Archive for Scooby-Doo

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mystery Inc. (Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo) attend the opening of an exhibition at the Coolsonian Criminology Museum commemorating their past solved cases with monster costumes on display. However, the celebrations are interrupted by the Evil Masked Figure who steals two costumes using the reanimated Pterodactyl Ghost. The gang are ridiculed by journalist Heather Jasper Howe who starts a smear campaign against them. Concluding an old enemy is the mastermind, the gang revisit old cases, dismissing the former Pterodactyl Ghost, Jonathan Jacobo, due to his death during a prison escape, they guess Jeremiah Wickles, the Black Knight Ghost’s portrayer, is the culprit.

Going to Wickles’ mansion, the gang find a book that serves as an instruction manual on how to create monsters. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo find a note inviting Wickles’ to visit the Faux Ghost nightclub. They are attacked by the Black Knight, but escape when Daphne holds him off. Shaggy and Scooby sneak into the Faux Ghost, speaking to Wickles, but learn he has resolved his ways. The rest of the gang discover the key ingredient to create the monsters is a substance called “randomonium” which can be found at the old silver mining town. They go to the museum, accompanied by the curator and Velma’s love interest Patrick Wisely, but discover the rest of the costumes have been stolen. The gang go to the mines, finding Wickles plans to turn it into an amusement park.

The gang then find the Monster Hive where the costumes are brought to life as real monsters. Shaggy and Scooby play around the with the machine’s control panel, brining several costumes to life, and the gang flee the city with the panel as the Evil Masked Figure terrorises the city. Escaping to their old high school clubhouse, the gang realise they can reverse the control panel’s power by altering its wiring. Captain Cutler’s Ghost emerges from the bayou, forcing the gang to head back to the mines, encountering the various monsters along the way. Velma encounters Patrick in the mines, finding a shrine dedicated to Jacobo, but Patrick proves his own innocence by rescuing Velma from falling through a cat walk.

The gang confront the Evil Masked Figure but the Tar Monster captures all of them save Scooby, who uses a fire extinguisher to freeze the Tar Monster’s body. He reactivates the control panel, transforming the costumes back to normal. The gang take the Evil Masked Figure to the authorities, unmasking him as Heather, but in turn reveal she is actually Jacobo in disguise, having escaped death and tried to get revenge on Mystery, Inc. Jacobo’s cameraman Ned is also arrested as an accomplice. Mystery, Inc. are praised as heroes once again in Coolsville.

REVIEW:

After foiling all those monsters in Coolsville, wouldn’t you think that Scooby-Doo and the gang would be bona fide star in their city? Big enough to perhaps even have a museum dedicated to their exploits? Be honest, you never really though about that, did you? Me neither, but the people behind Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed must have been big fans!

What is this about?

In this live-action adventure, friends Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and their canine buddy Scooby vow to put an end to a menacing scoundrel who plans to turn their town of Coolsville into the complete opposite.

What did I like?

They’re back! The original Scooby-Doo cartoon was before my time but, as a child of the 80s, there was another incarnation that would come on Saturday mornings. These days, I think you can catch Scooby on Boomerang, as well as some insult to his legacy on Cartoon Network. In this film, though, you can catch some of the more recognizable monsters from Scoob’s history. If there is nothing else to be said about this film, that is something to mention, as the monsters are a major part of the history of Scooby-Doo, just as the rogues gallery is a big part of Batman.

Velma. In Scooby-Doo, I was a bit critical of the sexualization of Velma. Make no mistake, I still feel this way, but this time around, they at least do it to comic effect. Take for instance the scene where she is wearing a pleather suit. First off, no way in the world would you ever catch Velma in that get-up. Second, they play up the weird noises as she is awkwardly playing coy to Seth Green’s character, who has a crush on her. If Velma must be seen in this light, and if you google Velma, you will see that there is more than a market for it, then I am glad the film decided to go this direction, which keeps with the character, rather than randomly give her cleavage, as in the last film.

Story. There have been many detractors about the film’s story, calling it to simple, dumbed down, etc. Well, here’s the thing, as much as everyone loves Scooby-Doo, we must remember that this wasn’t made for adults, but rather for kids. Saying that the plot, which actually isn’t bad if you think about it, is simple is like saying Requiem for a Dream is depressing. That’s common sense, people! The target audience for this film, though, eats it up, as well as some others, and that is what really matters, not what some old curmudgeon critic who has become jaded toward all film that isn’t “art” has to say.

What didn’t I like?

Effects. I don’t want to criticize the special effects too much, as this was made at a time when they weren’t that great, and it is a kid’s film, so they are going to have a different look to them. That said, the CG in this film is not that great. Taking into account that, as I said this is a kid’s film, the monsters have a cartoon look to them, which is fine. That fits the tone of the film, but I feel as if the bringing them to life aspect should have made them scarier. Take for instance the Tar Monster. He has the generic cartoon look to him. Why couldn’t he have been more of a terrorizing creature now that he is alive? Maybe that’s just my opinion on how the effects could have been better, though.

Meta-attempt. Poking fun at one’s self is great…to a point. The last film was all about the flaws of the cartoon and while this one scales that back, we are still forced to watch as Daphne questions what she brings to the gang, Fred ponders if he’s a good leader, etc. Can we not just get a Scooby-Doo movie where the gang has fun solving mysteries and busting monsters, without all this negativity? Is that too much to ask?

Flashback. Let me go back to the monsters for a minute. To explain to the younger viewers and refresh/remind the older viewers who these monsters were, the film uses a series of flashback to get the point across. I am okay with that, except that I feel it would have made more sense to show these monsters in their animated for, rather than create some faux history. Yes, I know showing clips from the cartoon in a live-action movie makes no sense, but surely there is some way there can be a compromise, right? I just wasn’t feeling the live-action flashbacks, I’m sorry.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monster Unleashed is almost a cartoon, if you really thin about it, but no one took the time to draw it. Personally, I like this film. It is a fun escape from reality. That doesn’t mean it is good, though. There is wasted talent, such as Alicia Silverstone, who has one good scene, and Seth Green, recycled jokes from the first film, bad CG, and a feeling as if the gang was just doing this because it was in their contracts. Add all this up and you have the reason this film didn’t make as much as its predecessor and the third film was cancelled (though I’m sure it would have been better than the prequels and everything Scooby related that has come out since). Do I recommend this? It is with a heavy heart, that I must say no. This is this the kind of film you catch while you are randomly flipping through channels, not something you willingly watch. Just go back and watch the first film, or even better, watch the cartoons!

3 out of 5 stars

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Scooby-Doo

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a warehouse, the Mystery, Inc. gang illustrates a plan to catch the Luna Ghost who has kidnapped Daphne Blake (Sarah Michelle Gellar), flying around with her bound and gagged which goes astray but ends with Shaggy Rogers, (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby-Doo, (voiced by Neil Fanning) causing the Ghost to be caught. After solving the mystery, constant arguments among the members of Mystery Incorporated about Fred Jones (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) taking credit for Velma Dinkley’s (Linda Cardellini) ideas cause the gang to go their separate ways, much to the sadness of Shaggy and Scooby. Two years later, Shaggy and Scooby are approached to solve the mystery of the popular horror resort Spooky Island, reuniting with Fred, Daphne and Velma, although none of the latter are thrilled to see each other, except for Shaggy and Scooby, who still want Mystery Incorporated to re-unite. On the island, the gang meets Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson), the park’s owner, who explains his theory that visitors are being cursed. Shaggy falls in love with a girl named Mary Jane (Isla Fisher), while Scooby is mysteriously targeted by demonic creatures. Velma meets a man named N’Goo Tuana and his henchman, the famous luchador Zarkos, who explains that demons once ruled the island.

The gang visits the island’s abandoned ghost castle, where Daphne finds a pyramid-shaped artifact called the Daemon Ritus and Velma and Fred find a strange room with videos designed to address non-humans. When the gang returns to the hotel, they are attacked by the island demons, who kidnap numerous tourists including Fred, Velma and Mondavarious. The next day, Daphne is captured by Zarkos, while Shaggy and Scooby discover Fred, Velma and the tourists are now possessed by the demons. The two flee with Mary Jane, until Scooby realizes she is possessed as well. In the midst of an argument between Scooby and Shaggy, Scooby falls down a hole, followed by Shaggy, who dives in to save him. Shaggy comes across a vat containing the protoplasmic souls of everyone who was captured, including the rest of the gang, and releases the gangs’ souls to their bodies. Velma discovers that the demons are destroyed in sunlight just like vampires, while Daphne and Fred’s souls end up in the wrong bodies.

Shaggy steals the Daemon Ritus and reunites with the gang after their souls correct themselves. Coming across Voodoo Maestro, the gang learns that if the leader of the demons absorbs a pure soul through the Daemon Ritus, then the demons shall rule the world for the next 10,000 years. The pure soul belongs to Scooby, while the demons’ leader is Mondavarious. Shaggy convinces the gang to put their differences aside and finally work together to save Scooby. They form a plan but it fails and Scooby’s soul is extracted. Scooby is saved by Shaggy, wounding Mondavarious in the attempt. Fred and Velma discover he is actually a robot, controlled by none other than Scooby’s nephew, Scrappy-Doo (voiced by Scott Innes), who the gang abandoned years ago due to his egotism. Now vengeful, Scrappy transforms into a giant demon called Scrappy Rex (voiced by J. P. Manoux) to destroy the gang and rule the world using the tourists’ souls he absorbed.

Daphne fights Zarkos above the island’s caves, knocking him through the roof, which exposes the demons to sunlight and kills them. Shaggy confronts Scrappy and rips the Daemon Ritus from his chest, freeing the souls and reverting Scrappy to his original self. Shaggy finds the real Mondavarious trapped in a hole and frees him. Scrappy and his minions are arrested. Daphne and Fred kiss, Shaggy and Mary-Jane hug along with Scooby, and Velma hugs a man she met earlier then punched him while laughing. When Mystery Incorporated addresses the press, Velma thinks that Fred will take credit for her ideas again, however Fred lets Velma take the credit she deserves after feeling bad for her. Mystery Incorporated is then re-united after Scrappy-Doo and Zarkos are arrested.

At the end, Scooby and Shaggy are eating food at the Spooky Island hotel. They both eat hot peppers and scream as smoke comes out of the hotel

REVIEW:

Chances are you grew up watching some version of Scooby-Doo, unless you’re from the generations before he was created. As such, there is a great love for this giant, talking great dane, even from someone like me who despises dogs! So, it is any wonder that there was a live-action Scooby-Doo film? The question is, though, does this do Scooby justice?

What is this about?

In this live-action feature, Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, Fred and Velma journey to Spooky Island, where a magical force is awakened that could spell doom for the human race. But the Mystery Inc. gang remains skeptical that there are any ghosts at work.

What did I like?

Bring the cartoon to life. There have been a number of cartoons that have been brought to life on the big screen, but many critics have called them “too cartoony”. Am I the only one that sees the irony in that? This film manages to not be as cartoony, but still keep that fun tone of the cartoons. Let’s face it, you’re not going into this expecting some sort of epic dark flick. If you are, then you have some serious issues and need some help. The bright colors, food jokes, witty banter are all there from the beloved show. All that was missing was a cameo from the Harlem Globetrotters!

So that’s what happened! In this day and age, it is regrettably popular to make fun of and criticize the things we loved and grew up with. How else do you explain the popularity of Robot Chicken? I mean, seriously, Optimus Prime with prostate cancer?!? Anyway, when we’re not criticizing and having a laugh at the expense of nostalgia, we have the urge to wonder what happened after the proverbial cameras stopped rolling. In this case, we find out that Mystery, Inc. kept fighting crime for a little bit, but eventually they disbanded, going their separate ways and doing their own thing. Since the setting is a couple of years after that, then it is a nice touch to see what did happen, although I think that should have been more than 2 years.

Shaggy. For the most part, the cast brings these characters to life. I know that Freddie Prinze, Jr. is a huge fan of Scooby-Doo (and Sarah Michelle Gellar probably is…by marriage HA!), so his take on Fred is earnest. Linda Cardellini is dead on with Velma, but the shining star has to be Matthew Lillard as Shaggy. He not only has the tall, lanky look I’d expect from out favorite alleged stoner, he also has the voice. No, it isn’t quite Casey Kasem, but it’s a passable facsimile. Leave us not forget that Lillard also manages to bring the lovable side of Shaggy to the screen, his relationship with Scooby (and food), and gets a love interest in the uber cute Isla Fisher (who looks totally different as a blonde). Did I mention that this guy has done such a good job with the character that he is currently voicing him in the current cartoons!

What didn’t I like?

Sexualization of Velma. Velma’s sexual orientation has long been the topic of conversation, which may be the reason they decided to have her hook up with Shaggy in the new abomination of a cartoon they have now. However, in this film, they decide to capitalize on Linda Cardellini’s hotness, as well as the mind control part of the plot and took her out of her glasses and loose-fitting turtleneck (keeping the knee socks and making her dress a bit tighter) and replaced it with some low-cut V-neck shirt that show cleavage. That’s right, Velma shows cleavage. That just isn’t right! One more thing, in a deleted scene, Daphne comes looking for her and finds her in with no shirt on dancing on the table. If I recall, they kiss before the scene ends. Ugh…why? Why did they do this to Velma?!?

Fred’s tan. As I said earlier, Freddie Prinze, Jr. has been very vocal of his love for Scooby-Doo, and he does a good job with Fred. However, Prinze is Hispanic, and as such his skin is a bit…shall we say, tan? This should be no problem. Fred seems to be the kind who would go for a tan when he had the chance, so no biggie. However, with the blonde wig it doesn’t work. I guess I really shouldn’t complain, it’s not like they stuck the wig on him, and then gave him blue contacts a la Jessica Alba in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Prinze at least looks more natural, as much as one can. Should they have cast someone else? No, but the should have found a wig that matched better.

Scooby snacks, CG, and Scrappy-Doo. You know those cookies that come in a tin and seem to last forever because they don’t get stale? Well, that’s what Scooby Snacks are reduced to in this film. For something that is such a major part of the cartoon, they were nothing more than cookies here and not even used to help Shaggy and Scooby gain some confidence. WTF?!? The CG is dated, but I’m split on how I feel about it. On the one hand Scooby doesn’t look half bad. I prefer to see this than a real dog with a CG bottom lip moving as is the norm these days for some reason (see Marmaduke). On the other hand, there are the creatures who look cheap and recycled. Again, this CG is dated, but come on, guys! Finally, Scrappy-Doo makes an appearance. Now, if you’re familiar with Scrappy, then you know that fans are split as to whether they like him or not. I won’t spoil anything, but 50% of the audience will like what happens to him and the other 50% won’t. For me, I feel he should have been part of the gang or a family reunion, along with Scooby-Dum, but I guess 3 CG dogs, er 2 1/2, would have been too much to ask for, right?

When you get right down to it, Scooby-Doo is not a film that was made for any other reason than to entertain kids and give fanservice to the older generations that grew up on the cartoon. There is nothing serious about this film, though, the plot does seem a bit dark for this film, what with the taking of souls and whatnot. That being said, they keep things light and happy throughout, finding a way to at least attempt to appease everyone. Whether it works or not is a personal judgment call. For me, though, I think this is a good afternoon watch, so give it shot!

4 out of 5 stars