Monday, July 13, 2020

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – review

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

Release date: 2018

Contains spoilers

I don’t know what it is about this franchise but, despite rather enjoying it, I am always late to the party. The third instalment of the franchise, if you read my reviews for the first and second outings then you’ll see that, whilst I was enthusiastic about the first film, I was perhaps less so about the second. This isn’t to say that the second film was rubbish, just not as good as the first.

Perhaps this is natural and there are many, many examples of franchises weakening as they go along. Therefore, I was happy to see that this film actually picked up again and that whilst the story was pretty simple it managed to grab the quick-fire one liners and run with it. Some of the characters were sadly side-lined compared to earlier vehicles but Dracula (Adam Sandler) was front and centre throughout.

Van Helsing
It starts in 1897 on-board a train where Dracula and several of his monster friends are disguised whilst travelling amongst humans (by wearing head scarves). They are just having their tickets checked when in bursts Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan), monster hunter. He reveals the monsters by lighting a match (and triggering Frankenstein (Kevin James) who has a fire phobia) and sets after the fleeing fiends with an electro-gun. We then get a montage of his tussles with Dracula.

Dracula and Mavis
Cutting to the present and Dracula and Mavis (Selena Gomez) are coordinating a wedding at the hotel but, at the reception, Mavis notices that something is off with Dracula. Essentially, he is lonely (it’s been over a century since his wife died) and the male monsters encourage him to use a dating app. Not realising this Mavis assumes that he is stressed with work and so books a holiday for them all – which most of the monsters from the hotel also go to.

Dracula and Ericka
After a flight on Gremlin Air, they arrive at the Bermuda Triangle to meet their ship for a cruise, the ultimate destination being Atlantis. The ship is captained by Ericka (Kathryn Hahn) and despite believing that a monster only zings once, Dracula zings when he sees her. In this outing we are told that a zing is specifically a monster thing and the equivalent of a human’s love at first sight. There is a problem, however. In the bowls of the ship is Van Helsing, now little more than a head on a steampunk contraption and Ericka is his great-granddaughter, raised from birth to be a monster hunter. Van Helsing has a plan to destroy the monsters and Ericka sees an opportunity (despite the zing) to kill Dracula herself…

shark riding
Some of the characters are, as I mentioned, fairly side-lined. Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) is in film (having smuggled his giant monster dog on-board) but is used sparsely so doesn’t outstay his welcome and Wayne (Steve Buscemi, Paris Je T’aime) and Wanda (Molly Shannon, The Amazing Screw-On Head), the over-wrought werewolf parents, are used but then slipped off story deliberately, which allows for the parenting gags to be heard but not over-used.

a chupacabra walks into a bar...
This was beautifully animated, as always, and its simple storyline (as mentioned) allowed the gags freedom to flourish (and we finally get Dracula genuinely saying “bleh, bleh, bleh”). One particular favourite involved a chupacabra ordering a drink. As I mentioned I think it worked better than the second film, which was mostly down to concentrating on Dracula as primary character. A delight for kids, I’m sure, and good fun for adults too, I’ll give this outing 6.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

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