By: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting
Look–I know this is late but I had to stew on my thoughts, okay? Okay. Great, let’s go:
Once more I find myself leaving a movie viewing sincerely disappointed. My first issue with Transformania, the fourth installment of the Hotel Transylvania series, was with the singular Amazon Prime release. Overlooking that, the movie itself was set up to be questionable even in the trailers. I remember watching trailer releases and wondering why we were having a story like this since the premise didn’t make sense from a character standpoint. For those that don’t know, Dracula’s hatred against humans gets an uncomfortable comeback in this movie, leading to Johnny turning himself into a monster and Dracula accidentally turning himself into a human. The adventure then goes that they walk a mile in each other’s shoes and come to a better understanding of each other–at least, that’s what the previews will lead you to believe.
In actuality, Dracula is the only one learning here and it’s made weird by the fact that it’s a lesson he’s learned already in the first installment, which was all about getting over the fear of his bias against “intruding” and foreign people (humans) through Johnny. The second movie completed that arc, so that–by the third movie–Dracula gets remarried to a human, Ericka. Why then are the creators back-tracking so hard in this fourth installment?
All of his character development gets dropped in the latest release because of this premise–even though, at the end, it becomes clear that this is really just a story of a dad not liking his in-law son (which STILL does not make sense based on the third movie). Especially as they prepare for the 125th anniversary of the hotel.
The movie opens with Dracula singing a revised edition of “Just the Two of Us” and–you know what? Just watch it:
At this point, Mavis and Johnny have been together/married for about 7 years. Moreover, Dracula has already established himself as being fully accepting of Johnny in this time. So, what is the cause of the revival of his anti-Johnny feelings? Or, rather, anti-human feelings?
It’s ridiculous too because based on Dracula’s dialogue and how he’s been animated, the real issue is Dracula’s personal problem of letting go, which was also already tackled in the first movie (and, arguably, the third as he remarries and leaves the hotel).
A MUCH better approach to the movie and what would have been fine/great as the main story of it would have been to address the issue set up at the anniversary dinner: the fear of handing the hotel to Mavis and Johnny because they are young, inexperienced, and wild. I mean, at this point Johnny is almost 30, Mavis is a lot older, yet Johnny acts like a child who is free to do something dangerous and without forethought because Mavis always saves him; and Mavis encourages Johnny to be reckless by calling it cute. If I was Dracula and thinking of handing over the hotel he’s worked so hard for and protected (and, in turn, that which has protected them), I would worry that things will fall apart by their hands immediately even though they have made great contributions to updating the hotel’s lifestyle (previous movies show bits and pieces of Mavis doing well to help the hotel and Johnny has brought in a lot of life too).
Unfortunately, though–despite how much that comes across in the movie, we can NOT ignore the stated intent and actions of Dracula telling Johnny he’s not good enough and that Mavis can’t take over the hotel because he’s human.
If this had been a prequel of some sort–say, a movie that’s actually meant to take place prior to the second film in the timeline–I could at least see it, because that’s how the movie feels in terms of tone and development–the characters feel like they just left movie one in many regards–especially Dracula. If it was a prequel, then maybe Dracula’s not giving the hotel to Mavis yet, but instead, she’s trying to take on more responsibility and Johnny just doesn’t seem to be fitting into that yet. However, then the two start making changes, which Dracula doesn’t like at first but works well for the hotel and everyone ends up happy…
However, that’s not the case. This move happens after movie three in the timeline, at this point in the collection, does not make any sense story-wise.
I don’t think this movie is worth the Amazon Prime subscription you’ll have to sign up for (if you don’t have one already) to watch it. It’s not just bad, it’s terrible. This is heightened in the revival of some of the worst character qualities in both Dracula and Johnny. I admit, I didn’t get into Johnny’s backtrack from chill but fun dad to reckless teen, but only because it’s too long and boring to draw this out any further.
3/10 for Story
Recommendation: Don’t watch.
If you disagree with me, I’d be interested in hearing the reasons. Maybe there was something I missed? Let me know!