Hotel Transylvania review (Blu-ray)

I hope you are sitting down, because something truly shocking is about to happen. I am going to moderately praise a film which prominently features Sandler. Just his voice, mind, but the very fact that he is involved with a film which isn’t the cinematic equivalent of severe food poisoning is truly remarkable. Let’s not get carried away though, this isn’t the greatest film of all time but it has plenty to like.

The story is pretty straightforward. Dracula (Sandler) runs Hotel Transylvania, a holiday destination for monster’s which is far away from humans, of whom the monster’s are massively fearful. This particular weekend see’s the 118th birthday of Dracula’s daughter Mavis (Gomez) however events are thrown into disarray by the arrival of Jonathan (Samberg), a human who takes an instant liking to Mavis. Apparently this is knowing as “zinging”. Dracula attempts to disguise Jonathan as a monster and eject him from the hotel, all while trying to throw the perfect party, obviously that all goes wrong and hilarity ensues.

Being a huge fan Genndy Tartakovsky’s previous work on great cartoons such as Samurai Jack and Star Wars Clone Wars, I had reasonably high hopes for Hotel Transylvania (in spite of Sandler’s involvement) and while it is not the his best work, it is still an enjoyable 91 minutes with some genuinely funny moments.The animation is great and while the characters are not exactly the most original, they have been given a Tartakovsky makeover and most of them are pretty likeable. The 3D is quite subtly used for the most part with a couple of scenes, such as Dracula and Jonathan on flying tables, that look really very good.

Alongside the main story of the birthday party we are told why Dracula has hidden himself away and why he does not want Mavis to go out into the world on her own.  This portion of the film threatens to stray a little too far away from the fun elements but ultimately doesn’t detract from things too much, even if the eventual resolution is spectacularly obvious to anyone over the age of 10. The vocal performance’s are all good, Sandler makes for a good Dracula (feels so wrong praising him) while Samberg has great fun as Jonathan.  Steve Buscemi is also well cast as the broken-spirited Wayne, the mandatory werewolf character, who is struggling to deal with his hyperactive kids.

Despite the plot never straying from the well trodden “over-protective parent” theme, Hotel Transylvania offers just enough to keep the adults entertained, there are some very solid jokes, most notably one great nod to Twilight and the animation and 3D are great. The kids will love the slapstick humour, chase sequences and colourful characters.

EXTRAS ★★★½ An audio commentary with director Tartakovsky, producer Michelle Murdocca and visual effects supervisor Daniel Kramer; the mini-movie Goodnight Mr Foot, directed by Tartakovsky; the Problem (Monster Remix) music video; a behind-the-scenes featurette for the Problem (Monster Remix) video; three deleted scenes; three progression reels; two featurettes - Meet the Staff and Guests: Voicing Hotel Transylvania and Making the Hotel.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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