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(Family Double Feature)


It really came as no surprise when the live action SCOOBY-DOO proved to be critic proof and did a rather brisk business at the box office. Let’s face it; SCOOBY-DOO the movie was made for the diehard fans of the three decade old Saturday morning cartoon show- and not the critics. By no stretch of the imagination is SCOOBY-DOO good cinema, which is probably what perturbed the movie critics, but the movie is amusing and seems to push all the right buttons for the TV show’s fan base. If nothing else, the movie version of SCOOBY-DOO confirmed something that I’ve suspected since my teen years. Underneath those nerdy glasses and turtleneck sweater, Velma is a babe with a real nice rack…

The live action version of SCOOBY-DOO doesn’t stray too far from the formula of the animated TV show, but it does put a new spin on things and isn’t afraid to poke fun at the repetitive nature of the characters and situations. SCOOBY-DOO opens with the members of Mystery Inc. solving another one of their typical cases. However, a number of longstanding personal resentments cause the members of the Scooby Gang to go their separate ways. After two years apart, they are reunited by separate invitations to the Spooky Island theme park, where they are requested to solve a mystery involving ancient island spirits that has been transforming the resort’s college age guests into seemingly brainwashed zombies.

All of the TV show's animated characters have been brought to life by some good to great casting choices. With his hair died blonde, Freddie Prinze Jr. is well suited to the role of Fred Jones, the self-absorbed leader of Mystery Inc. Sarah Michelle Gellar is perfect as the shallow and danger prone Daphne Blake, who tries in this movie to reinvent herself in the mold of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I don’t think there is any other actor that could have brought Norville 'Shaggy' Rogers to life as well as Matthew Lillard. Not only does Lillard look and sound like Shaggy- he is Shaggy. As good as Lillard is, I have to say that I love Linda Cardellini as Velma Dinkley. Not only does Cardellini nail the character as portrayed in the cartoon show, she brings a new dimension to the role… and confirms my long held suspicions about the character. Finally, we come to the title character- the cowardly canine detective that has been entertaining us for more than four decades. The CGI version of SCOOBY-DOO offers just the right mixture of real dog and cartoon canine, so he fits into live action settings, while still being recognizable as the character that we have all grown to love. The cast of SCOOBY-DOO also features Rowan Atkinson, Isla Fisher, Miguel A. Nez Jr., Charles Cousins, Steven Grives, Sam Greco, Nicholas Hope, as well as the vocal talents of Neil Fanning and Scott Innes.


As with the first live action film based upon the antics of cowardly canine detective, SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED isn’t going to win anyone an Oscar, but it does prove to be generally harmless and amusing fun. Of course, I should also note that SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED is actually a somewhat better movie than its predecessor, since it sticks somewhat closer to the successful formula of the SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU! television series. This time out, we find that the members of Mystery Inc. have continued their long run of success, which, as the film opens, is being honored by a museum exhibit dedicated to the mysteries the gang has solved over the course of their careers.

Unfortunately, the museum dedication is ruined by a new masked bad guy who sets out to destroy Mystery Inc., by bringing to life real incarnations of monsters they faced down in the past. When the museum debacle gets a lot of bad press, the two members of Mystery Inc. noted for their enormous appetites, begin to question their value to the enterprise, and set out to try and solve this new mystery on their own. But, before the villain is unmasked, the audience is treated to plenty of red herrings, plus quite a bit slapstick and goofy lowbrow humor… which is just what one should expect from any movie based upon a cartoon series. The cast of SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED features Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, Linda Cardellini as Velma and Neil Fanning as the voice of the CGI Scooby-Doo. Seth Green, Peter Boyle and Alicia Silverstone lend their support to the proceedings.

Warner Home Video has made the Double Feature of SCOOBY-DOO and SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED ($25) available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Both 1080p presentations are quite nice to look at, delivering sharp, well-defined image with a lot of texturing and fine detail. Of course, high definition also makes the cheesy aspects of the films’ CGI work look even cheesier- said cheese was easier to overlook in SD. On the plus side, both presentations sport a bright, shiny pleasing look, as well as rich, highly saturated hues that are far more intense than anything produced by Hanna Barbera in 1969. Across the board, blacks are deep, whites are crisp and contrast is smooth. Shadow detail is just fine for this type of family friendly material. The elements from which SCOOBY-DOO and SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED have been mastered are free from flaws. Both presentations display a very light veneer of grain.

SCOOBY-DOO is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtrack, while SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED comes with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The lossy track on the first film is kind of brash sounding in comparison to the lossless track on the second. For SCOOBY-DOO, the mix tends to favor the forward soundstage more than I liked, leaving the rear channels underutilized, except for ambience and musical fill. SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED features a better sound design than the first film, but is still a bit front loaded. Still, there is better use of the rear channels on the second film, plus the lossless encode makes for smoother sounding sonics. There is strong bass present on both films, but it is better resolved on the lossless sound track. French 5.1 Dolby Digital channel tracks are present on both films. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as, the supplements many of which are ported over from the DVD editions of the films. SCOOBY-DOO features two running Audio Commentary tracks; the first includes director Raja Gosnell, producers Richard Suckle and Charles Roven, while the second features cast members Freddie Prince Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini. As you might have guessed the filmmakers' commentary cover the technical end of the production, while the cast commentary is more laid back and fun. SCOOBY-DOO also features about thirteen minutes worth of Deleted Scenes, which can be viewed with or without director's commentary. For the most part, deleted scenes usually belong on the cutting room floor, but some of the material here I wish had been included back into the body of the film. I am particularly partial to the alternate opening credit sequence, which featured the animated versions of the characters. Unmasking The Mystery behind Scooby-Doo is a twenty-plus minute featurette that takes a look behind-the-scenes at the making of the movie with a CGI Scooby-Doo, as well as offering interviews with the creators of the original Saturday morning cartoon show and the cast members, who talk about bringing these classic animated characters to life.

Scary Places runs under five minutes and focuses on the production design and sets that bring this creepy Scooby-Doo mystery to life. The Mystery Van looks at the final design of The Mystery Machine in the movie, as well as glimpsing more than fifty optional versions that the production designer came up with. Daphne Fight Scene is a two-minute program that focuses on Sarah Michelle Gellar being strapped into a harness on wires for her Hong Kong style martial arts sequence. The Outkast Music Video for the song Land Of A Million Drums is also provided. A Theatrical Trailer closes out the supplements.

SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED features about seven minutes of Deleted Scenes that can be viewed with or without commentary by director Raja Gosnell. The deleted scenes don’t really add to the story, but they are interesting to watch because they contain incomplete animation of the CGI Scooby-Doo character. Next there are three featurettes Triple Threat- a ten minute making of, True Ghoul Hollywood Story- a five minute parody of a sit down with some villains, and Dancing Dog- a five minute look at how they made the Doo boogie. Two Music Videos are also provided: Thank You by Big Brovaz and Don't Wanna Think About You by Simple Plans.

The Family Double Feature of SCOOBY-DOO and SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED provides harmless fun for kids and long time fans of the Scooby gang. The Blu-ray presentations are look and sound pretty darn sweet, making the double feature an attractive upgrade for fans.


Scooby-Doo 1 & 2 Collection (Family Double Feature) [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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