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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Hotel Transylvania 2

January 10th, 2016

Hotel Transylvania 2 - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 3D Combo Pack
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Hotel Transylvania 2

Hotel Transylvania came out a few years ago. It cost $85 million to make, which is a lot of money by nearly every definition, but relatively cheap for a digitally animated film. The reviews were mixed, but it was a big financial hit. It came as no surprise that there was a sequel. Hotel Transylvania 2 did better than its predecessor in nearly every way, but it is still a second-tier digitally animated film. For a second-tier film like this to succeed, all it needs to do is entertain the kids while not making the parents want to flee the room right away. That's not a particularly high bar to set. Does this film manage to get above that bar?

The Movie

First a brief recap on Hotel Transylvania. The titular Hotel Transylvania is a hotel for monsters to stay, so they can avoid humans. It is run by Dracula, who has a daughter, Mavis. One day, a human tourist named Jonathan arrives at the hotel and he and Mavis fall in love. I'm skipping over a lot of the important details, but that's the gist of it.

The sequels starts on the wedding day of Mavis and Jonathan. A couple of jokes later and it jumps ahead to when Mavis tells Dracula she's pregnant. It then jumps ahead to the birth of Dennis, and then jumps ahead to his first birthday party. And then jumps ahead again.

This early part of the film doesn't have good flow, but it does get better once the main plot kicks in.

The main plot involves Dennis, who is half-vampire and half-human. Because of this, it is unknown if he will have any vampire powers at all. Dracula, being Dracula, is convinced he will be a powerful vampire. Frank gives Dracula an idea. He will send Mavis and Jonathan to the human world for a bit, partially because they need some alone time, but also to see Jonathan's family. (Jonathan is in on the plan, so he's going to make sure Mavis thinks raising Dennis in California is a bad idea.) In the meantime, Dracula, Frank, Wayne the werewolf, Murray the Mummy, and the other monsters will put Dennis through a Monster Boot Camp to bring out the Vampire in him. If this plan doesn't work, they may have to bring in Vlad, Dracula's father. That's not an ideal solution, because Vlad is not as friendly to humans has the rest of the monsters are.

Expectations play a huge role in how much we enjoy something. I went into Minions hoping it would be at least a little like Despicable Me in terms of heart. It wasn't even close. Meanwhile, I was just hoping Hotel Transylvania 2 wouldn't make me cringe. Parts of it did. I'm not 100% sold on whatever accent Adam Sandler was doing as Dracula. However, it had a lot more heart than I was expecting. Also, a lot of the jokes landed as well. I especially liked Mavis' reaction to the mini-mart. It's not perfect. Many of the jokes are aimed at younger kids and like I said, the action didn't flow very well at the beginning. The action scenes were a little lackluster. So overall, it is still not a great movie; it can't compare to the average Pixar film, for instance. But it is a solid kids movie that parents won't mind sitting through with their kids.

The Extras

The extras begin with two audio commentary tracks, the first with the director, Genndy Tartakovsky, and the second with Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel, and Allen Covert. There is also a Scary-Oke lullaby and Throw the Ultimate Monster Party, which are clearly for kids. Up next are 18 minutes of deleted / alternative scenes, while there is a six-minute featurette on the foley work in the film. There's a short look at some of the new characters in the movie, plus a second featurette that looks at the process to get the final look for the new characters, as well as casting the voice actors. Another featurette for kids teaches them to draw some of the characters. Finally, there is a music video.

I didn't get the 3D version to review, so I can't comment on the technical strengths.

The 3D Blu-ray costs only $28, which is $8 more than the Blu-ray and $10 more than the DVD. I think the Blu-ray combo pack is the best deal.

The Verdict

Hotel Transylvania 2 is a second-tier digitally animated film aimed squarely at kids, but it is good enough that parents won't mind watching it with their children. I don't think adult fans of CGI movies will need to see this one. There are enough extras that it is worth picking up if you have kids the right age, while the Blu-ray Combo Pack feels like the best deal.

Filed under: Video Review, Minions, Hotel Transylvania 2, Mel Brooks, Steve Buscemi, Allen Covert, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel, Selena Gomez, Genndy Tartakovsky, Keegan-Michael Key, Asher Blinkoff