‘Hotel Transylvania’ isn’t the number one result in anyone’s mind when the concept of an animated franchise comes to mind. It is by far and away the most ridiculous and surprisingly expansive franchise to ever exist. Does it sell toys? Not at all. Are the movies financially profitable? Weirdly enough, yes but they ended up letting ‘The Addams Family 2’ take last year’s family-friendly October spot and dumped this movie on Amazon Prime Video in the second week of January. Sitting down to watch this while it buffers every thirty seconds or so, the quality going from VHS to a YouTube video every couple of scenes really made me question not only why I was watching this movie but is anything worth doing? it’s the type of movie that made me go ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?’ and honestly I don’t even know, but enough about my existential crisis, let’s talk about ‘Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania’!
major spoilers for ‘Hotel Transylvania: Transformania’ are featured in this review.
The ‘Hotel Transylvania’ franchise is one I’m weirdly fond of. Not only is Halloween my favourite holiday so there’s that going for it but as a child at least up till I was ten years old, I wasn’t really going to the cinema with my family, it was truly a rarity. I had asked to go watch this with a friend and his dad and I was allowed to go. So in reality outside of maybe two memories I have of maybe two school outings, this is the first movie I fully remember going to watch in theatres. Everything changed after that and I don’t really credit the movie for that but rather the experience but I do have to give where credit is due by saying that these movies are genuinely fun. I love the first movie, couldn’t remember most of the second movie even if I had a gun to my head and actually like the third movie a lot. ‘Transformania’ on the other hand, is so aggressively in the middle of being a memorable, fun and chaotic animated feature and a bizarrely unfunny, dull television special.
‘Transformania‘ looks and feels so much like an ABC television special, it makes me wonder if that was the plan and they decided to stretch it out into an entire feature. It’s weird because the animation is great, the style of the previous movies is still somewhat intact but the imagination is so incredibly lacking. The cartoonish charm is used for eye-rolling humour. The characters don’t move or behave like Tartakovsky characters. Even in terms of locations, this is an animated movie, they could’ve literally imagined up so many new and exciting places and this movie never delivered on that. A good portion of the movie is spent inside the hotel, in fact, the first twenty minutes in this one hour and twenty-minute movie is spent entirely in the hotel. The location then continues to change between various places in the South American jungle which was fine but it’s a ‘Hotel Transylvania’ movie where is the Halloween aesthetic? Hell, why not take a futuristic sci-fi approach, I mean with a title like ‘Transformania‘, it invites a lot of imagination and this movie never really went anywhere interesting. I am fully aware I’m taking this too seriously considering it’s a movie in a kids’ franchise but after seeing how dull this movie was, you really start to question its existence. I mean, this is the fourth movie, why not explore new monsters, maybe competing Hotels, just anything that screams Halloween.
In terms of story, this movie actually surprised me with how character-driven it was even if logic was completely thrown out the window. The final chapter in this series revolves around Dracula finally deciding to retire and hand over the Hotel to Mavis and Johnny. However, he changes his plans at the last second out of the fear that Johnny will ruin the place. They mistakenly change themselves into a human/monster counterpart. Johnny becomes a monster, Drac becomes human. It’s cute, it’s fine, it’s something that could’ve been resolved in a quaint thirty-minute special. They go on a quest to find a crystal that will change them back, they bond, yadda, yadda, yadda. It’s predictable, we’ve seen it a ton of times, we know where this ends. However, the ending of this movie has to be one of the funniest endings I’ve seen in a long time.
After Drac basically credits Johnny as the reason he is the person he is today in front of his daughter Mavis, discrediting her existence in the past three movies, Johnny becomes human again. Once they return to the hotel, they find it destroyed by a monster test subject left trapped in the beginning. Drac has a moment and he hands over the key to the hotel to Mavis and Johnny telling them they can rebuild it however they see fit. A year later, it’s rebuilt, they surprise Drac and as he opens his eyes, he sees that it looks the exact same. Then they enter inside, it transforms into a 2D animated, pastel colour, neon sign stacked place that doesn’t resemble the hotel of quite frankly this franchise at all. They took what made this franchise so fun to watch and basically took it away. There is no Halloween spirit, no Universal Monsters charm, there is no Transylvania.
In the end, ‘Hotel Transylvania: Transformania’ is easily the worst of the bunch. The stylistic humour feels cheap and uninspired, there is little to no Genndy Tartakovsky charm left in this finale and considering this is the only one he hasn’t directed, it makes a ton of sense. While the story is more character-driven this time around, the movie ultimately never justifies its existence with an ending that takes away the lovable Halloween-esque nature of these movies. It’s just aggressively average and considering the franchise we’re talking about, it’s quite the indication.
‘Hotel Transylvania 1-3′ are streaming on Netflix!
‘Hotel Transylvania: Transformania’ is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.