Monday, October 22, 2012

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA - Monsters have feelings too.

With a poor week of cinema releases, and not having seen the other Paranormal Activity films, we ended up going the completely opposite end of the spectrum and saw a children's animation film. Now over the years children's animation films have got better and better. Since Toy Story the cartoon films have been more popular and appealing within a large array of audiences, not just the children. Hotel Transylvania is another of these films that is based mainly for children but had more than enough appeal for the adult viewers. With a great voice cast, including Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, and Steve Buscemi, this film was put out there to bring a different take on a story just in time for Halloween. With all the ghost, ghouls, and goblins soon to be on show, and all the horror films being released, this felt like a fun version of it all.

The story follows the world of Dracula, voiced by Sandler. After the death of his wife he has hated humans with a passion. So much so that at all costs he attempts to keep his daughter away from them, even by telling her they may be hiding under your bed at night. Over the years Dracula has spread stories that humans hate monsters so much that they will kill them if they have the chance, so to help his fellow beings Dracula creates a hotel hidden in the wilderness which is for monsters only. No humans allowed. Each year he celebrates his daughter's birthday in style and invites the usual guests to his hotel. We have Frankenstein, Mummy, Wolf, Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman, and many more who wish to get away from mundane life, much like humans do, and spend a weekend with their kind. Dracula's dream hotel however finds a problem when his plan to frighten his daughter off wanting to see the world inadvertently allows a human into the hotel. Jonathan is his name and he literally wants a bed for the night as he is tired of following the lights that lead him to this hotel, but Dracula can't allow this. If the monsters found him they would feel unsafe, if he threw Jonathan out he would tell others, and if he kills him he would ruin years of his legacy. The only option is to disguise him but all goes wrong when Dracula's daughter begins to fall for him.

Watching the trailer I thought this seemed like a really interesting premise and could be a lot of fun. Granted it has a slight hint of Monsters Inc. with the monster being afraid of humans aspect, but it is fun to see all the usual monsters people tell their children about in stories on the screen feeling just the same about us. These aren't the scary monsters people think of, they are ordinary in their world. Everything they do is human like, even the Father Wolf who is kept awake all night by his children and when he finally falls asleep the alarm goes off. A lot of it is true to real life but not in the way we know it, with a big twist. It does work in that sense and the characters are really likeable and the voice cast are all pretty good. It has some great in jokes also that will tickle an adult audience watching. There are the usual visual gags that will have kids in hysterics but there are jokes that refer to Twilight that will have the adult audience chuckling in appreciation.

Despite it being fun and a good story it does fall short in the final third. The rest of the film is a laugh and it is nice to see the direction these characters are going, and the visuals also look good, however the film takes a sudden corny turn towards the end of the second act and it becomes a typical cartoon film with a hidden message whereas before that it wasn't slapped across the screen and thrown in your face. The final third's dialogue became 'on the nose' and 'moral meaning' when the rest of the film was just plain fun and that is what lets this movie down. Not many animated films seem to live up to the ones that are already made and unfortunately this one that starts so promisingly also doesn't make the cut.

It is easy to see why this was made, an interesting idea, some moments stolen but told in a unique way, some good visuals, and some great voice talent on show, it is just disappointing that a film that had such great reasons to be made turned out to be a slightly average cartoon flick, one that won't really be remembered and will be overshadowed by many other cartoon films coming out around this time. It will give children everything it needs to and it has an easy to follow story from a child's perspective so in that sense it works but as an adult watching it slowly became too easy and the story was spelled out for you. This is what made the likes of Finding Nemo, Shrek, Toy Story, Monsters Inc. etc so good; they appealed to both children and adults where Hotel Transylvania got to the halfway point and decided that it had done enough work and unfortunately it hadn't.

Pros: Nice idea, good voice talent, and some good chuckles along the way.

Cons: Lost its way in the second half and became corny and cliched.

5.5 / 10

Top 10 of 2012 so far:

1. The Dark Knight Rises     10 / 10
2. The Hunger Games     8 / 10
3. Snow White And The Huntsman     8 / 10
4. Avengers Assemble     7.5 / 10
5. Looper     7.5 / 10
6. Ted     7.5 / 10
7. 21 Jump Street     7.5 / 10
8. Lawless     7 / 10
9. The Expendables 2     7 / 10
10. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol     7 / 10

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