Hotel Transylvania – The Bleeding Cool Review

Hotel Transylvania opened yesterday in the UK. Jet lag meant this review, by Dominic Frisby, was scheduled badly. Oops.

Still, here’s Dominic’s take on this as a man who spends a lot of time, and energy, on wrangling his young kids in the cinema. A street-level, light wallet, bad-back version of movie reviewing.

One of the secrets of successful kids’ films is that they have to work on two levels. Two different sets of people have to be entertained by them. The kids – and their parents.

Hotel Transylvania does this in spades.

My kids declared it’s the best of the films Bleeding Cool have taken us to – “except possibly Cars 2″ said the hardest-to-please of them – while I, Dad, loved it.

The big reversal in this premise is that in the world of Hotel Transylvania, monsters are not the persecutors, but the persecuted. They have to hide from humans who don’t understand them and make their lives just miserable. They’ve been hiding for tens of years, if not hundreds.

The Hotel Transylvania itself is a lavish, five-star-plus resort, that caters for every monster’s every possible need. Its proprietor is Count Dracula himself, voiced by Adam Sandler in a rather hammy Eastern European accent… though to be fair to him – and this is me with my voiceover hat on – it’s hard to do an Eastern European accent and not sound hammy.

And let’s face it, this is a comedy. So, Adam Sandler, you are not being criticized, just, perhaps, gently chided.

It’s his daughter, Mavis’ 118th birthday – her coming of age – and Dracula has invited every monster to celebrate. And so, every creature from the annals of horror comes to visit, if they’re not already working at the hotel. Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, Quasimodo, a Suit of Armour, the Fly, a Hydra, zombies, werewolves, skeletons, gremlins – you name it. And gag after gag, reference after to reference abound to keep happy the lovers of horror movies of old.

But Dracula is a bit of a control freak, see, and somehow the human Jonathan, an adventurous, fun-loving, young American back-packer-type, stumbles into the resort. Dracula can’t possibly have a human in the castle. What on earth would monsters think? There’d be panic, mayhem, chaos. They’re terrified of humans. Dracula’s reputation would be ruined.

Cue lots of failed attempts to get rid of him, followed by farcical attempts* to disguise him as another monster. Some monsters suspect something is up, others just fall for this chap – he’s the life and soul of the party. And Dracula’s daughter Mavis? Yup. She falls in love with him.

Just like, as it turns out, Dracula had fallen for a human all those years ago.

This is one of those films where they appear to have got everything right. The story’s good. The characters are good. The animation’s great. The voices are good. And I suspect it’s going to make a lot of money for somebody. I can see all sorts of commercial spin-offs coming; toys from the movie will, no doubt, soon be adorning the bedrooms of children around the world, bringing lots of business to Chinese factories.

So, the short of it is this, if you’ve got kids, take them. And if you don’t, well, lighten up, go along anyway and have some fun.

Hats off to Colombia Pictures and Sony; to director Genndy Tartakovsky; and writers Peter Baynham , Robert Smigel, Todd Durham, Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman.

*I mean farcical as a compliment.

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