In Hotel Transylvania, Count Drac (Adam Sandler) is a very nice vampire who cares about nothing else in the world but protecting his lovely daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from the horror of heartless, blood-thirsty humans outside the walls of his hotel. He turns into a scary red faced monster when provoked, but instantly reverts to his good old self, harmless, a little cheesy, with a thick accent and an aversion to fattening, unhealthy human blood. The unruly teenage girl won’t have any of it, of course.
Drac has built a hotel to protect the long-suffering monsters of the world from the mobs of humans, out to burn, spike or shoot the poor ghouls, and Hotel Transylvania is set when the many former clients of Drac’s arrive for the lavish 118 birthday of Mavis, the goth vampire princess that never left the castle. But the world knocks on the door of hotel Transylvania any way – in the shape of a dorky hipster Jonathan (Andy Samberg) who manages to backpack into the spooky forest following a pack of zombies. Instead of killing the hiker on the spot, Drac dresses him up as a monster only to be forced later to keep Jonathan from his beloved Mavis. Every kid knows what happens as a consequence, so I don’t have to tell you.
The monsters in Hotel Transylvania are anything but monstrous: zombies are docile and sad-looking, the mummy (Cee Lo Green) looks like a giant happy face wrapped in a white sheet, the wolf father (Steve Buscemi) surrounded with countless offspring is easy to relate to (he lost his sense of smell from all the nappy changing), Frankenstein (Kevin James) is so kind-hearted he doesn’t remember how to be scary anymore, the Invisible Man (David Spade) never takes advantage of his power in a monstrous way, and so on. In short, director Genndy Tartakovsky (The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack) keeps the humor kid-appropriate and his use of 3D is also targeted towards a younger audience (things run, things fly, things jump). In terms of themes, parallels can be drawn with smash hit human/superhuman love stories (cannot wait to see Warm Bodies, by the way) but those parallels are only perfunctory; the picture doesn’t pretend to be smart or tasteful like the gorgeous Frankenweenie, and is completely risk-free (in the end Count Drac raps, for God’s sake).
The Blu-ray of Hotel Transylvania features a 1080p/AVC-encoded (MVC-encoded for 3D) presentation in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The 3D really helps the colourful characters stand out and the action scenes to be more engaging. The levels of black are strong, the vivid colors pop and the picture is crisp, outlining every detail in this retro TV style animation.
Hotel Transylvania comes with lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound, and it does the job the way it should, immersing the viewer into the loony world of the movie, with songs and raps really booming, while ambient sounds creating the necessary atmosphere for the monster pic. Dialogue is always intelligible (if you care to hear incessant jokes about bodily functions).
For a movie so much centered around the needs of a kiddie audience, Hotel Transylvania surely has a lot of extras to offer. First, there is the “Commentary with Director Genndy Tartakovsky, Producer Michelle Murdocca, and Visual Effects Supervisor Daniel Kramer”, which is a great way to learn more about the process that the viewers never get to see. “Goodnight Mr. Foot” is a short animated film, that is set in the same hotel but is focused on different characters – this is will be fun for kids to watch.
“Deleted Scenes” features the usual outtakes that didn’t end up in the final cut; one scene is a more detailed look at the love story of Count Drac and his late wife – not sure who this is intended for, but fans of the film may find it entertaining.
The Blu-ray also features “Problem (Monster Remix)” music video by Becky G featuring will.i.am, as well as Behind the Scenes of “Problem (Monster Remix)”.
“Progression reels” is an extensive commentary on the technical aspects of making the animation, and is targeted towards a narrower audience (animation professionals, fans, wannabes, and so on).
“Making the Hotel”, “Meet the Staff” and “Guests: Voicing Hotel Transylvania” are all featurettes are all focused on technical issues, acting, voicing and behind-the-scenes decision making that went into the process of shooting this animation. A UV Digital Copy is also included.
Verdict: If your kid found burps and farts funny before they will seem even funnier after watching this picture. One side effect of watching Hotel Transylvania is your kid answering your every question with a thick-accented ‘blaaa blaaa blaaa’ and an eyeroll. Adults looking for substance should stay away.