Hotel Transylvania Blu-ray Review

Ah, 118…It’s that milestone age when every vampire girl is old enough to take daddy’s hearse out for a spin, and wants to get out and see what else the world has to offer. But that’ll never happen for Dracula’s daughter if he never lets her out.

Adam Sandler in Hotel Transylvania

On the night of her 118th birthday, Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) tells her overprotective father, Dracula (Adam Sandler), that it’s time for her to leave her home and live the life of every other supercentenarian. Dracula, fearing contact with {GASP!} humans, will have none of it and so constructs a faux version of the outside world, complete with torch-bearing villagers.

The plan works, until a (stoner?) backpacker (Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel and threatens Mavis’s innocence and the sanity of Dracula and his many spooky guests. These visitors include a number of horror staples: There’s Frank(enstein’s Monster) (Kevin James), werewolf Wayne (Steve Buscemi), mummy Murray (Cee Lo Green), invisible man Griffin (David Spade). There are also witches, skeletons, zombies, a Bigfoot, and on and on. (Let’s just hope the monsters don’t find out the backpacker isn’t really Johnny-stein.)

Adam Sandler in Hotel Transylvania

The script of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, written by Peter Baynham and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE legend Robert Smigel, has a great concept that could allow for a lot of hijinks. Imagine seeing the creatures partake in bingo and charades and water aerobics. Or hearing Frankenstein, imitation Wolf Man and imitation Mummy in a three-piece band. How funny could all of that be?

Adam Sandler in Hotel Transylvania

Oh, wait, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA has all of that. Turns out, none of it is funny. Getting Dracula and Frankenstein and the other horror staples together can be a great time (see: THE MONSTER SQUAD), but when they’re simplified and acting so far out of character (read: human), then they lose their appeal. Simply reversing the elements by making monsters do things that we do (relaxing in a sauna!; playing chicken in the hotel pool!) isn’t good enough to pass as solid humor. Neither are the childish jokes (the first ten minutes boasts a stream of poop, fart and clogged toilet gags) and lame puns (so, monsters put scream cheese on their food…).

Adam Sandler in Hotel Transylvania

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA is clearly designed specifically for kids. Will they like it? They might get some laughs (knock-off Mummy using Autotune?), but adults will find that taking the little ones to see it in theaters will be a waste of time and money (especially if paying to see it in 3D). There are much better and more creative horror-related animated movies from 2012, like FRANKENWEENIE and PARANORMAN, both of which got Oscar nominations. There are even older animated horror-themed crossovers that parents could and should introduce their kids to, like Rankin/Bass’s MAD MONSTER PARTY.

For its very specific subgenre, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA sits somewhere between ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS MEET FRANKENSTEIN and ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS MEET THE WOLF MAN.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. As with the vast majority of high-definition transfers of computer-animated films, this one for HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA is without flaw. The picture is rich in detail, from the castle’s exterior walls and various rooms to Dracula’s cape and Johnny-stein’s hair.

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. The audio transfer is also great, with a steady kid-friendly atmosphere courtesy of clarity and character in the score, songs and sound effects.

Commentary with director Genndy Tartakovsky, producer Michelle Murdocca and visual effects supervisor Daniel Kramer: The trio delves into a variety of behind-the-scenes subjects, making this a highly informative track that covers all of the detailed-oriented aspects that were left out of the featurettes.

GOODNIGHT MR. FOOT (4:07) is an animated short featuring Bigfoot.

Deleted Scenes (6:21): There are three here: “Prologue,” “Shadows” and “Caught in the Act.”

Meet the Staff and Guests: Voicing HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (6:29): This featurette focuses on the large cast of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, which includes Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, David Spade, Kevin James, and so many more. Included are interviews and footage of the stars in the recording studio.

Making the Hotel (3:44) looks at the work the animation team put into the characters and settings of the movie.

Progression Reels (8:04): These three segments (“Genndy Blur,” “Mavis Ventures Out,” “Look of Picture”) illustrate the various stages of animation, with looks at drawings, computer graphics and final shots.

Music Video for Becky G and Will.I.Am’s “Problem (Monster Remix)” and an accompanying Behind the Scenes (TIME) featurette.

Previews.

Also included is a DVD.

OVERALL 2.5
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