Ghosts haunting spooky old factories? Hip kids being brainwashed? The Darkopalypse about to engulf the world? Scooby-Doo
, where are you? But the gang have all fallen out and dissolved the Mystery Inc partnership for good. Jinkeys! Luckily a strange invitation to solve a mystery on Spooky Island has unwittingly reunited the now-flopped members of the team. Can ghoul-getting gang get along again?
The latest in a long line of live-actioned-up retro cartoon faves, Scooby-Doo features superb action set-pieces and seamlessly blended live actor/CGI interaction--our eponymous hero is rendered with particular panache. What's more, the special effects are backed by a scarily well-written script and some frighteningly good performances. The Buffy-tastic Sarah Michelle Gellar was born to be Daphne, and Matthew Lillard is show-stealing as the dream-to-play Shaggy. The characters themselves are darkly developed--Fred is now a vain egotist, Velma a last-picked-at-sport geek and Daphne a Clueless-style airhead. Happily, Shaggy and Scooby are still a pair of snack-happy gormless goofs for whom friendship outweighs all else.
Scooby-Doo manages to be great fun for the kids without neglecting the fans of the original (1969!) series. Alongside the fun, frights and frantic action are clever in-jokes and even a few hints at some rather adult goings on--Shaggy getting "toasted" in a smokey hippy-style camper van may explain why he's always so peckish. Throw in a surprise appearance from a love-to-hate familiar face, some Charlie's Angels-style wire work and a storming rap-rock soundtrack and this'll frighten the life out of the competition. If you're thinking of missing it--Scooby-Don't.
On the DVD: Scooby-Doo is beautifully realised in this anamorphic widescreen transfer--the picture is crisp, the colour dazzling and the sound crystal-clear. The menu screen is entertainingly presented with plenty of extras to explore. Highlights include the "Daphne Fight Scene", the Outcast music video and the "making-of" short "Unmasking the Mystery", which features a rare appearance from an ancient Joseph Barbera and reveals the cast and crew to be a personable, fun-loving bunch. The real stand-out here, though, is the "Alternative Scenes" section. The dropped scenes--which include a superb cartoon intro sequence--really add an extra level of understanding to the film, and one suspects that it's only because of today's attention-span challenged audiences that some of the best bits ended up on the cutting-room floor. --Paul Eisinger
Zoinks! Two years after a clash of egos forced Mystery Inc. to close its doors, Scooby-Doo and his clever crime-solving cohorts Fred, Daphne, Shaggy and Velma are individually summoned to Spooky Island to investigate a series of paranormal incidents at the ultra-hip Spring Break hot spot.