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
As with most of the bringing cartoons to life films, the plot is secondary to the actual fact of getting the previously 2 dimensional characters into real figures and certainly in this film the plot is a little suspect at times.
As for the actual characters themselves you have three outstanding performances in Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini as Shaggy and Velma respectively, who capture perfectly not only the actions of their characters but display two of the finest vocal impressions ever. The other outstanding performance is the CGI Scooby who is beautifully animated and fitted with the real life action. Sarah Michelle Gellar is limp and added for purely visual reasons, yes Daphne was the girly heroine of the gang, but she was never that wimpy! Worse of the bunch by a huge mile is Freddie Prinze Jnr who is simply awful as Fred. Not only has he recreated Fred's character into a posturing vain empty head, he doesn't even do it very well.
All in all this is a good fun film, and funnily enough all my children, who were never brought up on a Saturday morning TV diet of Scooby Doo as I was, love it immensely and return to it again and again.