Tuesday 16 October 2012

Movie Review - Hotel Transylvania

With the advent of 3D dominating modern cinema, animated films are far more commonplace than ever before; the genre has fallen victim to a lackluster reputation of thin scripts, predictable narratives and cheap morals shoved into the faces of the young audience, and while every so often you're greeted with an animated flick that can reach dual audiences, far more likely are films like Hotel Transylvania where the BBFC rating manages to sum up the narrative, gags and morals in an instant.

Following the tragic death of his wife many centuries ago, the overprotective and xenophobic Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) vows to keep his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) safe from the persecution of mankind by constructing a gargantuan castle within a haunted forest: dubbed Hotel Transylvania, the landmark acts as a way for monsters to kick back and relax in a human-free zone. When the comforting tradition is broken with the arrival of Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a lone human traveller, Dracula is tied up in a hectic conflict to keep his daughter protected, but soon realizes there is more to the human race than he originally thought.

Sony Pictures Animation have crafted a highly comedic visual look for the film, with absurd facial expressions and zany, slapstick gags, joined by added 3D depth which, you guessed it, is absolutely worthless. The look adds a certain charm to the characters and humour, but ultimately isn't strong enough to redeem Hotel Transylvania from its many flaws. An endless wave of screaming, cartoon violence and occasional fart gags bombard the audience at a relentless pace to a point where it almost feels demeaning; there's no shortage of funny jokes, but even the mediocre slapstick is crushed underneath irritating pop culture references.

At times it's difficult to tell where the film is trying to go with its narrative; it all seems to come an abrupt halt throughout the middle to make way for endless slapstick and silliness, as if cobbling the misplaced ideas of a child. The hollow script is already highly dull, but towards the end the writers seemed to have given up completely; there is what I shall dub a deux ex machina as the story reaches the conclusion which is so contrived, unbelievable and lazy that the film immediately loses any remaining decency with its plot devices. Be honest now: can you really sit there and tell me you don't know what the ending is already?

The voice cast is strong and great fun; Adam Sandler becomes comedically involved with the character which makes him vastly entertaining alongside the strong supporting cast including Samberg, Steve Buscemi, David Spade and Kevin James. The only real downer is Selena Gomez herself, whose character is not only boring and often annoying but also performed with no real excitement or interest. Hotel Transylvania is definitely one for the very young or very mad, exuding no real depth or creativity whatsoever with a premise that seems half decent. A weak story and endless reliance on slapstick humour drowns the audience in mediocrity and pure laziness, which the film utterly reeks of.