Number 3 Doesn’t Have As Much Bite, But Cruises To Family Fun

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation Poster

 

It’s Thursday and you know what that means… Yes, another Robbie’s Movie Reviews.  Tonight, is an animated sequel, hoping to live up to the magic and bring about another family friendly adventure to bring your little ones flocking to theater.  Will it be the success they want in regards to quality, or is it mainly a cash grab of the studio to try and compete with the Disney mega corporation.  Robbie K is here and ready to write another review… this time on:

 

Movie:  Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)

 

Director:

Genndy Tartakovsky

Writers:

Michael McCullers,  Genndy Tartakovsky

Stars:

Adam Sandler,  Andy Samberg,  Selena Gomez

 

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  The movie keeps to its cute roots, making sure to keep the friendly environment amped up all the way to a 10.  Hotel Transylvania 3 has a cavalcade of characters that are adorable as can be, with big eyed werewolves, curly haired kids with squeaky voices, gigantic puppies, and of course all the goofy stunts that are in between.  If you are a fan of this dynamic alone, then this installment will already be worth the wait for you.

 

Funny:  The movie has a charming humor to it for adults, presented in the form of a few witty interventions in the form of nostalgic songs and references.  Yet, the majority of the comedy is of course geared towards the little ones and those with a childish sense of humor.  The movie has loads of slapstick, over the top delivery of simplistic writing to get a laugh.  Kids will enjoy this the most, and parents will most likely enjoy watching them giggle their heads off.  This will hopefully be further evidence at how appropriate for kids this movie is.

 

Short run time:  While the movie may not be for everyone, you can be excited by the fact that the movie will not last long.  The run time comes in at closer to 1 hour and 20 minutes, so you can breathe a sigh of relief that this won’t leave you drained upon the final credits rolling. Speaking of which?

Final Credits:  I’ve always been a fan of the cartoon end credits and their clever play with words.  The movie continues this trend and brings with it a fun, adorable spin to make it stand out from the other two..  A fun track adds some atmosphere to the credits and ends the movie on an energetic foot to have your kids dancing to the beat.

 

Music:  Hotel Transylvania has always had an appropriate soundtrack to go with the themes of the movie, and number 3 stays on this path again. The difference for this film is that it contains a few nostalgic songs that may confuse younger audience members and bring smiles to the older ones.  While these legendary tracks are short lived, they do have the right timing to maximize their inclusion.  If only they could have had more.

 

Animation:  The animation is not the smoothest at times, most likely to represent the silly atmosphere of this movie.  However, this guy appreciated the clever designs of the world, and the cool adaptations on the cruise ship.  Colorful worlds await those who will venture into the theater, though the same can be said for most animated movies.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Too silly at times:  I warned you up top, the move is not geared towards all audience members.  Hotel Transylvania 3 is all about maximizing kid humor, and fails to extend much past the superficial jabs that will keep the world giggling.  I needed a little more maturity to the mix, something to break out the relentless onslaught of comedy this movie is famous for.

 

Story Suffers:  The first movie of the series had a great tale to ground the laughs to, as it pushed character growth and integrated all the characters into the mayhem at hand.  However, this installment did not remotely find this balance, dropping most of their characters to the backburner for very cheap laughs and sequences that were less than impressive.  Why they dropped so much of their balance, I can’t answer that, but it was disappointing to see only one storyline with remotely any sustenance.  All the line segment like stories were just not that impressive, but in the grand scheme of things to kids… not really that important.

 

Lack of Interest:  I think the big thing of this movie though, is that it seems like the series is losing the steam that kept it going for so long.  After failing with the short before the Emoji movie, I think the series is grasping for straws at this point, and needs to return to its roots to stand a chance for future installments.  Given the failure of the cartoon series… I’m not sure if there is remotely any major interest remaining in this series.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

    A third installment can be difficult to maintain the quality, and Hotel Transylvania 3 really struggled with keeping itself on target. The movie is cute, funny, and with an entertaining design, but it didn’t have an engaging plot and reduce its characters to mere shambles with the exceptions of a few.  The movie is certainly prime bait for luring kids into the theater, but it just doesn’t have the same bite that the first two did.  In regards to if this film is theater worthy… I would say only if you’re looking to take your kids, otherwise hold out for this one for future viewing. 

 

My scores:

 

Animation/Comedy/Family: 7.0

Movie overall: 5.5

Same Cute, Fun, Antics, but Not as Well Put Together

Hotel Trans 2

            It’s the end of September, and once more the beginning of pumpkin spice lattes, football, and the holiday transitional movie season. This weekend, another animated “blockbuster” sinks its fangs into the waiting juvenile masses. This vivid description is to serve as an opening for my latest review assignment: Hotel Transylvania 2. While Halloween is still a few weeks off, Adam Sandler and his buddies release their animated sequel in hopes of kicking off October right. Can this franchise keep the same “spirit” of fun and humorous, or does it join the list of unimpressive sequels. Read on to find out.

The first Hotel Transylvania was cute and family friendly, qualities that number two amplifies to the next level with Dracula’s grandson. Dennis is an adorable, big eyed, high-pitched toddler whose innocence leads our “heroes” to teach him the old monster ways. The kid himself is cute in both voice and looks, bringing energy to the old fogey monsters inhabiting the hotel. As for the film’s adventure, it is very simplistic, filled with half baked schemes, overused taglines, and some running gags that start out funny, but eventually get stale (a.k.a the blah blah blah thing). Sandler’s usual bag of tricks continue to be entertaining, especially with the younger audience members. I myself enjoyed Sandler’s wit as he pokes fun at a number of relevant modern day “conveniences”. Cell phones, social media, even the modern day television icons (i.e. cakey the monster) all are mocked by the lord of darkness at how ridiculous (and overused) these things are.

So the humor is the same, but what about the story? In truth the tale has a similar feeling to the first film’s tale, with many recycled plotlines filling the 90 minutes. Despite the events of the first movie, Dracula still has issues with the whole monster/human racial thing, especially in terms of letting Dennis grow up outside the hotel. The team must have run out of ideas, because a lot of scenes may seem familiar from the first film, especially in terms of Dracula’s obsession with keeping Mavis. Yet amidst of the sea of familiarity, the more “unique” elements maintain their charm and fit well with rehashed storyline. That is until you get to the grand finale. While the ending did introduce a barely needed set of characters to help bring the film to a close, it lacked the finesse that Hotel 1 had with it.

Animation wise the film lives up to the standards the first one set. Drac and the crew fluidly move about the scenes, the voices match the lips, with the exception of the invisible man whose glass just teeter, and visuals are fun and colorful. The lack of new features is a little disappointing, but it was to be expected when you limit yourself to a hotel and pull out all the stops on the first movie. Of course many of your little ones won’t care as long as they get to see Drac and the crew do their ridiculous stunts.

In terms of voice acting, again nothing new here. Sandler’s Transylvanian accent still makes me giggle, and his throaty, over exaggerated cries are still consistent over the last two decades. Gomez has managed to bring back Mavis’ modern woman charm, while also adding the emotional touch of an overprotective mother. Kevin James is well… Kevin James, a mixture of loud screaming and hushed talking that pales in comparison to how the monster looks. The problem with this movie is that the other characters really don’t get much voice time in this picture. Buschemi, Spade, even Samberg felt pushed on the backburner, with Sandler taking most of the dialog in this movie. Not only did this limit the character interactions we enjoyed, but also deprived us of some more diverse comedy. On the plus side, it meant limited time hearing Fran Drescher’s voice.

Hotel Transylvania 2 has the same fun, family friendly element that charmed many audience members long ago. Not much has changed over the past few years, which isn’t a bad thing in a movie like this. However, I would have liked to see a more cohesive and in depth story like the first one to round up the picture. Nevertheless, the younger members will scream in delight with this film, while the older crowd will enjoy the more subtle pokes at popular media. Worth a trip to theater? I’ll say yes, just because of the fun adventure, but there really isn’t anything “theater worthy” of it.

My scores are:

Animation/Comedy/Family: 8

Movie Overall: 7

Typical Sandler: Ridiculous, Funny, and Over The Top

Pixels

            Everyone says video games are bad for you as they are too violent or rot your mind. In Adam Sandler’s latest comedy, those comments have been magnified as a race of alien beings misinterpret a deep space satellite transmission as a declaration of war and have chosen classic arcade games as their soldiers. Yes my friends, my next review is on none other than Pixels, a movie that may be one of the most ridiculous adventures to grace the theater. Hi I’m Robbie K and you’re just in time for another review on the latest “comedy” release.

When you think of Adam Sandler, as well as the plot summary above, you might tag the comedian with words like ridiculous, stupid, immature, etc. Well that might be true, but let’s focus on some good qualities of his unique imagiantion. Pixels jumps back into the 80’s to bring nostalgic memories of the endangered arcades to nerds like me and amplifies to monstrous proportions. After a fun trip back in time, we jump to the modern day world where Sandler and his typical crew are again the oddballs in popular culture. This is where one of the positives comes in, and that is Sandler’s poking at the trends, stereotypes, and culture. I chuckled at the writer’s jabs at our government system, mocking their obsession with war, country strives, and glorification of the military. In a manner along the lines of Revenge of the Nerds, nerds are shown to be powerful, using predictability and practice as the mighty tools of defense. This tired and true story line has a nice refreshing twist using games as the medium, but the story is lacking in so many ways. Most stories running tangent to the main plot are very shallow, nothing more than predictable moments that center on wishes shared by our beloved arcaders. How the aliens saw this as a threat, what they looked like, heck even the reasoning of their choices were cut short to be dumped into the flood of jokes this movie is filled with.

Speaking of jokes, Pixels is more of Adam Sandler’s tactics of being kiddy, geeky, and somehow sweet at the same time. Pixels has loads of his overdramatic, throaty yelling, often partnered with a drawn out with someone rambling on and making a fool of themselves. Other characters were drawn in to the awkward vortex as well, Peter Dinkelage especially dropping into the ludicrous 80’s punk with a heavy accent that is more annoying than funny for me. However, I did enjoy some of the humor in this movie, especially witty quips at modern culture. Being a gamer myself I also laughed at a few of the gaming scenarios as well, despite many of them being ruined in the trailers. And yet… Pixels humor gets lost in the teams inability to realize enough is enough. Sandler and his crew take their jokes too far, and don’t let up until it is too late and the jokes are super stale that only kids will be cracking up at them. Because of this lack of balance, the movie’s humor really only stays consistently funny to kids, who we know can’t get enough of the things they love.

Let’s turn our attention to the game scenes now. Pixels art directors took an interesting path for this film, as they brought the pixelated warriors to life. Most of the soldiers look like high definition renditions of minecraft sprites, obviously designed to pop out of the screen in the 3-D viewings. The arcade games are colorful though, sporting the flashy vibrant hues and shades that caught our attentions all those years ago. Life is further imbued with the sound editing, the 8-bit bings, bongs, and other digital noises filling the high definition speakers and bringing you into the moment. The designers even translated the games 2-D movements into fluid 3-D excitement as the monsters and ships battle our real life defenders. As for the adventure itself, it’s okay. The battles with the light guns start out exciting, but it doesn’t take long before you realize it’s just repeated movements of our heroes shooting left and right with the enemies barely adapting their strategy. As the journey continues, the actions gets better as the situations get a dab of cleverness added them all with an arcade twist. But…they take the scenes too far, and cross into the overdramatic zone and lose its majesty. Exaggerated moves and simple comedy can’t beef up the sequences, or improve the movie for that matter. The only thing that might have helped was the kicking 80’s soundtrack that played throughout the movie, another fine moment of nostalgia.

Okay so Pixels isn’t the greatest movie ever, and it may be more of the same Sandler movie magic we’ve come to know. However, the movie is a fun trip back to a colorful time, and retro gamers will appreciate the references they make throughout the film. There isn’t much of a story and things do go stale from time to time, but I think younger audience members will enjoy the adventure to be had. Word of warning, this movie has some fair bit of cursing. My recommendations are to hold off on this movie, as despite the cool special effects, it is not worth the high price of a ticket. The scores are:

Comedy/Action/Sci-Fi: 6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Should Have Taken A Segway Straight To TV Movie Release

Paul Blart 2

            Many times when I hear a sequel is coming, I cringe in fear at the horrors that studios may churn out. Often many follow ups to a film series pale in comparison to the original, many times being a poor movie overall. Today I hesitantly returned to the theater to see what actor Kevin James had in store for me in the form of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. I can’t say I had my hopes up high for this movie, but you never know what surprises may be in store. So let’s get started shall we?

The first adventure of Blart was a cute, wholesome adventure that was good for some stupid laughs and the notion that anyone can get a happy ending. Unfortunately, they couldn’t leave it there and thought it would be good to send our aspiring cop back into action to hopefully entertain the crowd. Despite my wishes for fun comedy, Paul Blart 2 fails to deliver the same enjoyment the first one did. Most of the jokes are rehashes, many poking at James’ weight and his clumsiness when it comes to chasing down the bad guys. Blart’s obsessions with Segways have lost their appeal, his over-exaggerated stunts just looking stupid and more ridiculous with each pull. Crushing people with his weight is also crosses into the stupid zone, especially when he lays on a woman and wiggles on top of them trying to knock them out. I would have to say the worse things though are Blart’s rambles about justice, honor, and trying to prove he is a tough guy. His monologues go on and on with much of his dialog being extremely simplistic or drawn out that left me rolling my eyes more so than laughing. I can’t lie that I did laugh at a few jokes and antics, mainly the window ramming scene and a few well-timed limericks. As a whole though this movie lost what made the last one fun.

Storywise there was not much improvement. Mall Cop 2 starts out quite sad, and again ridiculous, as Blart’s world is turned upside down twice in terms of family and love. To escape the depression he heads to Vegas for a convention that will hopefully recognize him for his heroism from the first film, which took six years prior to this movie. Once there the story breaks down to three things: Paul trying to stop the bad guys, Paul learning to let go of his daughter, and Paul trying to find himself. The first aspect is rather pathetic, the bad guys are there to steal art for a client, going through little struggle to acquire their precious cargo. In truth, I found these bad guys more boobs than threats, the main guy lacking any real bite with his bleach blonde hair and different colored eyes. Blart’s whole ordeal against them was too easy, and much more diluted than I had hoped to see. The second tale is probably the best part of the movie. Maya (Raini Rodriguez) is about to go to college, leaving her dad alone and without support. Paul must learn the hard lesson of letting go, something I too struggle with, to allow all parties involved to live a better life. While cheesy as it is in this movie, the morale is sweet and helps bring some of the nostalgic charm. The final story of Paul finding himself is not quite as strong. His struggles of accepting himself start out sweet, but quickly fall back to funny as another joke or gag takes place. There are a few exceptions to the rules where Blart makes a motivational speech, or defends the geeks and mocked. Much of this story though has little sustenance and gets hastily wrapped up near the end of this fortunately short movie.

As for acting, James seems to have a lot of fun with this role, immersing himself in the Mall Cop with a heart as big as his body. James seems like a guy who loves to make people laugh and smile, and the younger audience members love his antics. His delivery of some of his lines is spot on, using his voice to really emphasize the puns and small wit the dialog has. What really made me laugh were his facial expressions though. Somehow James just has to look a certain way and I will crack up, maybe it is due to his chubby cheeks or maybe I’m just weird. Either way James can still bring out some funny moments. On the sweet side, he still has that cuddly teddy bear attitude that we all fell in love with during King of Queens. He is a loveable lug who is willing to take verbal abuse to do what is right, and he gets points for playing the underdog role I relate to so well. However, there is no award winning performance, outside a Kid’s Choice Awards, for this role as it is still the same part he always plays. The other cast do their roles okay, but James is the soul of this movie so I won’t go into details on them.

Paul Blart 2 is a movie I describe as could have gone directly to TV. The humor has been reduced to something only young and young at heart will like, and the story can’t back up the rather bland comedy. I still applaud James for his commitment to roles, but not even the big man can save the drab this film is. You can guess that this movie is not recommended for a theater visit, unless you are looking for something to take your kids too. Wait for it to come on basic cable, and save your money for Avengers 2 in the next few weeks.

Paul Blart 2 gets:

 

Action/Comedy: 5.5

Movie Overall: 4.0