Hotel Transylvania 2 Is Frightful, But Not In A Good Way

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

This past January Sony Pictures Animation released its family friendly flick Hotel Transylvania 2 on DVD and Blu-ray.  The movie, which is the follow-up to Adam Sandler’s hit 2012 movie Hotel Transylvania pales in comparison to that movie even no that it has been released on DVD and Blu-ray.  It isn’t a total loss.  However it is anything but a success, too.  The movie’s story is one of its few saving graces.  It is actually a natural progression from the story behind Hotel Transylvania.  At the same time it isn’t without its own glaring problem.  The movie’s pacing is just as much of a mixed bag.  That will be discussed later.  Last but not least of note within this movie is the work of the movie’s cast.  Sandler and cast mate Selena Gozmez impress once again as Dracula and his daughter Mavis.  Sadly Andy Samberg is not as impressive as he reprises the role of Jonathan.  Luckily his portrayal is the only one that stands out as being truly underwhelming.  Sandler and Gomez both shine in their respective roles.  Together with the work of the movie’s writers, their work serves to make Hotel Translyvania 2 a pale shadow of its predecessor that is fun, but yet another forgettable flick that did not need to be made.  It shows in the end to be more proof that not every movie nowadays needs a sequel (or a prequel or remake either).

Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 2 is a fun new installment in this franchise.  However it isn’t entirely memorable even with its few saving graces.  One of those rare saving graces is the movie’s story.  Even that isn’t saying much.  The story centers once again on Mavis and Dracula’s relationship as father and daughter.  The pair’s relationship changes even more here from the series’ first installment as Mavis becomes a mother and Dracula becomes a grandfather.  The change happens because Dennis, Mavis and Jonathan’s son, doesn’t immediately show signs of being a vampire.  Dracula doesn’t like this so he takes Dennis on a road trip while Mavis and Jonathan go on vacation.  The catch is that only he and Jonathan know that the trip is really to try and scare Dennis’ inner vampire out.  At the heart of the story is not so much the road trip and the antics of Dracula and his friends but Dracula’s growing realization that times and people have changed.  This includes the realization that even his own daughter has changed.  She’s not a little girl anymore.  Using such a story line is a time honored tradition for filmmakers.  So it is anything but new in its use here.  And that is in itself a problem for the movie.  It leaves one asking did the movie even need to be made?  This is asked especially considering how well the series’ first installment was wrapped up.  The honest answer here is a decisive no.  It did not need to be made.  The previous movie could easily have been left by itself.  But someone decided that it should and that it should use such a familiar story line.  Even with that in mind it still manages to entertain audiences in its use here.  While the time honored story line does manage to keep audiences entertained in the case of this movie, the story’s pacing counters that entertainment and ends up bogging down the story.

The story at the center of Hotel Transylvania 2 is an entertaining work.  This is the case even though the story is anything but original.  Even as surprisingly entertaining as it proves to be the story does have one major con—its pacing.  The story’s pacing is all over the place throughout the course of the movie.  It starts off almost right where Hotel Transylvania left off. Mavis and Jonathan are getting married.  They then head off on their honeymoon.  From there, the movie jumps to the couple returning to the hotel with their announcement about Mavis’ pregnancy.  Things don’t get any better from there.  The story jumps from there to Dennis’ birth and then from one birthday to the next until finally it reaches the days leading up to his fifth birthday.  According to the story, that is when Dennis is supposed to show the first signs of being a vampire.  This is so problematic because there are no clear transitions from one point to the next throughout all of that time passage.  It forces audiences to have to really pay close attention throughout those early potions of the story.  Luckily things do finally settle into a stable rhythm from here.  The problem is that the pacing doesn’t stay solid from here.  Instead of speeding back up the pacing reaches a point at which it feels like it slows down.  It slows to the point that older audiences will find themselves checking their watches.  It doesn’t get any better from there either.  At least it doesn’t until the movie finally ends.  By the time it ends, audiences are left feeling like the movie’s roughly ninety-minute run time is about half an hour longer or more.  Even as problematic as the movie’s unstable pacing proves to be to the movie’s presentation, it is made at least somewhat bearable thanks to the work of the movie’s two main stars, Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez.

The pacing of Hotel Transylvania 2’s story is a hugely problematic issue for the movie.  That is because of how inconsistent it is from beginning to end.  It doesn’t ruin the movie’s story.  But it does weigh it down quite noticeably, though.  Now as much of a problem as the story’s pacing proves to be for the movie in the bigger picture, it is countered by co-stars Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez.  This is especially the case at the points at which the pair directly interact with one another.  This includes not only the pair’s early interactions in the movie’s early minutes but also the pair’s interaction after Mavis discovers via YouTube what her father was really doing with her son.  Of course that moment is just as interesting.  Even though Gomez obviously isn’t a parent she successfully captures the fire that any mother would have when her child/children is/are in danger.  Her determination to get to Dennis will have audiences of all ages laughing and cheering her on, too.  The same can be said of her emotion in confronting her father about his lies.  It’s just too bad that Andy Samberg can’t be so openly applauded.  Given Samberg was just playing the part of Jonathan.  But his character is just as forgettable as is his portrayal of Jonathan.  Thankfully Sandler’s other cast mates pick up Samberg’s slack as they join Dracula on his road trip.  Steve Buscemi and Kevin James are a laugh riot as Wayne and Frankenstein respectively as a pair of supposedly scary monsters who are more mundane than monstrous.  David Spade is entertaining in his own right as Griffin the invisible man.  And Keegan –Michael Key is just as funny as Murray the mummy.  Audiences will love watching him try to be scary, only to throw out his back time and again.  It is a running gag.  But it never gets old at any point.  Key never overdoes it in these moments.  Because he doesn’t he remains just as funny the first time he pulls the bit as the last.  Whether through Key’s expert comic timing, Buscemi and James’ unassuming comic portrayals of their characters, or even for the work of Sandler and Gomez, the work of Hotel Transylvania 2’s voice cast by and large proves to be one more of this movie’s saving graces.  Together with the movie’s story the two elements combine to make Hotel Transylvania 2 a movie that while fun still proves to be a relatively forgettable story.

Sony Pictures Animation’s latest installment in the Hotel Transylvania franchise is not the series’ worst installment.  But considering its cons set against its far fewer pros, it is anything but a standout showing.  Rather it proves through its all too familiar story line and its problematic pacing to be more forgettable than fun.  Its only real saving grace is the work of its voice cast.  Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez shine again as Dracula and his daughter Mavis.  David Spade, Kevin James, and Steve Buscemi are entertaining in their own right as Dracula’s monster friends.  Andy Samberg is the only real disappointment among the movie’s voice cast.  Yes, Jonathan is supposed to be a somewhat airheaded California skater hippie type figure.  And yes, Samberg really plays up the part.   But he plays it up perhaps too much.  Thankfully the rest of his cast mates make up for that in their own portrayals, in turn serving collectively as the movie’s only real saving grace.  Keeping this in mind even with a story that is mildly entertaining at best and relatively enjoyable acting, Hotel Transylvania 2 proves in the end to be a pale shadow of its predecessor and a movie that is more forgettable than fun.  It is available now in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray + DVD combo pack.

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Fifth Harmony Gets Spooky With Hotel Transylvania 2 Soundtrack’s Lead Single

Courtesy:  Sony Pictures Animation

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

Adam Sandler and company are back. Next month, Sony Pictures Animation will release Hotel Translyvania 2. And ahead of the highly anticipated movie’s release, the hit pop group Fifth Harmony has debuted the lead single from the movie’ s sound track ‘I’m In Love With A Monster’ and audiences can check it out online now via Vevo.

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Audiences can check out the video for ‘I’m In Love With A Monster’ online now via Vevo at http://www.vevo.com/watch/fifth-harmony/Im-In-Love-With-a-Monster-(from-Hotel-Transylvania-2)/USSM21501512. The video mixes together footage of the group performing its song in various settings along with footage from the movie as well as appearances from some rather spooky guests. While many of the group’s songs are generally aimed at specific audiences, the infectious grooves and family friendly lyrical content are sure to make the song just one more part of the movie that families will enjoy.

Fifth Harmony is currently winding down its “Reflection Summer Tour.” It is currently scheduled to perform live at Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland on Saturday, September 5th and at the Washington State Fair on Wednesday, September 16th. After those two dates, the group will take some down time, it will be back on Stage on Wednesday, December 2nd at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. All of the latest updates on Fifth Harmony’s tour is available online now along with all of the group’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.fifthharmonyofficial.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fifthharmony

Twitter: http://twitter.com/fifthharmony

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Cloudy 2 Is A Rare Ray Of Light Among 2013’s Sea Of Sequels

Courtesy:  Sony Pictures Animation

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

Everyone knows the old adage that a movie’s sequel is never as good as the original. Everyone also knows the old adage that one should never say never. That’s because there are exceptions to the rule. Sony Pictures’ Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is one of those exceptions to the rule. While it might not have been a necessary sequel, it is still a fun movie for the whole family. The movie picks up right where its forerunner left off, even going so far as to highlight the events of that movie in the outset of this story. The writing team of Phil Lord, Chris Miller and Erica Rivinoja are to be applauded for this. It’s not all for which they are worthy of applause, either. The trio has crafted in this story that while predictable, also has its own share of heart and humor.  The mediations on friendship and environmentalism make the story even more entertaining.  For all the work put in by the script’s writing team, viewers can’t ignore the work put into bringing the “Lost World” style environment to life.  This element makes the movie even richer.  It is especially the case for those with an interest in computer graphics. When they take all of this into consideration, audiences of all ages will find that Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 is one of the surprisingly rare worthwhile sequels churned out by Hollywood’s major studios in 2013.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 seems on the surface to be an unnecessary and even unbelievable story. Much like its precursor, this movie has no link whatsoever to the book on which it was lifted. Rather, it is more akin to Jurassic Park than the book on which it is based. But once audiences allow themselves to get past this factor, they will find that it has real entertainment value.  The script picks up right where the previous movie left off. It even catches up audiences that have yet to have seen said movie.  This isn’t something that’s commonly seen among the masses of sequels that currently jam theaters.  To that extent, the story’s writers deserve a certain amount of credit.  They are also deserving of credit for the fact that despite their script being predictable, it also bears its own share of heart and humor.  The central message in this script is one of friendship and its importance.  Lord and company make the statement that friends are some of the most important people that anyone can have.  This couldn’t be truer.  Any parent will appreciate that this message was included in the script.

The message of friendship made for plenty of heart throughout the roughly ninety-five minute run time of Cloudy 2.  That heart is something that viewers of any age will appreciate.  It’s just part of the whole presentation, though.  There is just as much of a comic element to the movie as there is heart.  The comedy comes in the form of countless pop culture references and jokes.  Younger audiences won’t catch all of the jokes included in the script.  But parents definitely will.  And they will be surprised to find themselves laughing at those jokes.  One could go so far as to argue that the “Live” company and its founder are a spoof of Apple.  That argument could be made considering Apple’s reputation.  Set against the “Live” Company and its loyal legions, the similarities are too obvious to ignore.  Regardless of whether or not a given viewer is an Apple loyalist, any viewer that recognizes this similarity will appreciate the jab at the company.

The mix of heart and humor does so much to make Cloudy 2 fun for the entire family.  There is one more aspect of the movie that as subtle as it is, is just as important to note in its success.  That aspect is the movie’s Jurassic Park style world.  The world crafted by those behind the movie is absolutely stunning.  Yes, the movie as a whole is just another crafted via CG rather than by hand.  This critic will never dismiss that argument.  However, one can’t ignore the detail and depth given to Swallow Falls.  The world crafted for this movie is so lush and rich in color and style.  It actually stands out in its own way against so many other CG features.  This is exemplified by all of the jungle scenes and the inner workings of the Big Rock Candy Mountain.  Yes, Lord and his co-writers went there.  That’s just one of so many of the pop culture references that only parents will get and appreciate.  The colors and detail of the rock candy crystals and walls inside the mountain were so precise and bright.  The same can be said of the onion/brontosaurs type creatures.  It’s obvious in their case that their scenes were modeled precisely after the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.  They moved and acted just like the dinosaurs in question.  There is so much more that could be noted.  But it would be a disservice to audiences to ramble on about all of it here.  Audiences will appreciate what they find when they check out this rare worthwhile sequel for themselves.  It is in theaters now.  More information on Cloudy 2 and other Sony Pictures releases is available online at http://www.facebook.com/SonyPictures, http://www.facebook.com/SONYPicturesAnimation, http://www.sonypictures.com, http://www.sonypicturesanimation.com, http://twitter.com/#!/sonyanimation, and http://twitter.com/sonypictures.

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Hotel Transylvania Is Halloween Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation

Hotel Transylvania is hardly the most memorable of the year’s holiday movies.  In its defense, it isn’t the worst, either.  One part Monsters, Inc. and one part Mad Monster Party, it has just enough heart and jokes to make it appealing to both parents and children.  The heart of the movie comes from the primary storyline in which Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) throws a party for his daughter, Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez—Wizards of Waverly Place).  It takes place on the eve of her *ahem* 118th birthday.  The thing is that this incarnation of Dracula is like any other parent.  He knows that his daughter is an adult.  But he’s scared to let her go and cut the leash.  This is something to which every parent can relate.  Sure, so many movies use this kind of plot.  But the execution of the storyline offers enough heart to make it enjoyable for parents even in the twenty-first century.Hotel Transylvania’s primary plot is executed in an original manner.  But without its secondary plot, the main story of Dracula learning to let go of his daughter might not have worked so well.  That secondary plot is the buddy comedy between Dracula and Jonathan (voiced by fellow SNL alum Andy Samberg).  At first the pair is at odds with each other.  But thanks to a course of events, they end up becoming close friends.  It’s that series of events that will leave both kids and parents laughing and really make the movie worth its hour and a half run time.

The dual storylines written into Hotel Transylvania make it an enjoyable movie both for parents and kids.  On another level it’s enjoyable in that seeing the collection of classic Universal movie monsters will make parents (and even grandparents) feel nostalgic.  At the same time, it serves as a good way to indoctrinate young audiences into the world of classic horror monsters.  This combined with the movie’s family friendly storylines makes it a movie that while hardly memorable, is worth at least one watch.

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