Movie Review: Hotel Transylvania (2012, Dir. Genndy Tartakovsky)

hotel transylvania - Won Cannes

I have always been a fan of animation. As a kid, it was mostly Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, and The Pink Panther to name a few. Hitting my teens, Japanese animation (aka anime) was introduced to me in the form of Star Blazers, Battle of the Planets, and Robotech.

As of this writing I am currently 43 and I still love animation, but recently my tastes been solely confined to mostly anything Marvel and DC can create for TV and direct-to-DVD movies. Little did we all know, once CGI technology became the norm not only would it change the landscape of movies, but it would also effect  traditional animation. Thankfully, despite all the studio effort to do away with the old time-consuming style, it still manages to thrive.

I have never been a Disney fan, talking animals just aren’t my thing. Even as a child, they never did a damn thing for me. The only Disney movie I own is The Incredibles (2005), which has no anthropomorphic mammals. All the characters are humans, and the film is essentially an homage to Marvel/DC superhero teams. Coraline (2009), The Last Unicorn (1982), and A Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), are the closest movies I like, and own, that tread that trademark “whimsical-talking-animal-concept.” And with those movies I draw the line.

My mother, on the other hand, is a staunch fan of all those talking animal CGI flicks, and refuses to watch anything that has a higher ratio of humans to talking animals. So, when this Hotel Transylvania movie appeared this summer she surprisingly expressed some interest in it. I decided I would take one for the team, and get a copy of it so my mother would have one more movie to add to her collection.

I’ll be honest, I was not looking forward to watching it, anticipating something made more for children, but, hey, it’s monsters and not animals, so I figured I might be able to stomach it. I completely misunderstood and underestimated this movie. It was fun, very well animated, as most of these 21st century “CGI toons” generally are, had an engaging and relatable plot, not to mention being hilarious where it needed to be, which was pretty much everywhere.

The plot is fairly straightforward; it’s about Dracula (Adam Sandler) wanting to keep his daughter sheltered from the outside world due to a terrible event in the 1800s where he lost his wife at the hands of humans. You know how we all were back then. Primitive and fearing all we didn’t understand. Come to think of it, we’re still like that. So, he builds this Castle/hotel and over the centuries it becomes a haven for all monsters in need of some kind of sanctuary where they can be themselves and not have to worry about maniacal primates seeking their heads.

Cut to present day, and the very day of Dracula’s daughter’s, Mavis’ (Selena Gomez), 118th birthday, when the who’s who of monster society shows up at the hotel. The main players are Frankenstein (Kevin James), his “Bride” Eunice (Fran Drescher), the Wolf Man, Wayne (Steve Buscemi), the Mummy, Murray (CeeLo Green), and the Invisible Man, Griffin (David Spade).

All goes as planned for Drac, even when Mavis confronts him prepared to argue her point about being old enough to finally venture out into the world, but a monkey wrench gets thrown into it all when a human being by the name of Jonathon (Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the castle, and saunters right in. Dracula knows nothing of what modern day humans are like, but has demonized them over the centuries to all his monster friends during this annual get together, making them fear the humans just as much as he does.

Dracula must keep Jonathon and Mavis apart after they lock eyes and fall head over heels for each other during a moment of slapstick comedy. He comes up with a rather ingenious plan of disguising him as a monster, and as a long lost cousin of Frank’s, while he tries to get the boy out of the castle and out of their lives.

The 1.85.1 anamorphic transfer looks gorgeous, and the 5.1 DTS-HD audio I didn’t once have a problem with. There’s also an English Audio Descriptive Service for the hearing impaired, and even subtitles for the commentary. Subtitles, in general, are as follows: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

This movie comes in three variations: standard DVD, Blu-Ray/DVD+Digital Copy and the Blu-Ray 3D/Blu-Ray/DVD+Ultraviolet Digital Copy. The last one is what Sony sent me to review. I don’t have a 3D TV, so this review will be for the blu-ray.

You get three separate discs in the “deluxe version,” and while the bulk of the extras follow through on all three discs, the 3D blu and the standard blu have extras exclusive to them, which come in the form of three featurettes: “Meeting The Staff And Guests: Voicing Hotel Transylvania” (6:28), this is exactly what the title suggests. You meet the actors and actresses who voiced their respective characters. “Making The Hotel” (3:44), is basically the kind of featurette you’d see on HBO, giving you a quick overall look at the movie. And, finally, ‘Progression Reels’ (8:04), you can play them all, or separately—Genndy Blur (2:44), Mavis Ventures Out (1:32), Look Of Picture (3:58). The first two targets the CGI animation; the last one is about, well, the look of the movie.

Now, for the rest of the features, these can be found on all three discs: ‘Goodnight Mr. Foot’ (6:21), is a short directed and animated by Genndy Tartokovsky that follows Bigfoot, or a sasquatch-like creature, coming to the castle to try and get a good night sleep. It’s done in traditional animation style.

There are also 3 Deleted Scenes (6:21), which can be played all at once of separately—Prologue (3:43), Shadows (1:03), Caught In The Act (1:47). The first and last are basically storyboards, those two scenes never made into production, but Shadows did. It shows some of the monsters secretly leaving their homes to travel to the Hotel.

‘Problem (Monster Remix) (3:27) is the video for the song heard during the final credits. It’s sung by some chick named, Becky G, and will I am. ‘Behind The Scenes of Problem (Monster Remix) (2:20) is pretty much self-explanatory.

Rounding out all the discs are previews for The Smurfs 2, Author Christmas, The Pirates: Band of Misfits, and Adventure In Zambezia.

The final extra is a commentary with Director, Genndy Tartakovsky, Producer, Michelle Murdocca and Visual Effects Supervisor, Danial Kramer. As I expected the talk was mostly a technical one, focusing on the animation. The most notable fact they brought up was that this movie was kicking around Hollywood for the past six years. Always getting into pre-production but never any farther. And I had no idea who this Gennedy Tartakovsky was. He mentioned he was involved with the TV show Samurai Jack, so I looked him up on IMDB, and before this movie he was mostly an animator/writer/producer, on that aforementioned show, as well as Tiny Toons, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Dexter’s Laboratory to name a few.

This movie hit me out of left field and I loved it. Current news states that the sequel is going to be released in 2015. I’m looking forward to it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

From Around The Web: