I saw this Scooby Doo film a while ago, but I have to admit that it was a mixed bag. That’s why writing about it was so difficult as I had a bit of writer’s block. It wasn’t one of the worst Scooby Doo films, but at the same time, it was nowhere near the top. It just lacked a certain depth to it, which made the film feel really…fillery. All of the films are mostly stand alone stories so it’s hard to call one filler, but this one just went by so quickly.
The gang is having fun when Velma’s lawyer tells them to head to a mansion because it is now hers. The heroes don’t really take this seriously and Velma doesn’t even want to go, but someone blows up the Mystery Van. This is now very personal for the heroes so they head to the building to find out what monster resides inside. It must be a guy in a mask right?……let’s hope so! The danger is very real here and there are some actual fatalities.
This film used an interesting technique as we would get a flurry of sound effects as the film would fast forward through some scenes. It was fun the first few times, but I got tired of it by the end. Most jokes lose their humorous edge once they are overused and this was no exception. I’m hoping that this does not make a return in future films.
One new aspect that was pretty cool was the clips of the past adventures. They do serve a purpose so it seems like it’ll be a one time thing, but it would be fun to remember the good ole days. The animation was also pretty good back then and it holds up well. Does it beat the current animation? In some ways it certainly does, but the animation in this film isn’t bad. Everyone looks as they should and their designs are pretty modern. The colors are vibrant and I have no qualms with it. Again, the animation just back then seemed to have some more depth to it.
I liked the car subplot with Fred and he definitely continues to prove why he is my favorite member of the mystery gang. Unfortunately, they do overdo it at times when showing how close he is to his van. Beyond that, I liked his portrayal here and he doesn’t back down from a fight except for when he does. Scooby and Shaggy still haven’t attained any real character development, but they’re decent as far as comic relief goes. I don’t buy the way that they lost their appetite and it will stretch your imagination. Daphne’s trick is even more of a stretch to be honest. She looks decent, but definitely not very good. Velma probably looks the worst as she is easily hypnotized and led astray. This now makes the second time where she has been the big villain and I’m sure that it may have happened even more if we count the TV shows. After all her tough talk about not liking the Franken legend…she didn’t do a good job of resisting.
The writing has definitely become pretty good in the Scooby Doo series as the writers are having more fun with it. A classic example of this is when Velma is telling the heroes their backstory, but they just ignore her and look it up on Wikipedia. The heroes are modernized and they aren’t afraid to show it! It may seem a little mean, but the heroes love to mess with each other nowadays. Again, they’ve kept up with the times, for better or worse. There are many other examples that you will find throughout the film so I give the writing a passing grade.
I must give major credit to the film for its opening as well. Not the opening scene, but the opening credits. The film actually takes itself seriously here and the theme wouldn’t be out of place in an Alien or Terminator film. The horror vibe really gets you in the mood for the film and it’s easily the best opening credits theme for a Scooby Doo film. It would probably rank up there as one of my favorite intros of all time as well. Specifically for the theme as it really makes the intro. The images are decent and fit the tone, but the music deserves all of the credit.
You also have to appreciate the fact that the stakes are a lot higher here than normal. There’s actually a scene where you can argue that a lot of people actually died. The heroes are on a train and the villain starts to blow up the cars and send them crashing into the abyss. He does this to about 2-4 cars before the Mystery Gang decides to uncouple the links to save the first one. They quickly push all of the passengers into the first car. What you need to recognize is the fact that there was a passenger in every single car. This makes it extremely unlikely that the other cars had nobody in it..meaning that this film probably had the largest death count in any Scooby Doo film. (At least in the present setting. Past stories within the film don’t count) I felt bad for the innocent bystanders though and hopefully they found a parachute in time.
So, the film certainly had its pros. At the same time, the main plot wasn’t all that engaging. The monster is actually pretty generic and I’ll never fully buy into Velma’s big plot twist about her last name. We got a lot of backstory for her and this development will certainly change the way that we look at her, but it seems to just be there to push the film along. They almost should have brought in a new character so this twist could have happened to him/her instead. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if this is ever mentioned again. (Not that it necessarily needs too)
I wouldn’t have minded the town appearing a little more though as that part was a little more interesting. The people were fairly unreasonable though and a little exaggerated, but they could have been nice if given the chance. If not for Shaggy and Scooby being full for a change, they had nearly become friends with the townsfolk. Seeing as how Fred was traumatized, playing nice with the people for a while was in their best interest.
Overall, This Scooby Doo film was decent. It’s not going to be remembered as one of the all time greats, but the film experimented with several new techniques and it’ll be interesting to see if they decide to keep any of them. I hope we get another really cool intro and Fred’s side plot of being traumatized was a lot of fun. If the van were to get blown up in every film as a new running gag, that could work. Of course, Fred would need to care less and less each time to really make the gag work. I recommend this to Scooby Doo fans who have enjoyed the previous films and to anyone who wants to watch a funny film. As a comedy with a little adventure in it, this still holds up. Scooby Doo will always adhere to a certain level of quality and it’s a franchise that you can trust through the years. (At least in animated land. It lost its way for a while with the puppets and musicals, but I think it’s back on track) I’m certainly looking forward to their next film as we get to see what an outer space mystery will be like. Pizza is on the cover and that is a terrific sign!