Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hotel Transylvania (2012) Review

Hotel Transylvania poster
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Stars: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Kevin James
Genre: Computer animated family comedy/horror

With Tartakovsky directing, a name that has worked on great series such as Dexter Laboratory, Samurai Jack, among many others. With a resume like that it wouldn't be wrong to expect a great film from him. So does it live up to the hype? Short answer: no.

Count Dracula is voiced by Adam Sandler, who, surprisingly enough, probably does the best job out of the whole cast. When I first heard he would be voicing Dracula I couldn't help but cringe. But in the end he did a decent enough job. Kevin James voices Frankenstein's just imagine Doug Heffernan as a monster. Selena Gomez voiced Dracula's daughter, Mavis, and she delivered a pretty solid performance. The werewolf and the mummy were pretty awful. I found David Spade as the Invisible Man to be pleasantly charming.

If you're a big horror fan, particularly of Universal Monsters, you may either want to see this right away or avoid it completely. On one hand it may be cool seeing all these famous monsters on the screen together. On the other hand it may be like watching your favorite characters being spat on by "family comedy."

The Mummy is fat...yes, fat, and he has a black guy's voice. The Wolf Man never transforms. They call Frankenstein's monster Frankenstein, which as we all know is incorrect; the scientist's name was Frankenstein, not the monster. The Bride of Frankenstein, though voiced by the lovable Fran Drescher (The Nanny), was a huge disappointment. Though the Bride of Frankenstein hardly saw any screen time in the original Frankenstein films, she was still a very memorable and awesome looking character, but in Hotel Transylvania instead of giving a beloved but rarely seen character more screen time, they changed her appearance completely, made her a complete bitch, and only threw her a few lines.

So if you hold your Universal Monsters dear, this film may pain you to watch. 

Dracula and Frankenstein's monster in Hotel Transylvania

The plot is your standard father-daughter story, and though it can be charming at times, it's just boring, predictable, and unoriginal. You know the deal as far as animated comedy plots go.

Speaking of animation, if you couldn't already tell this is CGI, as are most films of the category today. It's not bad, I'd actually call it good. Problem is the overall visual design and art direction of the film. They had the opportunity to create an amazing theme. Look at all the monster movies this film gets its characters from. Remember that eerie gothic laboratory in Frankenstein? Remember the spooky interior of Dracula's castle? The chilling woods in The Wolf Man? The stormy nights of the Invisible Man? All creating great themes and atmospheres with appealing visual sets...well Hotel Transylvania capitalizes on NONE of those possibilities. 

Dracula's castle's interior is kind of cool. It's not spooky or eerie or mood setting, but it has some merit, though not much. The exterior is horrible; it just looks ugly. They couldn't even add good architecture to this film, something early horror flicks did so well.

Hotel Transylvania review

This film isn't a nod or a love letter to the films it borrows from. No, it is a cash-in. The only real references I can recall were Frankenstein's monster saying "Fire bad," and the Fly constantly throwing up. Besides that it is essentially just a typical children's animated film with horror characters. (I understand this is a children's film but there is not even anything mildly scary or creepy).

Not to mention this entire film is a shameless rip-off of Mad Monster Party from 1967. Seriously, watch both films and the similarities will be shocking. From the zombie waiters, the chef character, the ENTIRE IDEA OF THE FILM IS STOLEN FROM MAD MONSTER PARTY.

Don't even get me started on the music bits of this film. In the beginning there was a fairly decent punk-esque song reminiscent of the Misfits. That was cool, and it fit being that the Misfits were a horror-punk band. Then at the end, there is the most stereotypical finale song/dance scene, with Dracula rapping and just more general vandalizing of great characters. There are also mentions of Dave Matthews Band and Slipknot. What is this, the early 00s?

There's a joke making fun of Twilight in here also. It was a cheap, inept joke that was obviously added just for pseudo-cred. I despise Twilight as much as the next guy, but adding modern pop culture references that will be meaningless in a few years is not how you make a timeless classic. At least Twilight didn't shame the Dracula name like this film.

The humor in general is very tasteless. You have the fart jokes and whatnot, nothing at all clever. The bit with the skeleton and his wife I found amusing but that hardly warrants watching this.

I'd avoid this at all costs. If you have kids, there are plenty of family films with horror themes that are way better. I'd much sooner give recently released ParaNorman a view, or look out for the upcoming Frankenweeinie. Hell, show your kids the original Universal Monster films, they'll thank you when they're older.

2/5 stars
+A bunch of famous monsters acting like idiots
-A bunch of famous monsters acting like idiots
-Bad plot
-Missed potential

Purchase Hotel Transylvania on Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD

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