy of Hey U Guys) come from this scene. She turns into a bat and is ready to fly out of the hotel when Dracula (Adam Sandler, rocking an indistinguishable, vaguely European accent) makes up some bullshit excuse to keep her around. That Dracula, he's a tricky one!
After so many years without a Tartakovsky feature, we're just happy the dude is regularly making movies. He's one of the most talented and visionary animation directors out there (anyone who saw his brief "Star Wars: Clone Wars" shorts can tell you that they easily trumped Lucas' prequels on all fronts).
"Hotel Transylvania" opens on September 28th. "Popeye" is probably a couple years down the line (Tartakovsky is, at least tangentially, working on a feature-length "Samurai Jack" movie for Warner Bros. as well). Glad we'll be getting regular doses of Tartakovsky goodness for the foreseeable future.