Following the numerous adventures they have previously shared, Scooby Doo and the gang team up with Blue Falcon to stop evil villain Dick Dastardly, from unleashing a supernatural force. Along the way, they learn not only how important friendship is, but how to move on from the past, as well. Based on the 1969 Hanna-Barbera cartoon series.
Making an updated version of Scooby Doo is no easy task. For one thing, the classic show, which has formed into several spinoff series and films over the years, has always maintained a sense of mystery and intrigue to it, along with a strong sense of humor from its characters. And though this movie does not fully capture the heart of the original series, it is still enjoyable, to a certain extent.
The best thing this animated adventure has going for it is its engaging storyline that, while more of a modern take on the show, is creative enough to keep most audiences invested. Though many characters are not fully fleshed out and function more as plot devices than having any actual value to the main story, the themes that it touches on, along with the decent amount of humor allow it to be a decent addition to the franchise, if not in the top tier of it.
The story centers more on Shaggy and Scooby Doo, instead of the entire gang of Mystery Inc., which will most likely be an issue that hardcore fans have here, but the film is thankfully able to use their friendship to explore its messages of family, moving on from the past, and responsibility. Most of the technical aspects are well done, as the voice actors are relatively close to the original cast, along with Frank Welker reprising his role from the original 1969 show and the 3D animation, though underdeveloped in certain scenes, is really beautiful to look at. Combined with some creative action sequences and a good score, one would assume the end result is nothing but the best.
Unfortunately, the film is not so focused on telling a original narrative, instead filling that space with extra side characters and no backstory for the main protagonists that was promised in the marketing. Sure, the first twenty minutes goes over how the Mystery Inc. team met each other, but it immediately jumps over their adventures together after that, only showing the side effects that the years have brought them.
On one hand, director Tony Cervone (who does not have a ton of experience in theatrical animated features) may be trying to honor the impact that the original cartoon has on fans, similar to the live action The Lion King’s approach in rehashing its already beloved material that fans can revisit in previous works. On the contrary, it does not do the hard work of including developed characters or staying faithful to the classic show, despite some occasional moments. It tries to be as exciting as an animated family adventure can be, but other films like The Peanuts Movie have shown that old properties are perfectly capable of standing on their own, rather than being used to force an entirely new vision.
The new addition of Blue Falcon and the other Dynomutt characters are certainly entertaining, but take away from the main focus of the film. Initially this was supposed to be a Scooby-Doo origin movie, but it quickly turns into another team up story we have seen multiple times. As for the villain, Dick Dastardly’s plan is pretty generic, in terms of the overall franchise. Though there is some genuine meaning behind it, viewers will be able to see his motivation and plan coming from far away. The timeline is also pretty confusing, as the story never firmly establishes when the movie is taking place.
It is not that this movie is not enjoyable, as one can see the potential that it had to tell a good origin story for these characters. The actual plot itself was interesting enough, thanks to the team up adventure that Shaggy and Scooby-Doo go on with Blue Falcon. Audiences will certainly be wondering how things will unfold for them, along with the rest of Mystery Inc.. It might not hold viewers attention as much on rewatch, but the main storyline along with the decent humor and emotion will be just enough for some people. But that’s just it. The film has everything it needs to make a great origin sory with all the classic elements of terror and mystery that fans have come to expect over the years.
This version however, is so focused on what happens in the next phase for these characters, that they try to rush things along, expecting that audiences have already seen the story they were promised elsewhere. Because of that, it tries harder to modernize the script, in an attempt to appeal to a new generation of fans, rather than deliver the classic traits of intrigue and supernatural terror that fans love it for. There is none of that present here, until the ending, and even then, the horror and mystery elements of the classic show are severely under utilized.
There is a reason why the Scooby-Doo franchise has been remembered for the last fifty-one years, but until studios start taking risks and being creative, instead of trying to appeal to multiple demographics in an attempt to be financially profitable, nothing is going to change for anybody.
Though Scoob! has some entertainment value to it, including an engaging storyline, decent humor, and beautiful animation, it tries to force a modernized narrative and plans for a shared universe in an attempt to satisfy a new generation of audiences. While there are some occasional moments of creativity, it rarely stays faithful to the classic show and does not focus on the main characters this movie was supposed to be for.
Along with the confusing timeline, the forced side characters and lack of the classic traits that fans have come to know them for hurts the potential the film was given. As a result, it leaves this case wide open, with much to be desired in the end, as fans continue to wait for the origin story they had hoped for.
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