Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hotel Transylvania 3D

Monsters Are People, Too!

★ ★ ★ ★ out of 5 buckets | Matinee and DVD

Rated: PG Action, scary images, and mild rude humor
Release Date: September 28, 2012
Runtime: 1 hour 31 minutes

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Writers: Peter Baynham, Robert Smigel, Todd Durham, Dan and Kevin Hageman
Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, CeeLo Green, Jon Lovitz, Brian George

SYNOPSIS: Centuries ago, Count Dracula builds a lavish hotel for all monsters to travel to for vacations without worry of dangerous human interference. 118 years later, his daughter Mavis yearns to go out into the world. With Dracula's daughter trying to leave and human Jonathan discovering the hotel, Dracula struggles to maintain control over his daughter, the hotel guests, and the unruly, strange human hiker.

REVIEW: Writer/director/producer of such Cartoon Network animations as Samurai Jack, Dexter's Laboratory, and Star Wars: Clone Wars, Russian-born Genndy Tartakovsky is well versed with dynamic cartoon characters and stories
. Written by the team of Peter Baynham (Arthur Christmas), SNL's Robert Smigel (Don't Mess With The Zohan), based on a story idea from Todd Durham, and Dan and Kevin Hageman, we are treated with life of monsters from their own point of view.
In the late 1800s, Count Dracula (Adam Sandler, That's My Boy) coos over his infant daughter Mavis and overlooks construction of a beautiful, hidden castle/hotel deep in the mountain plains of Transylvania. When Mavis (Selena Gomez, Monte Carlo) turns 118 years old, she reminds her father on the eve of another one of his lavishly planned birthday parties that she was promised that she could venture out into the human world. With all of her close family friends at the hotel for the occasion - including Uncle Frankenstein (Kevin James, Grown Ups) and Aunt Eunice (Fran Drescher, The Nanny),  Wayne (Steve Buscemi, Grown Ups) and Wanda (Molly Shannon, Casa de mi Padre) Werewolf and their kids, Murray the Mummy (Ceelo Green, The Voice), and Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade, Jack and Jill) - Mavis decides to forsake her dreams of traveling into the human world. But when a human named Jonathan (Andy Samberg, That's My Boy) manages to find the hotel by accidental luck and encounters Mavis, the Count does everything in his powers to try and get rid of the young man, including disguising Jonathan as a monster named Johnny Stein, using fear to scare him off, and using his mind powers.

Tartakovsky is well-versed in dynamic animated writing and direction, and seems to be the perfect director to bring undead monsters to life. With excellent 3D effects and a humorous and sweet story, Hotel Transylvania 3D is fun for the entire human family. When monsters have all of the same issues as us vacationing humans, you can't help but giggle or smile at the same issues that we have been through ourselves. Humanizing the monsters who fear humans makes for a funny and endearing story.

With a controlling vampire being the proprietor of the Hotel he built, plus the father and protector of the daughter he loves, Dracula is a controlling, undead boss and parent obsessed with keeping his fellow monsters and daughter safe from the rampaging humans who only offer torches and pitchforks against them. The Hotel Transylvania is a refuge and oasis for all monsters, allowing them to unwind in old world luxury and service without fear or worry. But with any traveling families, couples, or individuals, there are always the normal vacationing problems. Wayne Werewolf has a litter of growing pups that tear, pee, and race all over the place, plus a wife with another litter on the way. His howling days are behind him, but he does want to kick it with his friends Drac and Frank! The Invisible Man finds himself as a disadvantage when playing Charades, one of Dracula's planned Hotel activities. Frankenstein's wife Eunice nags him about wanting tandem spa treatments, asking Frank if he even scheduled any of the things she wanted to do.

The voice talent that Sandler assembles for the film is most of his usual suspects, each perfect for the roles they play. Kevin James is great as the gentle flower picking Frankenstein with Fran Drescher as his high-pitch voiced bride. Sandler himself embodies all of the stereotyped inflections of the Universal Studios monster vampire. Buscemi is great as the worn-out werewolf father of dozens. David Spade's Invisible Man is a treat as the prim and proper transparent man who still is self-conscious of his appearance. CeeLo Green wraps up the voice of Murray the Mummy like a present. Selena Gomez's voice comes shining through like the morning sun as the anxious and dream-filled young vampire Mavis. And Andy Samberg voice for the unsure, but 'rolling with it' Jonathan is just what Samberg is best at - being Andy Samberg. Upbeat, silly, and looking for a fun time, Samberg's Johnny Stein just wants to experience life wherever his feet take him and his backpack.  

The characters are silly caricatures of the monsters we grew up with, from Bigfoot to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, from Frankenstein to Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz), from a classic Greek mythical Hydra to gargoyles and witches who serve as waitstaff and housekeepers. Only the Invisible Man is drawn the way you expect - just kidding! Griffen still wears swim trunks around the hotel pool. The scenes are beautifully rendered, and the use of 3D is superb. The sweeping camera fly-throughs are dizzying and exciting, the magical effects of Mavis changing from vampire girl to bat are colorful and near-mystical, the swirling mist, long shadows, and flickering torchlight adding ambience and depth. The film is fun to watch and the story is funny, exciting, and touching.

Hotel Transylvania 3D is a fun and touching broom-stick ride through the long, tight corridors of a medieval castle that doubles as a 5-star vacation destination. In the hotel suites, monsters struggle with their unruly kids, have money issues, face discriminations, and feel love and suffer loss. Dracula may be a bloodsucker, but he still only want what's best for his daughter.

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