Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation Review - A needless addition to a forced franchise
A sequel that would have done just as well as its previous parts if viewed as a standalone animated film
Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation reunites the old cast and characters, for hopefully, the last film of the franchise (though that seems unlikely). Genndy Tartakovsky's familiar touches make their way into Part 3, but they refuse to go down as easily this time around. It isn’t that the film is not endearing and sweet, but all those attributes that had children (and, to a lesser extent, adults) hooked have been seen before. Part 2 seemed, more or less, a carbon copy of its predecessor, with a little extra thrown in. This latest instalment attempts to veer the action away from the hotel to a cruise ship in the Bermuda Triangle. Despite the new setting and the introduction of Count Dracula’s nemesis, Professor Van Helsing, the laughs, the seamless transition into song and dance, and Drac’s 'daddy knows best' attitude towards Mavis and her family, have been witnessed several times over. Part 3 crams too much action into its 97 minutes, making it more of a non-stop adventure with no cohesion as opposed to an engaging storyline. If viewed as a standalone animated film, Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation, would have done just as well as its previous parts. Each of the subsequent attempts in the franchise have felt a bit forced, as there is no new story to tell, really. Children are bound to forgive the overly repetitive nature of Hotel Transylvania because the action, music, dance, and gags never ease up.
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Cast: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Jim Gaffigan
The film begins with Dracula and his long line of monster buddies on a train to Budapest. Disguised as humans, the troupe is accosted by famed monster hunter, Professor Van Helsing. The monsters make a run for it, escaping Helsing’s clutches by the skin of their teeth. On a series of hunts, Count Dracula & Co. manage to evade the hunter’s grasp. The latter is last seen falling off a big cliff as he tries chasing down his mortal enemies. A century later, Mavis convinces her reluctant father that a vacation is in order; he has been too stressed managing the guests at his exclusive hotel for monsters. She keeps him guessing about the holiday destination as the whole group (including Johnny, little Dennis, Frankenstein, Griffin, Wayne, and Murray, as well as their significant others) is transported on a rickety ride to the Bermuda Triangle. Once there, they board a cruise ship for monsters, and come in contact with the captain, Ericka. One look at her and Dracula feels the 'zing' he never believed he would feel in his heart after the passing of his wife. Unbeknownst to anyone on the ship at this point, Ericka is the great-grand daughter of Professor Van Helsing. Drac and the monsters party it up as Ericka and her grandfather plot their downfall.
Even as the primary characters showcase their regular list of over-the-top mannerisms and antics, the writing disappoints. A new setting, an old nemesis, and Dracula’s unlikely love interest, are good ways to go, but the relentless jumping from one sequence to another without much continuation/context affects the film’s narrative adversely. It almost feels as if the writers crammed in non-stop action to cover up the absence of a better story. All those attributes that made the characters endearing and funny before remain intact here as well, but too much familiarity means much less of an impression. The film is bound to do well thanks to its primary target audience, though. As for an older fan, one can only hope that the creators stop when the going is good. No one wants the announcement of another sequel to be met with that dreaded question: why? Sequels, in general, aren’t an easy business. Firstly, there needs to be enough character development to fill the subsequent story/stories. Secondly, not everything can be a throwback to the original. Hotel Transylvania would have been an ideal one-off animated feature. But that was never ever going to be the case, was it?