The review of Hotel Transylvania: A Monstrous Exchange, fourth and final installment of the animated franchise about Dracula and company.
An era closes with this Hotel Transylvania review: A monstrous exchange, which after a few postponements linked to the pandemic completely skips the hall and lands directly on Prime Video, as happened – but on different platforms – with other Sony Pictures Animation titles. A somewhat thankless fate for what has been one of Sony’s flagship franchises in the last ten years, as well as – for those who see these films in their original language – Adam Sandler’s only permanent presence in the hall since, in 2015, has signed an exclusive deal with Netflix. Franchise that comes to an end, at least as far as feature films are concerned, and does it, ironically, without Sandler, who due to other work commitments does not lend his voice to Dracula in English in this round, leaving the part to the imitator and YouTuber Brian Hull, on his first film experience. Also absent, but only in the control room, Genndy Tartakovsky, who remains involved as a screenwriter.
The desire to (not) change
At the heart of Hotel Transylvania: A monstrous exchange is the fear of change: Dracula lives happily ever after with family and friends and is always ready to solve any problem related to the hotel, but things will not be like this forever. In theory, Mavis and Johnny will inherit it all, but he is terrified at the very thought of giving his business to others and so he makes up various excuses, including the fact that Johnny is not a monster. The son-in-law hears this last part and decides to get help from Van Helsing, who has devised a device capable of transforming humans into monsters, and vice versa. But when almost all the inhabitants of the hotel are affected, the situation becomes critical: the antidote is not exactly available nearby, and if the transformation is not reversed soon, its effects will be permanent and irreversible. Not exactly the best when someone like Drac is used to powers he no longer has at his disposal …
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After two chapters mainly the result of Adam Sandler’s production logic (in the original vocal cast there are many of his regular collaborators, including David Spade and Kevin James), Hotel Transylvania 3 – A monstrous vacation, the first written and not only directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, had highlighted a new approach to comedy, even more shamelessly physical and surreal (the gag of the macarena remains unsurpassed), with dizzying visual insights. In this sense, a certain step backwards is evident here, with Tartakovsky no longer directing, replaced by the duo composed of Jennifer Kluska and Derek Drymon, former authors of Monstrous Puppies: A short film by Hotel Transylvania, where for the first time Brian Hull voiced Dracula instead of Sandler. They are two veterans of the franchise and their passion is evident, but the gags don’t always come with the same perfectly calibrated speed, returning to the fun but somewhat elementary levels of the progenitor.
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However, where the operation does not disappoint is on the level of animation: the character design is at the same time more stylized and more mature, ideally combined with a story that includes several slapstick follies but also a more melancholy vein, because while not giving up the atmosphere light that characterizes the series in its own way makes it clear that the story will end here (net of possible shorts and spin-offs presumably centered on secondary figures). And it is a family finale, as per tradition, of those who will leave young viewers – but also those who follow the franchise from the beginning and therefore will have a few more years – with a smile on their faces, even if not in the ideal context. to greet these characters: given the reactions to previous chapters in the dark of the room, a farewell via platform will never have the same impact. But especially for those with children who are stuck on the same title to be reviewed in loop, the Amazon Prime Video solution can prove to be convenient. And in this case, even parents can have enough fun.
We close the review of Hotel Transylvania: A monstrous exchange, fourth and last chapter of the successful Sony Pictures Animation franchise, underlining how for the occasion you land directly on Amazon Prime Video to entertain viewers of all ages in a basic but effective way.
Because we like it
- Character design evolves in interesting ways thanks to the premise of transformation.
- The visual gags remain very funny.
- The ending has the right comic and emotional strength.
- Too bad not being able to see it at the cinema.
- The handover to directing is felt at the level of comic rhythms.