Having been disappointed by ParaNorman and still waiting to see Frankenweenie I went into Hotel Transylvania with some trepidation. This feeling of weariness was heightened by the fact that I deeply dislike the majority of the voice cast. Even so I went in with an open mind and came out the other side thinking, “meh”. Overall I enjoyed the film more than ParaNorman but the initial conceit, which was a very good idea, couldn’t be sustained for ninety minutes. As a result there were large chunks of the film which were quite boring but were occasionally livened up by a decent joke or some attractively busy animation.
I was really impressed by the sheer number of monsters that were crammed into the film. Well known creatures such as Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame and zombies are joined by the likes of gremlins, yetis, skeletons, the blob, Cyclops, big foot, mummies, talking tarantulas and flies, Hydra and Witches. Most of these characters have just a line or two and other than the odd trait, little personality. Other than the Dracula family, it is only really Mr Werewolf (Steve Buscemi) who has anything to his character. His tired and worn out father character was quite amusing at times. Other jokes were usually obvious or over used such as the blob being bouncy or big foot being large. The zombies were pretty cool though.
The story revolves around Dracula’s attempts to keep his daughter safe from the outside world and he builds all sorts of barriers to stop her from seeing beyond the castle walls. When the human, Jonathan arrives this complicates things for Dracula but the romantic element of the story is pretty dull and uninteresting although my girlfriend thought it was sweet. The film wasn’t nearly funny enough and attempts to make it work on different levels were only partially successful. Children in the audience generally laughed at the fart and bogey jokes but the likes of Frankenstein being afraid of fire went over their heads. There were a few horror references which were appreciated by some but in the end the film seemed to find a middle ground whereby for the most part neither the adults nor children were laughing. The film isn’t completely without good jokes though but missed a trick by naming an airline Air Transylvania. Transylvanair would have been much cleverer and it was so obvious.
The animation was impressive and the design was excellent. My favourite scenes all took place within the hotel lobby area which was full of different creatures and monsters mulling about, causing trouble or trying to enjoy their holiday. Some of the shots of the lobby were so busy that I’m sure there will be things in them that warrant a second or third viewing. Unfortunately the rest of the film doesn’t make this worth your while. There just isn’t enough in the script to satisfy. Something else which left me more than unsatisfied was the soundtrack. It was full of auto tuned; sub Justin Beiber, robot music of the sort which
vomits all over frequents the
charts these days. I found it incredibly irritating. I can kind of see why the
painful music was used as Dracula’s daughter was trying to experience the
modern world but surely once she heard that tripe she’d be flying back to the
castle with earplugs shoved deep inside her ear canals.
Considering the film stars Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Selena Gomez, I liked it a lot more than I should have. Sandler is almost unrecognisable as the vampire with his own voice just creeping through in a couple of scenes. Maybe we won’t have to see or hear him in his future films too? The voices are generally fine but other than Sandler, the only other one I recognised was Buscemi. In the end Hotel Transylvania is a film which starts off with a decent idea but doesn’t quite follow it through to completion. The script is thin but the animation ok and there are just enough gags to keep you entertained for the ninety minutes.