Back in 1969, Saturday morning cartoons were all the rage. One of the staples back then was the Hanna-Barbera produced Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. Now forty years later, Scooby-Doo is still popular – maybe not Disney character popular, but popular still – enough to warrant not one but two live-action movie. In 2002, the first live-action Scooby-Doo movie hit theaters. It was followed by a sequel in 2004, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Now both filmed have been packaged together and released on Blu-ray.
The films maintain the original show premise: a mystery-solving business that is run by four teenagers and their pet Great Dane with a speech impediment. The gang is led by Fred Jones (Freddie Prinze Jr.), a blond-haired all-American boy, and he’s joined by Daphne Blake (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a rich, beautiful redhead skilled in martial arts, Velma Dinkley (Linda Cardellini), the nerdy problem solver, Shaggy Rogers (Matthew Lillard), an easily-spooked and often stoned hippie and Shaggy’s best friend and dog, Scooby-Doo, who is equally as afraid of everything. They all travel around in a custom van dubbed the Mystery Machine as they attempt to thwart the evil schemes of criminals who use the paranormal activity to trick others.
In Scooby-Doo, the gang’s adventure begins in the Wow-O toy factory. They have just solved the Case of the Luna Ghost but the aftermath leaves everyone at each other’s throats. No one can deal with each other’s personal quirks and the Mystery Inc. team decide to go their separate ways. Two years later, each member of the gang is approached by Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson), an owner of an amusement park called “Spooky Island.”
Mondavarious believes that the young people visiting his park are being put under a spell that renders them mindless and compliant. He wants the gang to investigate. At first, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby are reluctant to work together, but eventually decide to team up if they are to unravel the mystery of Spooky Island.
In Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Mystery Inc. is being honored in their hometown of Coolsville with the opening of the Coolsonian Criminology Museum. The museum’s curator, Patrick Wisely (Seth Green) has created an exhibit featuring costumes worn by culprits in the many cases the gang has cracked. But things go crazy during the museum’s grand opening when the costumes come to life. Blaming it all on Mystery Inc., reporter Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone) trashes the gang in the press. To save their reputation, the gang must figure out who’s bringing these old monsters back to life.
Both live-action films have problems deciding what kind of films they want to be. The writers couldn’t decide if they wanted these films to be for older adults, who grew up with the cartoon, or newer kids. So they basically tried to target both audiences and filled the films with trademark drug-references and other double entendres that made the cartoon series amusing, but at the same time also filled it with juvenile potty humor that generally kids only find funny.
The first Scooby-Doo has the most problems balancing things out and, as a result, is actually worse overall than the second film. Scooby-Doo 2 is definitely more fun to watch solely based on the nostalgia factor of seeing all of the old villains again. At the same time, the CGI-effects look better in the first film, so it’s go that going for it.
Perhaps the bigger complaint is the cast. Matthew Lillard is pretty much spot on as Shaggy. Linda Cardellini also does a great job in portraying Velma. But Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar don’t really portray the same characters as most people remember from the cartoon series. Most of the blame should probably be directed towards the writers for changing their core personalities of these characters, but Prinze and Gellar could have certainly done more to make their character somewhat likable. Again, the second film does the better job of getting the characters right, but the second film also has more supporting cast members. That means the core cast is featured less, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. Most importantly, the CGI Scooby-Doo is perfectly acceptable, even if Scooby looks better in the first film.
These live-action films are not really true to the cartoon series. The writers of the movies tried to reinvent the series, which is something that should never be done with a classic. As a whole, these are some decent family entertainment flicks that kids will enjoy, though the sequel will have parents waxing nostalgia quite a bit.
This set contains both the Blu-ray and standard DVD version of this film. The video on the Blu-ray disc is presented in 1080p/AVC/MPEG-4 at the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs of course. This transfer is okay. All of the images and colors look bright and vibrant, except with the CGI stuff. Those images look fake in high-definition.
The audio included on the Scooby-Doo Blu-ray disc is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. The audio included on the Scooby-Doo 2 Blu-ray disc is available in either English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Surround sound or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. Both discs feature dialogue and music that come out loud and clear. No major problems here unlike the video quality.
Extras for Scooby-Doo
Audio Commentary – There are two full-length commentaries. One is with Raja Gosnell (director), James Gunn (screenwriter), Charles Roven (producer), and Richard Suckle (producer). The other is with the main cast members, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, and Rowan Atikinson. Both are fairly informative, but there are long gaps of silence so not as entertaining as you would have liked.
“Unmasking the Mystery” Featurette – This runs 22 minutes and it’s the standard “making of” featurette. The usual fluffy interviews with cast and crew. But the history of Scooby-Doo is also examined briefly as well.
“Scary Places” Featurette – This runs 4 1/2 minutes and it’s a behind-the-scenes look at Bill Boes’ production design for the movie.
“The Mystery Van” Featurette – This runs 1 minute and Bill Boes talks about the design and creation of the movie’s Mystery Machine.
“Daphne Fight Scene” Featurette – This runs 2 1/2 minutes and in it stunt coordinator, Guy Norris, talks about the fight choreography involved in Daphne’s fight with a lucha libre wrestler.
“Rain on the Set” Featurette – This runs 1 1/2 minutes and various cast and crew members talk about how the location shoot in Queensland was filled with many rainy days.
Deleted Scenes – There are 13 minutes worth of scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the film.
Music Video – There is a music video for “The Land of a Million Drums” by Outkast.
Extras for Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
“Scooby-Doo’s Triple Threat” Featurette – This runs 10 minutes and Bill Boes talks all about his set designs, the stunts coordinated by J.J. Markaro, and the special effects designed by Peter Crossman.
“True Ghoul Hollywood Stories” Featurette – This runs 6 minutes and it’s a mockumentary on the Cotton Candy Glob, Redbeard’s Ghost, the Ozark Witch, and the actors who portray them.
“Scooby-Doo is The Dancing Dog” Featurette – This runs 5 1/2 minutes and it takes a look at the special effects used in Scooby’s disco dancing scenes.
Deleted Scenes – There are 7 minutes worth of scenes that didn’t make the final cut of this film.
Music Videos – There are two music videos. One for “Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Again)” by Big Brovaz and another for “Don’t Wanna Think About You” by Simple Plan.
If you loved the Saturday Morning Scooby-Doo cartoons, these live-action films probably won’t be for you. They are not completely horrible, but they do try to reinvent a classic that doesn’t need reinventing. The Blu-ray video and audio quality for these films aren’t the best ever due to the lackluster CGI effects. The extras can also be found on the standard definition releases of these films. So there isn’t much of upgrade going from DVD to Blu-ray, I’m afraid.
Warner Home Video presents Scooby-Doo 1 & 2 Collection. Directed by Raja Gosnell. Written by James Gunn (screenplay); William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (characters). Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini. Running time: 86 minutes (Scooby-Doo); 93 minutes (Scooby-Doo 2). Rated PG. Released on Blu-ray: November 9, 2010.
Tags: hanna-barbera, James Gunn, Matthew Lillard, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Scooby-Doo