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Two years after a clash of egos forced Mystery Inc. to close, 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. Worried that his theme park might truly be haunted, Spooky Island owner Emile Mondavarious tries to reunite those notoriously meddling detectives to solve the mystery before his supernatural secret scares away the college crowds. Can the gang overcome their personal differences and forget everything they think they know about fake ghouls and phony creatures to crack the case, save themselves and possibly the world. Ruh- roh!
For more about Scooby-Doo and the Scooby-Doo Blu-ray release, see Scooby-Doo Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on April 29, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Rowan Atkinson, Isla Fisher
Director: Raja Gosnell
» See full cast & crew
Scooby-Doo Blu-ray Review
The live-action version of a beloved cartoon series is Scooby-licious on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, April 29, 2009
The "Scooby-Doo" animated series was a favorite of mine throughout my childhood and still holds a nostalgic place in my heart. I can remember getting up each morning and eating cereal in front of the television as the gang solved one ghostly mystery after another. It just seemed like a good way to start my day and made the trip to school that much more bearable. Having seen the animated series now that I'm an adult, I can still understand the appeal, though the formulaic plotline of each episode can get a bit redundant. Now that you're aware of my fondness for the original series, you can probably understand why this is the first time I've sat down to watch the live-action film since it was originally released back in 2002. Hollywood has a bad reputation for taking beloved television series, and turning them into shameless films that hardly resemble the original. Scooby-Doo is a film that manages to stay true to the source, while still lacking the charm of the original series. It's not as bad as the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard atrocity, but also not as faithful as the recent Get Smart film adaptation.
As the film opens, the members of Mystery Inc. are in hot pursuit of a ghostly villain they've been investigating. The high-profile case soon comes to a successful close and Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) takes the opportunity to hog the glory for himself. This doesn't sit well with Thelma (Linda Cardellini) and Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), and the team decides to disband. Flash forward two years and the original gang is individually summoned to investigate some strange occurences at a spring break destination known as Spooky Island. The owner of the island's theme park (Rowan Atkinson)is worried about the odd behavior showing up in visitors to his theme park, and hopes the Mystery Inc. detectives can put aside their differences to help him determine the source of these peculiar happenings. Will Shaggy (Mathew Lillard), Scooby and the rest of their Mystery Inc. friends reunite to solve the mystery before it's too late?
If you're familiar with the cartoon series, that plot synopsis sounds exactly as we would expect from a Scooby-Doo motion picture, and in many regards, it does a good job of retaining the feeling of the original show. There's a nice mix of comedy interspersed with scenes of ghosts and monsters, which is exactly what drew me to the animated series in the first place. On top of that, there are enough twists and turns to keep the little ones entertained through the extent of the feature and even children with ADD will find their eyes glued to the screen with the bright, loud, and imaginative set design.
Now for the not-so-good part (I'm sure you all knew this was coming). There are some truly strange choices in the plot and while I can appreciate the need to extend the runtime to 90 minutes, I don't like some of the characterization in the film. For instance, Fred's actions in the first 5 minutes of the film make him unlikeable throughout the majority of the feature and the idea that the gang can't get along seems to contradict the feel of the animated series. The worst part of the film, is the choice for the villain, which isn't revealed until the final 10 minutes of the feature. I can't begin to fathom why the writers went that route, and it really soured my opinion of the film as a whole.
The acting is what you'd expect from a film of this nature. I don't feel any of the actors in this film have shown much promise up until now and Scooby-Doo is not the type of film that's going to further your career in Hollywood. I'm sure the casting director was trying to fill the movie with actors that would appeal to the target market of the film (which is understandable), but these roles are something the actors could have sleepwalked through. Let's just say you won't be watching this film for the acting.
Lastly, I wanted to comment on something that bothered me, but is really just a personal rant. There's a scene in the film where the band Sugar Ray does a musical number and the lead singer (Mark McGrath) is an integral part of the sequence. I can appreciate the idea of incorporating a popular band, but it also has the effect of dating the movie. You'd think Hollywood would have learned after the scene with Vanilla Ice in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (which still kills that movie for me). Bottom line, one-hit-wonder bands will not remain popular and if you put them in your film, that film will become a joke right along with the failing band.
Scooby-Doo Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p and utilizing the VC-1 codec (with an average bitrate around 20Mbps), Scooby-Doo looks surprisingly good on Blu-ray. Considering the film was released to Blu-ray at the same time as the HD-DVD version, I was expecting a bitrate-starved transfer with unimpressive detail. Instead, we have a sharp presentation, with excellent blacks and a bold color scheme. Close-ups reveal the greatest amount of detail, with even the finest facial textures showing through. Some long shots don't look quite as good, but that appeared to be the only area of deficiency in the transfer.
One drawback to watching a film like this in 1080p, is the revealing nature of high-defintion with badly incorporated CGI. The digitally-rendered Scooby looks far from realistic and the film's heavy reliance on computer effects gives the production a fake feel. This won't be an issue for younger viewers, but may be distracting to some adults.
Scooby-Doo Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The audio appears to be the one component negatively impacted by the technical limitations of porting an HD-DVD release to Blu-ray. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, the track is reasonably proficient in portraying the zany onscreen action, but I couldn't help feeling the music and effects were somewhat muted. For example, go to the 1:02 minute mark of the film, where the Scooby-Doo crew discuss their plan of action. You can hear the faint sound of waves in the background, but the ocean effects lack the clarity I've come to expect from ambient sounds on a lossless track. Immediately after that scene, there's a cave scene with chanting and music. The audio during that five minute sequence was well-defined, but still lacked the depth we would have experienced had this been a lossless track. I'll readily acknowledge there are some dialogue-driven films that won't demonstrate a large improvement with a lossless track, but Scooby-Doo is the type of recent feature that would have come alive if it were given the breathing room of less compression.
Scooby-Doo Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The collection of supplemental features on the disc is reasonable, but far from comprehensive.
Unmasking the Mystery (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 22:10 min): This behind-the-scenes featurette includes interviews with the filmmakers and actors, as well as footage from the production of the film. It's not all that entertaining, but it may help you better appreciate what the filmmakers were going for in their effort to stay true to the cartoon.
Scary Places(480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 4:22 min): We are given a tour of the cave set, and shown the design from storyboard to actual construction.
The Mystery Van(480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 1:02 min): The production designer shows us several designs for the Mystery Machine van, and Mathew Lillard gives a brief tour of the final van used for the film.
Daphne Fight Scene(480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 2:28 min): We're given a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the choreography of the fight sequence between Sarah Michelle Gellar and the wrestler at the end of the film.
Rain on the Set(480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 1:18 min): Apparently the crew underwent a day of rainy weather, and production came to a halt until it let up. Don't waste your time.
Additional Scenes (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 13:32 min): The best part of this feature is the alternate opening, which I like better than the one used for the film (mostly because it features the original cartoon). Otherwise, there's a short collection of scenes that didn't make it into the film for one reason or another.
Lastly, we have standard definition trailers for the film, and a music video for "The Land of a Million Drums" by Outkast.
Scooby-Doo Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Scooby-Doo is a film that understands it's target market and largely succeeds at filling the demands of that market. There's plenty of over-the-top hijinks throughout the film and the scary elements are effectively overshadowed by comedy to ensure even the youngest of viewers won't have nightmares. Most adults will only sit down to watch Scooby-Doo if they are watching it with their kids; but if you find yourself in that situation, you can rest assured you'll still be sufficiently entertained. The acting is flat, the sets are laughable, the CGI is merely passable and the plot appears to have been written over the course of a weekend; but at least the Blu-ray presentation is decent, and most young viewers won't be concerned with hang-ups like lossless audio. If you have children, this is highly recommended; but if not, I wouldn't even recommend a rental.
Scooby-Doo: Other Editions
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Scooby-Doo Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Scooby-Doo Blu-ray Double Feature Announced - August 17, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced that on November 9, it will release a "family double feature", comprised of two live action Scooby-Doo movies: Scooby-Doo/Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. This is the first time Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed will be available ...
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