“Hotel Transylvania”: Adam Sandler provides the voice of Dracula, who tries to balance running the titular hotel and raising his teenage daughter Mavis (Selma Gomez). While much, much better than Sandler’s last foray into animation, 2002’s “Eight Crazy Nights”, it’s not a particularly visually inventive film or inventive in any sense really despite the presence of director Genndy Tartakovsky (“Samurai Jack”). Tartakovsky’s beautiful and innovative early ‘00s work, there was some expectation that his first feature would be something of an event but this film, which Tartakovsky apparently took over as the film’s sixth director in five years, is clearly a work-for-hire job that is unmistakable a Sandler production. If Sandler allowed Tartakovsky to follow his own impulses and not cram in a few deeply unpleasant musical numbers, this might have been a McRib, but instead it’s a McDouble. Also featuring the voices of Andy Samberg, Kevin James, and Fran Drescher.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, a 3D presentation of the film, a prologue to the film, four featurettes, deleted scenes, a music video, and commentary with Tartakovsky, producer Michelle Murdocca, and visual effects supervisor Daniel Kramer.
“Paranormal Activity 4”: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, directors of the sensational possibly fake documentary “Catfish” once again go for that found footage horror movie money with this fourth installment of the “Paranormal Activity” series. Like most of the nation, I found the Manti Te’o scandal fascinating and re-watched “Catfish” since Te’o’s camp evoked the Internet romance gone wrong movie in explaining how he had a multi-year relationship with an imaginary woman. While reaffirming that the events depicted in the film were obviously the product of a calculated narrative, I was struck by the simple beauty of Joost and Schulman’s B-roll footage. There’s a lot interesting dance and nature photography in between the incredibly contrived amateur detective work. You can see why “Paranormal Activity” creator Oren Peli hired the duo to spruce up his somnambulant franchise with a bit of visual flair, they can really make the mundane a lot interesting. Sadly, the pair didn’t come up with anything as clever as the ceiling fan cam to spice up the thoroughly boring “Paranormal Activity 4” but I do hope that they collaborate with Terrence Malick soon. Starring Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, and Katie Featherston.
Special feature: A digital copy of the film, an unrated presentation of the film, and 30 minutes of extra footage. That’s like getting a head cold that also permanently robs you of your sight.
“Seven Psychopaths”: Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”) directs his second feature, a black comedy which follows the titular psychologically disturbed individuals and screenwriter Marty’s (Colin Farrell) attempts to document their lives for his next film. There’s at least a dozen good to great ideas in the film and Christopher Walken gives his best performance in years but it’s far too busy being clever and self-satisfied to be a good movie. Read my full review here. Also starring Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Tom Waits.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, a gag reel and six featurettes.
“The Cold Light of Day”: Henry Cavil (“Man of Steel”) stars as a businessman whose Spanish vacation is disrupted when his entire family is kidnapped and he has to turn into a Bruce Willis type to get them back. Luckily, Bruce Willis is on hand to help as Cavil’s father. As much as I enjoyed Mabrouk El Mechri’s Jean Claude Van Damme deconstruction “JCVD”, I find Cavil a less compelling screen presence than a piece of varnished oak so I passed on this and recommend you do the same. Also starring Sigourney Weaver, Verónica Echegui, and Colm Meany.
Special features: None.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org