Hotel Transylvania: Transformania and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios
Directed by Jennifer Kluska & Derek Drymon
The Hotel Transylvania series is probably my favorite ongoing animated franchise of the last decade which SOUNDS like high praise, but there’s definitely a bit of backhanded-ness to that compliment. The first one is the only film I would classify as a masterpiece, and frankly, any animated series still getting theatrical (or theatrical-ish) distribution past the first sequel are becoming increasingly rare. Even Disney who have been churning out nostalgia bait for years now are at least keeps it diverse by giving each series one sequel or remake instead of putting all their eggs in one property’s basket, so while I can respect Hotel Transylvania for keeping itself going for as long as it has, each sequel is a bit more foreboding than the last, and the fact that Sony is opting to give this to Amazon Prime instead of going for a theatrical run (despite the films being huge moneymakers) is not what I would call a good sign. Still, the money is still there as the trailers looked very well animated, and the strange machinations of studio politics behind the scenes are hardly a barometer of quality! Does this manage to reach the dizzying heights of the original film, or are we dizzy because the franchise is in a tailspin? Let’s find out!!
Much like the film series itself, the titular Hotel Transylvania has been going on and on for a very long time, so Dracula (Brian Hulf) has decided that it is time to retire and plans on giving the hotel to Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) so he can spend more time with his new wife Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). Mavis and Johnny catch wind of this however, and Dracula gets spooked once he sees Johnny starting to flip out in his overly enthusiastic manner, so Dracula changes course and will continue to run the place; coming up with a lie that he can’t hand it over to Johnny since he is a human. Naturally, Johnny figures the only way to fix this is to turn into a monster himself, and oh look! Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) happens to have some sort of crystal that turns humans into monsters and monsters into humans. Through wacky shenanigans and poor luck on Drac’s part, he and his monster pals Frank, Murry, Wayne, and Griffin (Brad Abrell, Keegan-Michael Key, Steve Buscemi, and David Spade) while Johnny becomes a lizard guy, and none of this can be reversed because the crystal broke. Instead, Johnny and Drac are going to need to find a new crystal which is hidden in a South American Rainforest, and naturally Mavis is kept in the dark about all of this because that’s how Dracula handles things despite three movies now telling him that’s not the best course of action. Will Johnny and Drac succeed in their quest for the crystal, and will Drac gain a newfound respect for Johnny along the way? How long can Frank, Murray, Wayne, and Griffin keep this secret from everyone else, and will Ericka and Mavis just sit around doing nothing while their respective husbands are missing? Speaking of sitting around and doing nothing, wasn’t there a kid in these movies at one point? Eh, probably not important!Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania”