Popeye appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie often looked terrific.
Sharpness worked very well. From start to finish, the film boasted solid delineation, with hardly a soft spot along the way.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Because the flick brought a nice layer of grain, I didn’t suspect problematic use of noise reduction, and print flaws remained minor. A handful of small specks popped up, but the vast majority of the flick looked clean
The palette of Popeye could reflect the dinginess of Sweethaven, but the cartoony palette often leapt to life, and it did so in a vivid manner when appropriate. That meant color that often appeared vivid an full.
Black levels looked dense and deep, and low-light scenes presented good accuracy and clarity. Without the small array of specks, this would’ve been an “A”-level image, as it looked great most of the time.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Popeye worked surprisingly well, and the soundfield seemed broad and involving. Music showed fine stereo separation and imaging for both the songs and the score.
Effects appeared accurately placed across the front spectrum, and they meshed together cleanly. The track also involved a smattering of localized speech, and some of those occasions worked nicely, such as the scene in which Popeye walked from left to right and his voice moved smoothly along with him.
Overall, the track created a good sense of atmosphere, and some of the cartoonier bits came to life well. Fights offered nice elements from the side, and a few scenes brought the surrounds into the action as well.
The rear speakers didn’t play a major role in the proceedings, but they were more active than I expected for a film of this vintage. Music provided most of the elements from the surrounds, but a few sequences brought the back channels into the film. I even noticed a little split-surround material, such as when a character flew from the front to the rear right.
Audio quality mostly sounded fine. Probably the track’s biggest weakness stemmed from a preponderance of bad dubbing.
From what I understand, most of Williams’ original dialogue was inaudible as recorded, so he needed to do a massive amount of looping. This fact became abundantly clear as I watched the movie, for Williams’ lines often blended poorly with the action.
Some other dialogue – mostly Bluto’s – also demonstrated weak dubbing, but otherwise the speech seemed reasonably natural. I noticed no issues due to intelligibility or edginess.
The rest of the track was quite good. Some light distortion greeted a few effects, but they mostly sounded acceptably accurate and distinctive.
Bass response worked really well on some occasions, such as Bluto’s roar of anger when Olive jilted him. Not only did that bellow fill all five speakers nicely, but also it rocked my subwoofer with surprising vigor.
Music seemed clean and vibrant and also showed pretty nice range. Although the audio of Popeye didn’t match up with modern tracks, it seemed very good for its age, so I gave it a “B+”.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2003? The BD”s lossless audio showed similar scope but it displayed stronger range and impact.
As for the visuals, the old DVD looked good for the format, but the Blu-ray clearly topped it. This disc brought superior definition and colors, and it also lost most of the modest print flaws of the DVD. Expect a nice upgrade here.
No extras appeared on that old DVD, but a few pieces arrive on the Blu-ray, and we start with Return to Sweethaven, a 13-minute, 29-second reel. It brings comments from director Robert Altman, prop master Stephen Altman, and actor Robin Williams. While Stephen’s comments come from 2020, Robert’s stem from 1999 and Williams’ from 2014.
“Return” covers the adaptation of the source, visual design and makeup, music, sets and locations, and the movie’s release/reception. It’s too bad we don’t hear from a broader array of participants, but we get a decent mix of notes here.
The Popeye Company Players runs nine minutes, 34 seconds and features Robert Altman, Williams and Stephen Altman. As expected, we get thoughts about cast and performances. This becomes another enjoyable piece but also one that could use additional perspectives.
Next comes Popeye’s Premiere, a two-minute, 40-second reel that offers stills from the December 6, 1980 opening. It becomes a good compilation of stills, though it could use text to identify the participants, as many celebs now seem tough to recall and name.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with The Sailor Man Medleys. This simply allows you to go straight to any of the movie’s 12 musical numbers, and you can also choose “Play All” to watch them as one big package. This does nothing for me, but fans may enjoy it.
How could so many talented people make a movie as genuinely atrocious as Popeye? That question will remain a mystery, so we find ourselves left with a nearly unwatchable movie. The Blu-ray brings strong picture and audio along with a handful of bonus features. While I find don’t care for the movie, fans will feel delighted with its excellent presentation on this Blu-ray.
To rate this film visit the original review of POPEYE