Hotel Transylvania: Transformania
"It's for the best that not just Drac, but ALL the characters should retire!"— AniMat
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (also known as Hotel Transylvania 4) is a 2022 American computer-animated adventure monster comedy film produced by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation and released by Amazon Studios. The fourth and final installment in the Hotel Transylvania franchise and the sequel to Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018), the film is directed by Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska (in their respective feature-length directorial debuts) from a screenplay by Amos Vernon, Nunzio Randazzo, and Genndy Tartakovsky (who directed the prior three films). Originally planned to be released theatrically in the United States on October 1, 2021, Sony Pictures Releasing canceled the film's release plans and sold the film's distribution rights (except in China) to Amazon Studios for $100 million, due to rising cases of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant in the United States. The film was released exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on January 14, 2022, with a Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, and VOD release likely to follow on Halloween 2022, almost 10 years after the first movie.
When Dracula plans to retire and decides to give the hotel key to Mavis and Johnny, the latter proposes future plans for the structure, which disgusts Dracula, which leads him to lie by telling him that only monsters can take care of the hotel. Johnny, with the help of Van Helsing, transforms into a monster to surprise Mavis and causes trouble at the castle. Due to some incidents now, Drac and his friends are all human and the crystal gem on the staff of transformation has broken. Now our human monster friends will have to embark on a frantic adventure in the Amazon to find a new crystal gem in order to switch themselves back before they become permanent like this forever.
- The film falls short of the first three films and lacks the charm or charisma that made them good. Since Sony said this would be the final film in the saga, then this installment was a mediocre, if not horrible, way to end the Hotel Transylvania series.
- One of the main problems with this film is that, like Akira Toriyama for Dragon Ball GT, Daron Nefcy for Star vs. the Forces of Evil (Seasons 3 and 4 only) and Stephen Hillenberg for SpongeBob SquarePants (Seasons 6-8 only), Genndy Tartakovsky didn't really have that much involvement in this film as the director other than writing the script with Amos Vernon and Nunzio Randazzo and being an executive producer with Selena Gomez, which is another reason why this film lacks the charm or charisma that made them good as well (though this could argue that it make sense because he was busy working on other several projects at the time like "Popeye", "Fixed", "Black Knight", "Primal", "Unicorn: Warriors Eternal", etc, after the success of the third movie).
- Releasing a Halloween themed movie on a January release date is a strange idea because it's too late at that time and yet already 3 months past Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, even though it was originally going to release on July 23 and October 1st of 2021, but got pushed thanks to the pandemic that still happens to this day. And Halloween themed movies always release in October.
- Making a fourth Hotel Transylvania movie is pretty pointless and unnecessary, as the third movie already had a good ending that could have ended the franchise on a positive note. This movie most likely exists because Sony saw box office success of the third and therefore wanted more money, so it had to milk the franchise for a useless fourth installment that no one had ever asked for. Keep that in mind that for you ask, this plan backfired massively, to the point where they just canceled its theatrical release entirely (without China) due to the rise of COVID cases where they were living at the time, and sent it straight to Amazon Prime Video, where it can easily be pirated by those online trolls who don't have a Prime subscription.
- Fortunately, the film got a limited theatrical release that began on February 25, 2022, to March 2, 2022. Furthermore, it was released on April 4, 2022, in China for theatres.
- Much like other films like Escape from Planet Earth and Space Jam: A New Legacy, the concept of turning monsters into humans and vice versa by transform ray is wasted and ruined great potential: There would have been so many creative gags, as well as having an interesting perspective on monsters and their human lives, but unfortunately, it is very underused and overall very poorly executed in the film that is irrelevant to the plot, compared to the first three movies and in all this the only ones to undergo transformations are Johnny, Drac, Gigi, Zombie, Blobby, Tinkles, Frank, Murray, Griffin, and Wayne. The rest of the characters, including Mavis, Ericka, Van Helsing, Wanda, Eunice, Dennis, and Winnie, are not. At least, The Good Dinosaur tried to be an original concept, since the dinosaurs were able to evolve to become the jobs, like farmers and ranchers.
- Speaking of which, this idea was also the same version of Turning Red, except Turning Red did very well and makes sense, unlike this, since the main protagonist turns red every time whenever they express strong emotions.
- While there isn't that much reused footage from the previous films, the scene near the beginning where Dracula and Mavis were dancing with each other while upside down on the ceiling before Johnny is reused from the second film.
- Similar to other films like Wonder Park, Scoob! and Illumination's the Grinch, another main problem of the movie is that the pacing is way too fast: despite being 87 minutes runtime long, the pacing makes it feel like only 30 minutes long, which is so hard to follow at times that makes the pacing awful. The film is in fact overloaded with loads of way too many fillers here and there, considering also that the plot is very minimal and rushed.
- Compared to the first three films, the whole plot of the film is a huge cliché, un-cinematic and unoriginal, as it's just about someone making a mistake and everyone has to take a trip around the world to fix it before they do anything happens.
- The Amazon, South America, setting is also a very unoriginal destination world and has already been milked in several films such as Rio 2. And even if other countries like Japan and Australia would not give the same spirit, at least they are a more original and interesting destination world. Think about it: Dracula and Johnny going to find the stone in the Aokigahara forest and meet yo-kai and local monsters, isn't that too great an idea? Quite humorously ironic, it shares the same name as its streaming service Amazon Prime Video, which it acquired the distributor worldwide rights without China.
- They also still overused the clichés, like the generic "liar revealed" cliché from the previous films that were extremely off-putting and makes everyone getting feel so tried about it already that needs to stop, like where Dracula manipulates Johnny into believing that he can't own the hotel due to a real estate clause (when in actuality, Dracula simply found Johnny to be annoying), but once he ends up revealing the truth when confronted by the rest of the characters, Johnny becomes enraged with Dracula and storms off while becoming much bigger and angrier due to Dracula's manipulation.
- The climax is also too similar to Ralph Breaks the Internet. In that film, Ralph and Vanellope fight a series of Ralph's alter ego clones created by Arthur after Ralph and Vanellope have an argument, and Ralph resolves the issue by realizing that his past actions were bad and decides to talk the issue out. In this movie, almost the exact thing happens except with Johnny in his monster form turning evil and the rest of the gang trying to find the crystal that will turn everyone back to normal.
- Missed Opportunities: Rather than having Johnny wanting to become a monster to get Drac to like him (As that conflict was already resolved on the very first movie); a much more compelling and interesting storyline would've been him realizing that, since he's not an immortal monster like his wife and son, he won't live enough to be with them forever and decides to become one of them in order to never part away from his family.
- Gigi, the "alleged" antagonist of the film, is not only one of, if not, the worst villain of Hotel Transylvania series, but also an extremely bland and forgettable villain, because not only he has just over 4 minutes screen-time in the film, but also because he isn't very intimidating, even in his latest monstrous form (the one that destroyed the hotel) and very little motivations. On top of that, she didn't have a proper introduction, as she is initially portrayed as Van Helsing's hamster (which feeds the fact that she isn't intimidating) and she gets hit by the beam and goes mad. And as if that wasn't enough, she is defeated in no time ... by the transformation beam fired by Dracula, which eliminates any chance of a final battle with at least a decent climax. The first two villains of Hotel Transylvania, Quasimodo and Bela, while less screentime, underdeveloped, and not as good and memorable as Van Helsing in the third film, are still far better than Gigi. Gigi is also a major step down from Van Helsing and Ericka since they are more interesting villains that are significantly more screen-time and development, with more distinct personalities and crucial roles in the plot, as well as clever and funny motivations in the previous film.
- While the animation is very colorful and not bad in general, it may have the weakest and weirdest animation in the series, compared to the first three films. In all of this, some textures (such as the castle walls in Dracula's chamber) look like they came straight out of an Xbox 360 game while some models of the plants have a low poly look, which is unacceptable for a 2022 computer-animated film.
- There is also a noticeable reused models instead of creating new in the film. For example, in the scene where Johnny in his monster form runs through the corridors and is followed by Dracula who tries to use the ray beam, you can see the same picture of a naked woman lying down multiple times.
- Because of that, just like Earwig and the Witch, Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World and The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, some of the facial expressions the characters make are nightmare fuel (especially whenever the characters just screams for an apparent reason, like Dracula).
- Johnny's monstrous form looks bland and mediocre at best, as he is just a basically generic green dragon warped in Genndy's style. Also, Griffin's human form looks awful, uncanny, and disgusting and it looks like if Merida from Brave and Gargamel from the Smurfs had a fat, balding and annoying baby.
- Some main characters from the previous films are not involved in the protagonists' adventure and are too neglected as well as barely doing anything. In particular, characters like Dennis, Winnie, and Tinkles (minus the latter) have only 4-5 minutes on-screen and are left in the hotel as useless for the plot and appear as a brief gag when Dracula hypnotizes him, and again at the end when they find the Hotel destroyed as well as completely underutilized, despite being major characters since the second film. Also, Van Helsing doesn't have that much screen time either, as the last time we see him in the movie until the credits is when Gigi was trapped in the pipes. Not only that, the movie completely forgot about Vlad, who does not appear in any way at all and isn't even mentioned as well, due to Mel Brooks being unavailable to work with other media, like movies; it also leads to an unresolved raised question regarding Vlad: if Vlad was officially absent, did he leave the hotel already? Or did he died because of his old age?
- Speaking about Dennis and Winnie, it is very odd that both Mavis and Wanda left their father-sanitized children alone in the hotel where every 10 cubic meters is a danger, which means both Mavis and Wanda are bad mothers who only think about their husbands and not about the health of their children! They also survive the hotel being destroyed by Gigi for hiding safe spot. In real life, they would have gone arrested and straight to jail for such a thing with no reason by the police officers! Granted, both Mavis and Wanda are just worried about their husbands being left in the hotel, but still.
- Continuing to talk about Dennis, in relation to BQ# 4, another bigger problem with the waste of the gender swap subplot is that in a film where the plot revolves around a device that establishes a biological dichotomy between humans and monsters, how would this kind of thing affect a half-human, half-monster? Would it have a unique effect on him? Would he be immune to its effects entirely? Either way, he could have been integral to the plot by virtue of being a half-breed.
- The main characters are, predictably, affected by the curse of Flanderization:
- Dracula, while likable, has given a rather questionable characterization at best, since, like Naruto in Boruto: Next Generation, his character derailed a little bit since he hated Johnny in this film for some reason, even though several moments showed him bonding with Johnny all the way back in the first film, and he tolerates him pretty well in the second and third films.
- Johnny became another victim of Flanderization (again seriously, when will Hollywood learn that flanderization is rarely good and will most likely ruin good characters?), going from a romantic and playful thrill-seeker to a hyperactive man-child. Even Andy Samberg's performance is partly annoying, as while he does a pretty good job as always, for some reason he puts a higher pitch and a goofier register to his voice, which is more irritating than funny. He also proves to be a danger to the Hotel on its 125th birthday party, making Dracula completely right in not wanting to give his Hotel to Johnny, which is extremely out of character for him, because in the first film, Johnny was the responsible to bring fun and innovation to the Hotel's boring routine, and he never puts anyone in danger in the first three films.
- Even Mavis, while likeable, can get annoying for always defending Johnny and never understanding her father's side, heartlessly accusing Dracula of only caring about the hotel, which is painful to watch after all Dracula has been through in this film. She is also mildly out of character as in the previous two films, she was caring about Dennis and wanted to make sure he was safe at all costs but here she ditched him at the hotel even though it isn’t really safe there.
- The film can be described as 87 minutes of torture for Dracula, because throughout the entire film Drac is consistently treated as a butt-monkey as most of the movie's jokes have him constantly having a hard time trying to be a human. At least, Frank, Murray, Wayne, and Griffin cause some funny moments in their human forms. Of course, it can be assumed that all of this happened because of Drac's lie, but even then it is not justified that he should be constantly tortured in the film, also because in the finale he finally makes peace with Johnny and everything works out. Also, because of Johnny's flanderization, he became a danger to the hotel, as proven on its 125th birthday party celebration, making Dracula completely right in not wanting to give the Hotel to Johnny. Even for just being slapstick, it's still very little fun and extremely violent, which makes audiences feel more concerned about Drac than amused. Not to mention that the bullying Drac scene in the Amazon drags on for way too long, making it boring and even annoying.
- Speaking of the Amazon, this film carries the same problem of Rio 2 (another movie coincidentally set in the Amazon rainforest). In both films, despite the main protagonists Blu and Dracula being right, they get tortured throughout the whole picture, and the movie weirdly tries to make them look like the wrong guys in those situations, but both fails miserably, because the audiences are not dumb and they will notice Blu and Dracula are the least people on Earth to deserve what they go through in both films. The scene Mavis accuses Dracula of only caring about the Hotel feels pretty similar to the scene Jewel accuses Blu of only thinking about himself because they are both tasteless and painful to watch because neither Dracula nor Blu deserve that, and, because of this, the way they are both treated cause both films to be very annoying to watch sometimes and even mean-spirited.
- Tons of plot holes and continuity errors that retcon/contradict the events of the first three movies, even more than Summer Vacation:
- Perhaps the most infamous one is the fact that when Dracula is chasing Johnny in the corridors after he changes into a monster by Van Helsing, he hypnotizes Winnie and Dennis so they don't reveal to Mavis that Johnny is a monster yet, it is established in the second film, when Dennis is born, that vampires cannot be hypnotized by other vampires. However, it is possible that, as Dennis is half-human, that hypnotism would work on him, given the fact that the vampire side only comes from his mother Mavis.
- At one point, Dracula hates Johnny for some inexplicable reason, which was resolved all the way back during the first film, as said before.
- Despite it being confirmed in the first movie that Mavis, like her father, cannot go out in the sun, she happily travels through the jungle in the middle of the day without any ill effects. How is that possible?
- How did everyone survive the hotel being destroyed by Gigi in his monster form for hiding the safe spot for some reason?
- In Hotel Transylvania 2, there is a gag where the main characters fly in moped, and Murray is unrolled from his bandages and we can see how his body is slim and tall. In this film, Murray's human version is shown as short and fat.
- When Drac and Johnny were on top of the mountainous cliff, they were seen smaller when they were falling down the cliff in the same shot afterward.
- The transforming ray/beam effect of the drinking fountain (which is really done by Dracula, while chasing Johnny) can turn monsters into humans, but for some reason, Blobby and Tinkles are reduced to a plate of jelly and normal dogs instead of humans, respectively.
- The scene where Dracula chases Johnny down the corridors is, by far, the dumbest and most nonsensical scene in the film: what's the point of running and fatiguing to reach your goal when you are the king of vampires and you have incredible powers like immobilization and you can transform yourself into a bat that's faster than a human?
- On a similar note, at some point in the aforementioned chase scene, there's a wagon of suitcases blocking Drac's way, and he doesn't think it is a good idea to get over it and become a bat. Instead, he becomes a bat just to go through the wagon, only to show off a nasty gag where Dracula splits between suitcases.
- When they go to South America, the maps clearly show that they are in Brazil, but all of the signs are in Spanish and the people on the bus speak and sing in Spanish. In Brazil, they don't speak and sing Spanish, just Portuguese.
- Drac and Mavis are shown singing the song "Just the two of us" over 125 years ago despite it being a little over 40 years old.
- When Dracula freezes everyone to clean up the 125th-anniversary party of Hotel Transylvania after the party is over, it doesn't freeze on Mavis because according to Dracula, "Vampires can't freeze other vampires", which is rather incorrect because Dracula freezes Mavis at the end of the first movie and even the dinner scene in the second movie. This retcons plot hole of Mavis not being frozen by another Dracula also happened in the first episode of Hotel Transylvania: The Series, something that is carried over.
- One of the major plot holes is that the film continually acts like Dracula was intending to give the hotel to Johnny specifically, which is why he makes up the fake real estate law in the first place, but sometimes completely forgets that he was originally just going to put Mavis in charge. The lie doesn't even address the idea of Dracula passing it on her, explaining that she can't due to her being married to a human.
- Before he got completely furious with Dracula, Johnny, in his monster form, is acting sympathetically (despite his Flanderization) and somehow tried to help Drac on his jungle journey to Amazon. On the contrary, Gigi, who allegedly has always been supported by Van Helsing, becomes a terrifying monster who destroys the hotel. Even at first, she showed no signs of revenge or anger towards Van Helsing. If it weren't for this plot hole, Dracula's castle was technically safe then.
- Much like the second film, it is still confusing to how Mavis can still have her profile picture on the phone despite the fact that when take pictures, she is clearly not seen.
- Parts of the humor consist of useless jokes off butt and fart (even if there is only one, in the end credits). However, one of the dumbest, if not inappropriate jokes is when Griffin becomes human and the invisibility disappears, a close-up of his butt is shown after forming, which is very disgusting.
- The film has the need to make an appeal hip-and-cool to children in the strangest way you can imagine. For example, some trailers used the infamous song "How you like that?" by the Kpop group BlackPink, which has nothing to do with the film. And second, when Mavis becomes suspicious of where Dracula is, Wayne does the Renegade Dance for 10 seconds to bribe her, making this the most dated aspect of the entire movie and only exists to appeal to young TikTok users and Fortnite players.
- What makes even more heartbreaking is that they just forget and don't use some of the most important element stuff that makes this franchise memorable, for example, anything even remotely related to the whole concept of zinging (going as far as not using the word Zing even once), and quotes from previous films like "Human, monster, unicorn. It didn't matter.", And "Bleh Bleh Bleh". Actually, the latter quote is used, but once and in the wrong context, to the point that the reason why the film is no longer fun to watch nowadays.
- Instead of showing the viewer what the interiors of the rebuilt Hotel Transylvania and Health Spa looked like in computer-animated style during the ending of the movie where Mavis and Johnny rebuild and gives Dracula to see and got a new makeover one year later, they decided to opt to end the movie right before it happens and showed it off via a 2D animated credit style sequence instead, resulting being poorly executed and disappointing for some people.
- Even with Twitch streamer Ninja (also known as Richard Tyler Blevins) involved as a starring voice role, he barely gives off a voice performance consisting of anything other than two lines for Party Monster which is even drowned out by the Cha Cha Slide for the opening scene, meaning that this is yet another example of stunt casting just to get people to watch it, which as mentioned before, backfired back when this was going to be in theaters before they canceled the release because of COVID-19, making him wasted voice cast.
- False advertising: One poster displays that Tinkles is on the Amazon setting, implying that he might be the main characters, but it never happens, since Tinkles only appears in the Hotel and not the Amazon.
- Another misleading poster is that Vlad appears in the Chinese poster, but he doesn't even appear in the movie at all.
- Because of the awful pacing and un-cinematic storyline, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania feels like it is supposed to be a half-hour television special of a second low-budget CGI show based on the franchise that a full-fledged fourth installment was due to come out at the cinema.
- Some funny moments, like the first three movies, like when Dracula wondered why the bus was going slow and found that it was the heaviness of Johnny's monstrous form, the human monsters hiding behind the bags and their wives arrived one after another, a zombie who became human due to the beam and was cheering who said its over, he is human again, only to be bitten by another zombie and become a sad zombie, and basically any scenes involving human Frank, Wayne, Murray, Griffin (aside from the unnecessary butt jokes for Griffin). The one fart joke is actually funny and the way Drac and his friends get mad at Griffin for creating fart bubbles, despite the whirlpool plug being unplugged, is very hilarious.
- Dracula (despite his character derailment), Mavis (despite constantly defending Johnny), Ericka, Dennis, Frank, Winnie, Wayne, Griffin and Murray are likeable characters.
- Some human monster designs are decent: Murray is now a decrepit and fun old pharaoh, Drac and Wayne are decent, and Frank is nothing short of awesome.
- The animation is very decent and colorful, despite the flaws. Also, if the strange, jerky movements of the third film were bothering you, we have good news for you: in this film, they have been smoothed out.
- The 2D-animation style is decent during the end credits, just like the previous three films.
- The scene where Dracula avenges the destruction of the hotel by turning Gigi back to normal is pretty good.
- Dracula's reaction to the destruction of the hotel is extremely sad and heartbreaking. It was the saddest moment in the Hotel Transylvania franchise.
- The ending involving Dracula, Mavis, and their friends rebuilding the hotel is heartwarming, despite the poorly executed. In fact, during the end credits, the rebuilt hotel got a new makeover.
- Excellent voice acting by all actors, due to the cast reprising the role in the first three films as well as the new cast. Brian Hull, in particular, gives a fantastic performance, almost sounding identical to Adam Sandler. The same can kind of be said about Brad Abrell as Frank, but he isn't in the film enough for it to leave an impression as Kevin James.
- The idea of the monsters being transformed into humans by the transforming ray is good, too bad to say, it is very underutilized and poorly executed. Like Minions (2015), the aforementioned concept could work if it is put into another Hotel Transylvania short film, since the previous short films have good side stories and concepts, like "Monster Pets", (which was directed by the same ones for this film) and that those side stories and concepts are decently executed.
- Like the first three films, Mark Mothersbaugh's score is still great.
- The opening song about the hotel's past is also very fantastic and memorable. As it makes a callback to the beginning of the very first film that started it all.
Like the first three films, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania received mixed reviews from critics, though, unlike the movie's three predecessors, the reaction from the audiences were mixed and they considered it the weakest film in the franchise, despite it didn't cause Sony Pictures Animation to go downhill again. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 49% of 77 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.20/10. The website's consensus reads, "Much like the trio of films it follows, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is middling family viewing -- relatively painless, but overall rather uninspired." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 46 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
AniMat gives it 3/10, saying that Drac should not just retire, but all the characters should retire as well.
Reviews and Top 10s
- All four Hotel Transylvania films had been released the same year as a Pixar film featuring a male and female main protagonist. Hotel Transylvania was released the same year as Brave with Merida in 2012, Hotel Transylvania 2 was released the same year as Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur with Joy and Arlo in 2015, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation was released the same year as Incredibles 2 with Elastigirl in 2018, and this film was released the same year as Turning Red and Lightyear with Mei Lee and Buzz Lightyear in 2022.
- Additionally, the first and third movie have been released the same year as one Pixar film, while the second and fourth movie have been released the same year as two Pixar films.
- Unlike the first three films, the title was shown in the end credits.
- This is the second SPA film not to feature the Columbia Pictures print logo in the end credits, just the Sony Pictures logo like in Vivo.
- Unlike the third film, which didn't show it, The Columbia Pictures logo is shown at the beginning but using a different variant than the first 2 movies. This time, the torch lady becomes Blobby instead of a bat.
- It is also the only film to use the 2018 Sony Pictures Animation logo (which was introduced in Spider-Verse, the same year the third HT Movie came out which had the 2011 logo) where Tinkles carries the logo in its mouth and puts it in the screen.
- Had this gotten a theatrical release like planned, this would've been the fourth fully animated movie series to have 4 installments released in cinemas, after Shrek, Ice Age, and Toy Story.
- This would have also meant that Sony Pictures Animation would be the fourth feature animation studio to have a fully animated movie series with 4 installments released in cinemas, after Dreamworks, Blue Sky, and Pixar, the latter 2 being owned by Disney.
- There was a controversy involving this movie where Tumblr thought Griffin was hot then was surprised when he wasn't hot (we don't know why either).
- Adam Sandler and Kevin James did not return for the film, because they work for current upcoming Netflix movie projects.
- It is also the only film to use a variant of the Sony 2014-2021 motion logo (where it gains vampire fangs). It also will likely be SPA's last film ever to use the 2014-2021 Sony motion logo in general.
- A possible reason why the Sony 2014-2021 motion logo was used here was due to the film's long delay, with it shifting from theatrical to streaming in the process. It also did not help that during the delay, Sony introduced their new motion logo in 2021.
- This page has more bytes of all prequels' pages put together.