Category Archives: Scooby-Doo

DTV Wonders: Ultra Instinct Shaggy

This is actually called Scooby-Doo: Legend of the Phantosaur, but the scene where Shaggy beats up a biker gang is what everyone writes about.  It has become a huge source of memes, and now is the time to decide if the film is actually good or just an interesting scene.

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The opening credits are in a very abstract style, and I like this in spite of Velma and Fred’s weird hair. It helps to stick out from the hordes of Scooby-Doo films.  Some more good news is it has the same cast as the best series, “Mystery Incorporated.”

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The film plot starts with Shaggy violating the laws of physics by screaming for several days in a row, and the doctor is told why.  The gang explains it was only a normal day for them, chasing ghosts. The doctor is skeptical (defeating the Evil Entity did not make the news after all), and he says Shaggy has a rare condition, overactive fear stimuli.  He forbids Shaggy from entering the mystery machine.  Already he is my main suspect. Being good friends they go to “La Serena: The Least Haunted place in America.” I love this reference to Crystal Cove. They head there in the new “The Mustard Machine.”

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They stay with the eccentric Mr. Hubley, who jokes about dressing as a ghost to scare the locals off to buy their land. Safe to say he is the red herring. When getting food Scooby runs into the Phantosaur.

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I find the design lacking, but the atmosphere is silent, which helps the scary mood. Fred, Daphne, and Velma meet some other suspects/characters. like professor Svankmejer.

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Based on her design, which is not obviously evil, but somewhat stuck up looking I guess she is the villain. They also meet the worst character in the film, Winsor. Winsor looks like a male clone of Velma, and they fall in lust, and every scene with them is just slow.  Then the Phantosaur attacks destroying equipment and chasing everyone. We then get a much more intense chase scene than usual, no song and hardly any talking. Shaggy goes unconscious and Scooby carries him away long enough for Fred to ram the dinosaur with The Mustard Machine.  Hubley explains the legend of the Phantosaur. Native Americans made a curse on attacking Europeans by reviving an ancient monster (planing on a bear). It was a large sharptooth who instead drove out the natives and Europeans.

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Hubley then hypnotizes Shaggy into being fearless when he hears the word “bad.” He also accidentally hypnotizes himself into forgetting his own word, and only Scooby is even trying to find out the word.  This plot is dumb, but the mood is not that serious anyway, and it does set up the good stuff only one third into the run time.  Shaggy and Scooby go to an all you can eat diner and make the owner consider bankruptcy.

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Daphne finds off dinosaur tracks, and that is character re-railment.  In the first series Daphne’s main contribution is she was the most observant and best clue finder. It was not until “Mystery Incorporated she got that niche back.  Back with Shaggy he is told “bad” and become the fearless fighter who wipes out a biker gang in a fight.  The great part is the reaction from Scooby and all the locks and wrestling moves Shaggy uses. Then the leader, Tex, comes.

 

While surrounded by his beaten companions Tex challenges Shaggy to a friendly motorcycle race on Dead man’s peak, dead man’s tray, dead man’s bluff, dead man’s curve, and dead man’s avenue.  Shaggy accepts and proudly admits it will be his first ever motorcycle ride.  Tex is enthusiastic about Shaggy’s craziness and promises not to beat him too badly bringing back normal Shaggy.

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Fred and Daphne see two people from a mining company who are obvious red herrings.  They think it is solved except Fred “still hasn’t caught anyone in a net yet.”  Velma is too distracted by Winsor to be of any help.

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Before the motorcycle race Tex brings “other guy” back, and Ultra Instinct Shaggy has a small lead until Tex nearly falls to his death and Shaggy saves him.

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This is where it becomes clear that “Other Guy” is still Shaggy just missing the fear. He is still the same selfless guy, but now more heroic.  The Phantosaur attacks and Shaggy thinks “bad…” meaning Scooby has to save him. The bikers and the rest of Mystery Inc. flood out the mining inc guys and the Phantosaur’s circuits are fried.  The two are arrested and Daphne points out that was solved earlier than usual, as they are only at the 53 minute mark. They go back to Hubley’s home where the holograph technology is gone, and they find velociraptor claw marks and footprints. Then they find…

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Again this is lacking. Their introduction is too quickly paced for any sense of dread, and their animation is stiff. Granted it then gets good with slow, dreadful action and good sounds, but on a re-watch this is weird.  The dinosaurs are overweight college students who are trying to eat people.  They even eat a cake version of Scooby and Shaggy that was quickly made.  The raptors run outside where things are worse (except for the viewers).

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Now this is great. The dinosaur has fire breath, people are in terror, the plot is fast enough for action, but slow enough for the atmosphere.  The design is great.  The raptors get more drool.  Then Tex declares “If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s ghost dinosaurs.” The gang tries scaring them off until they eventually leave. They go to the professor who is evacuating, and her students have already left.  Shaggy notices all the cars are still there even though the grad students supposedly just left.  Fred makes a successful trap with flame throwers and Professor and Winsor run away. It was a hologram with heated air.

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The professor found a preserved Allosaurus in the quartz and they needed to remove the town to get it out without anyone else noticing.  The entire crew of students was in on it.  They needed it out secretly and it was under public ground. It was the source of the Phantosaur myth, and they were inspired by the other fake Phantosaur. They use the explanation music from Mystery Incorporated, which I love. They had charges to blow the ground off, but they then go of due to a mistake Daphne makes meaning the cave they are all in is about to be mush.  Thankfully professor says “bad” bringing a new leader to action.

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In the very first episode of Scooby-Doo it was shown that Shaggy is a gymnast champion, and here he is jumping everywhere to get them to safety. He is doing all the work getting all seven out, and this is great. He is then one jump from getting out and getting help until Daphne says “not bad.” Scooby realizes the word but his impediment means he cannot say it or successfully communicate it. Shaggy is now panicking as the cave collapses, but Fred tells him everything Other Guy did is something he can do.  Normal Shaggy goes for it in a surprisingly slow and tense scene. He has to jump, climb, and jump on moving rocks.

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Peter Jackson, you plagiarist.

Shaggy makes the jump and finds Tex. He has ropes to get everyone out. He was there as he knew Shaggy could get out and his men camped at the only exit.

IS this good? In spite of its problems, yes. Like my last review it needed something that The Land Before Time sequels did so well, integrate different elements at the end for unity of plot.  This has really bad unity of plot with two different dinosaur plots and neither are very connected to awesome Shaggy. The pace is to fast at times for the film’s tone and Winsor is terrible bringing down Velma too.

Yet this is the second best Scooby-Doo movie.  Fred and Daphne are great in their limited role. It is nice seeing Scooby be so brave and smart, which are expected for a Mystery Incorporated type show. Shaggy is awesome and never disappointing. While the villains were too obvious Tex was great along with the other side characters like Hubley’s humor and the diner owner’s jokes.  The tone was refreshingly serious, and I like the moral. If you did something great then you can repeat it or something similar.  I recommend watching this.

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Watching “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo” for the first time

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A movie called Scooby-Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost just came out to be the finale to a shoe from 1985 that was ended after its first season with a cliffhanger ending, and I will review all thirteen episodes.  I have never seen it before, but it was not typical Scooby-Doo.  It had multi episode storylines, which has only been done by Mystery Incorporated, my favorite of the franchise, but I never heard it was good.

Episode 1

The plot is that Scrappy, Scooby, Shaggy, and Daphne are in a plane called “The mystery flying machine.”  I am disappointed it is not green with flowers like all the objects in Cyber Chase.  They crash onto a town where the town folks immediately want them gone (later revealed to be because they are werewolves). They meet a young con artist named Flim-Flam. He has magic bottles that basically get them out of every situation.  Two ghosts need a person from the living to open a chest to unleash 13 ghosts/demons (they go back and forth). Scooby and Shaggy let them out for stupid and unfunny reasons and it ends with the gang going to track them down and the other two ghosts tagging along.

Episode one is not good.  It is confusing, Daphne’s redesign is distracting, and Flim-Flam is a Mary Sue.  I hope episode 2 is better. At least some of the jokes work.

Episode 2

The episode is about stooping a warlock who is taking over a magic kingdom.  This time the tone is considerably less serious, and that works in the episode’s favor.

The tone is wacky and breaks the fourth wall a few times. At first it is just bad humor, but the second half of the episode is then pretty entertaining, and I would have liked it at ten years old.  The music and animation are also better. The only problem is Flim-Flam somehow got even more annoying. Hopefully later episodes are like this.

 

 

 

DTV Wonders: Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghosts

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It is well accepted that the first four Scooby-Doo DTV films are mostly the best, and I agree with that.  The Scooby-Doo format works best as a twenty minute episode, and many of the films feel too long, but these four feel like movies and are entertaining all the way through.   The viewers near universally call Zombie Island the best, this one the second best, and Alien Invaders and Cyber Chase are debated as third and fourth best.  Sadly I found this underwhelming.  It is still a good film that I recommend to Scooby fans, but not as much as the other three.  The main reason it is underwhelming is it uses the same basic subversions Zombie Island used making it feel like the inferior version.  Still it is entertaining and I am happy to review it positively.

I am sure part of my problems are that I have incredibly little nostalgia for it.  I saw it at school supply stores where I saw the last twenty minutes, and another time I saw the first twenty minutes (it is sixty-six minutes long), and not until I was in college did I see it all the way through.

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It starts like Zombie Island with Mystery Inc. trying to catch a villain.  This time it is in a prehistoric museum, and that makes for some good atmosphere.  The two villains are tripped by a writer, Ben Ravencroft, who then captures them.  Velma is a big fan of his horror novels and seems to have a crush on him.   Ben offers to take them to his home in New England, Oak Haven.  They arrive to discover that it is now tourist based and supposedly haunted by the ghost of Ben’s ancestor, Sarah Ravencroft.

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Ben shows everyone a picture of Sarah and says she was a wonderful healer, which made the Puritans think she was a witch, and they executed her.  If she was executed that probably means she actually was in the middle of a family feud.  He insists she was actually a Wiccan, a good spell user…  What are the writers talking about?  The term “Wiccan” was not sued until the 1900s.  Also it is a form of paganism, not a magic user who uses good magic.

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They fit the term Wiccan.

It is also constantly said to be a bloodline, but that is false.  It is a religion.  I have seen many episodes and movies where the writers clearly know about the supernatural creatures used like the episode of Mystery Incorporated episode, “Aliens Among Us”,  which makes this mistake worse.  This is just bad.  Thankfully it is some really bad writing, but it is surrounded by some good scenes.  There is some filler where Scooby and Shaggy eat at a restaurant.  It does not go anywhere, but it is really funny.

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The plot that actually emerges is not important.  Oak Haven makes a Scooby-Doo hoax to bring in tourists by making a ghost of Sarah Ravencroft.  Ben is angry, Velma makes a plan after solving the mystery, and the mayor is the mastermind.  The only part of real significance is they meet the Hex Girls, a Goth rock band.

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They were big ensemble dark horses and reappeared in other media like two episodes of Mystery Incorporated and The Legend of the Vampire.  They are a red herring, and their leader, Thorn, wishes the others “bad dreams.”  That one line had my brother one hundred percent convinced they were the villains.  Also, Thorn is “1/16 Wiccan on my mother’s side.”  Again, Wiccan is a religion, not a bloodline.  If you are 1/16 Wiccan, then I am 1/2 Catholic and 1/2 Baptist.  Also by this movie’s logic having the tiniest amount of magic blood means you are able to do magic as well as anyone else, which I would think would mean most people could do it.

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The plot everyone actually remembers starts in the last twenty minutes when Velma finds the book that Ben said would prove Sarah was innocent.  Instead it is a spell book, which Ben takes and reveals he is a “warlock” due to being the descendant of a witch and plans to bring Sarah back to conqueror the world.  He reveals Sarah was trapped in the book by the Wiccans… Wiccans did not exist then!  If you use the current definition on that time then a witch is a Wiccan.  This word usage is really bad.  He uses the book to give himself magical powers and gives himself a mild make over.

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Should have kept the glasses

The whole opening 3/4 of the film are really not important except setting up the ending and introducing the audience to Ben.   He has been called a Stephen King expy, but I think he is more of an antithesis to Nathaniel Hawthorne.  They were both from a Puritan New England village and had an evil ancestor, Sarah Ravencroft and John Hathorne.  While Ben wants to be evil and powerful like his ancestor, wants her evilness, and always said she was good, Hawthorne heavily criticized his ancestor and was worried he would end up like him due to their shared genetics.

Back to the best parts of the film, and these are good.  I know I have been harsh on it so far, but the climax makes the film worth it.  It has a lot of stupid stuff in it, but it is awesomely stupid.  Ben spends a horde of time explaining his very detailed plan with hordes of things that could go wrong; for example, Mystery Inc. could just snatch the book away while he is monologueing.  Instead he uses the book’s magic to give himself super strength, fix his eyes, imprison a few townsmen (not important), tie up the Hex Girls (one is important), and give himself the ability to shoot lasers.  The magic also resembles the life force entering the zombies in Zombie Island.  This mages sense as the cat god and Sarah probably use the same source.

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The gang take the book back, and make a big mistake.  They do not use that time to start ripping pages up, and Ben takes it back summoning Sarah.  He then gets to the problem of summoning a greater evil.  Ben wants to rule the world and thinks Sarah will have the virtue to obey her descendant who saved her.  Instead she is psychopathic, has no gratitude, wants no accomplice, and she wants to destroy everything.  Worse, only a pure heart can lock her back up meaning Ben is powerless, and Sarah imprisons him.  Stupidly she just leaves the book sitting there.  Her powers include summoning magical attacks and turning objects into monsters.  This includes trees, roots, pumpkins (picture above), and a turkey.

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Best character in the film.  The turkey makes an awesome climax even better.  Unfortunately the solving of the climax is lacking.  Velma deduces they just need Thorn to read the book to banish Sarah since she is 1/16 good magic or something, meaning she can cast the spell.  They then keep passing the book in a scene that Mystery Incorporated ripped off (and did better), and Thorn banishes Sarah, but in the meantime Sarah grabs Ben and imprisons him with her, and the book is destroyed.  Why did the good witches who imprisoned her four hundred years ago not destroy the book then?  It removes the chances she comes back and removes evil spells.  Then Thorn ruins the moment by calling herself a “Wiccan.”  After that there is some mop-up action with the only significance being that the Turkey is still around and huge.  Give him some spin-off shorts already.

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This movie has plenty of bad.  The early Scooby movies all gave the audiences real monsters.  Zombie Island put Mystery Inc. in the middle of a supernatural battle between opposing monsters with incredibly complex villains.  Alien Invaders had a twist on real monsters by having the real creatures be the heroes and battle the fake monsters with the fakes actually beating them.  Cyber-Chase had a simple Mystery Inc. vs real monsters, but there were so many and many were nostalgic threats, but here it is the most simple case of just using real monsters with many of the same elements from Zombie Island right down to the “friend” who brought them there betraying them.  It is a pale version.  Also it has two plots splitting time with different witches.

A common problem with DTV films is they have too many plots working making it feel like multiple episodes edited together, but this one has a major upside, the episodic stories are food and fun to watch.  I like watching them catch the fake witch and the real one.  I like watching Scooby and Shaggy eat a resteraunt dry and the cook being so exhausted.

There is still a lot to like in this film.  Ben is a poor man’s Lena, but he is very entertaining and quite complex.  Does he legitimately like the gang or is he just using them.  I think he really does like being around them.  The last twenty minutes are incredibly fun to watch, and the turkey is incredible.

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Do not eat him!  Thankfully he lived.

It is the least good of the four, but I still like it.  It may be a poor man’s Zombie Island, but Zombie Island is a great film and a worse version would still be good.  The film is an entertaining 66 minutes that lacks its predecessor’s drama and uniqueness, but it still has its humor and fun.

DTV Wonders: Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders

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This is the third Scooby-Doo Direct-to-video film, and like the early ones I watched it many times thanks to blockbuster.  The first four do stand out for a few reasons.  They normally make call backs to each other and have a darker tone with real monsters.

It opens with a reprise of the Star Trek theme, and it is surprisingly dull (the only one of the four with a dull opening).  The opening feels way longer than it is.  The most interesting thing about the beginning is Shaggy is driving The Mystery Machine.

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A spaceship thing chases them off the road, and The Mystery Machine is in need of repair.  Velma, Fred, and Daphne go to a town, while Shaggy and Scooby guard The Mystery Machine.  The two cowards are considerably braver here than usual being willing to be alone and do things later.  Apparently ghosts, cat creatures, and zombies have hardened them and eventually Shaggy will be beating up biker gangs (yes, that happens in a later movie).  They find a jackalope, and  it steals their only Scooby snack.  They acknowledge they are myths, and it is probably a fake made by a real estate scammer based on this franchise.  They chase it through a government fence and meet some aliens.

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The alien designs are very generic, but their brash demeaning attitude and the musical score makes up for that.  The chase scene is played with the original theme song, and it is a very good chase scene with plenty of Scooby-do humor, and they are back with the rest of Mystery Inc. in a diner.

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At the diner there are two employees who are red herrings with no real development and hardly any character.  They and red herring mechanic are not important.  They also meet Lester, who was supposedly abducted and is constantly saying the aliens are coming back to take over the world.  I like him.  He yells too much, as most conspiracy theorists are portrayed as doing, but he is also very kind, apologetic, and helpful, and his past warrants some shouting as he tries to save the planet.  Also it becomes clear that plenty of what he says is true and the false information comes from failing to deduce a Scooby-Doo hoax.  He talks about being in an alien lab, and then in a great piece the camera moves outside and nothing can be heard as Lester talks about being experimented on with everyone else looking terrified.  Everything is left open to the imagination.  In truth the villains (disguised as aliens) are experimenting on locals to scare them. They also smartly steal the cattle.  This forces businesses and people away.  Mystery Inc. sleeps in Lester’s house where they see his paintings are of the same ship they saw making them realize his words have some truth.  Lester tells them about the local scientists looking for alien life with signals and are funded by the government.  The town blames them for recent alien sightings.  Surprisingly Scooby and Shaggy happily sleep on the roof where everything is more dangerous and vulnerable to alien abductions.  In the past they would have slept under the table just where it is safe.  Then again the monsters always got inside, so they might as well enjoy it under the stars.S5.png

Predictably Shaggy and Scooby are abducted and being interrogated, and it is one of the best scenes of the film.  The music gives a dark and dangerous tone, despite their comedic whines of tasting bad.  Fortunately they are too kooky to torture and Scooby’s tale is not bound (the restraints were made for humans, and his tail frees them.  Unfortunately they are captured again and the scene just ends.  Apparently the fake aliens (a third was introduced) then put them in the desert to help scare away other people.

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They are awakened by love interests Crystal (Human) and Amber (dog).  They are wildlife photographers, and when Shaggy mentions the jackalope and aliens they want pictures.  They are actually aliens trying to find out what these other “aliens” are doing as revealed later.

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Shaggy even sings (in his head) about his love for her in “Oh Groovy.”  It fits him so well, and its images are funny like the ghost wondering why Shaggy just left Mystery Inc.  Shaggy and Scooby even try self improvement by combing hair and tucking in shirts.  They meet one of the villains and scientists looking for aliens, Max.  They are the only group with at least three members.  Besides Max they are Steve (Mark Hamill voices him and it is uncecognizable from most of his character voices) and Laura.  They need a suspiciously high amount of oil that does even work with their equipment and have mud all over their shoes despite working in a clean room.  With them Velma, Fred, and Daphne tour the facility.  They also say the government sent an investigative team (actually sent by them to keep people out).  After leaving Fred tries to get some suspicion on Lester for having Green paint, despite him being a painter.

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Show some gratitude Fred.

Figuring the mud came from the gorge they go there.  They find a cave and the same oil cans Max bought earlier.  Apparently the villains really need to invest in trash cans or something to make the place less obvious. Put some alien technology around so visitors think aliens are mining.  Surprisingly they also find a gold mine.

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In the meantime the lovebirds look for the aliens and are chased away by two fake government agents telling them to leave.  Shaggy and Scooby also notice that Crystal’s camera is extremely high tech. Crystal insists on going back claiming she is a government agent along with Amber. They find a cave and Scooby impersonates a rattle snake to chase away the guards.  They also find the gold.  This leads to the three aliens chasing all seven of the eight main heroes (minus Lester) and the guards join in revealing they work for them  (should have given them alien costumes too to help the charade).  For the chase scene “The Aliens are Here” is played.  The chase songs are normally loud and exciting, but this one is different. It is low, soft, and dark.  This is really good.  It ends with Velma, Daphne, and Fred caught in a net and the guards chasing the couples off a cliff. The guards chase and Velma calls one alien “Steve.”

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Not much a mystery, and thankfully it is not the real ending twist.  They are doing it for the gold and they need to smuggle it out of government property.  Immediately after explaining Steve says they are about to kill them.  Then it cuts to the guards being ready to throw Shaggy, Scooby, Crystal, and Amber off a huge ravine.  These villains are really murderous.  Supposedly this is more light than the other three early DTV Scooby movies, but with murderous villains like this, a good man losing his mind, a basic plot that has likely been done successfully (without fake monsters), and all the plot twists later I think this is besides Zombie Island the darkest one.

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Finally, I got to the most memorable scene.  When Scooby and Shaggy try to scare off the guards by using air punches Amber and Crystal reveal themselves to the guards as aliens and chase them away.  I remembered almost everything from over a decade ago, the slow walk of the guards, Amber, and Crystal looking at each other with concern, and the big drop behind them.  Granted I remembered it happening with thirty, not seventeen, minutes left, and I was one hundred percent sure it took place in daylight outside the cave, so I misremembered some details.  There is some foreshadowing like how all the alien videos of Earth are from the 1960s, so Crystal looks like she is from them and her high tech camera.  What really makes it work is how it changes the tropes of the darker Scooby films.  Instead of a real monster fighting Mystery Inc. like in the last two and Cyber Chase, a real monster is saving them.  It is no where near the twist of Zombie Island, but it is quite the scene.

They change back and the guards’ claims of aliens distract the other three letting Fred sneak out of the net.  The guards decide it must be a trick and quickly grab Shaggy and Scooby this time.  Crystal and Amber change back and not knowing who they are Scooby and Shaggy hide from the aliens.  The aliens also have great strength and take out all three muscular enemies leaving only Steve and Laura, but Steve realizes something,  Captured aliens are more valuable than the gold.  They use a mining vehicle to subdue them both since Crystal it turns out is very clumsy and trip prone, and they brought no high tech easily concealable weaponry.

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Still more threatening than the aliens from Signs.  I think this is further commentary on darker Scooby-Doo.  Humans with machines good enough to fake being monsters can defeat real monsters arguably making them more dangerous and better villains.  Crystal begs Shaggy for help making them realize who they are and using another vehicle they save them and all five villains are captured.  I think the only way for Steve to get the aliens out was to kill them since I doubt he could rely on ropes since Amber bent steel.  crystal and Amber reveal they have to go back to space and were sent to investigate alien sightings.

Of the four early installments I kept hearing this is the worst, and I had low hopes watching for the first time since I was around seven, but I had a great time watching it.  As obvious and simple as they are I think the villains are real good.  It can be so predictable at times (who the villains are), but also shocking and surprising.  The biggest problem is the quality is not consistent.  The chases, alien reveal, and Lester’s scenes are great, yet plenty of the movie is too slow giving it the opposite problems of cyber Chase.  It is very memorable and Scooby fans should give it a watch.

DTV Wonders: Scooby-Doo in Arabian Knights

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Scooby-Doo as a franchise has been around since 1969 menaing it will turn 50 next year, and this film nearly killed it at age 25 in 1994.  A Pup Named Scooby-Doo ended in 1991 and no new Scooby-doo episodes were made until 2002 due to the franchise being saved in 1998 by Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.  Now as a fan of the franchise I had to check out what nearly killed it.

It starts with Scooby-Doo and Shaggy having a magic carpet taxi ride.  The animation is changed to better match the frame story, but that looks distractedly odd.  To make it worse no one’s mouth closes all the way, until they do in the frame stories.

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They arrive and get a job as a royal food tester.  They then eat everything, realize they are professional poison checkers and will die from it.  They then also realize the Caliph now has no food and will kill them for it.

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They accidently break his glasses and Shaggy hides in drag.  The blind Caliph mistakes Shaggy for a suitor and his future wife thinking he is beautiful, smart, and witty.  Clearly he needs a woman with the last two traits to complete him.  Shaggy’s brilliant plan is then to tell him a story so boring it will put him to sleep.  I suggest remembering that audience.  Shaggy thinks the most boring story is about Yogi Bear in a rip-off of Disney’s Aladdin.  There many good descriptions of Aladdin and Yogi-Bear but boring is not one of them.

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Frame story one is Aladdin (the Disney version) but gender flopped with Aliyah-Din.  I will definitely hate her more now that I have to constantly type that name.  Just replace the Blue genie with Yogi-Bear as a genie and this is what the film uses in 1994, two years after it came out.  It has many problems like most of Yogi’s jokes are him begging his master to wish for a picnic basket, which he does constantly.  The Prince (no name given) does a big speech about not falling for love at first sight, which is then exactly how he falls in love (lust to be exact) for Aliyah-Din.  Jafar’s counterpart has a boss who is an emerald voiced by Tony Jay.  He then disappears after one scene making him pointless and a waste of money in hiring Jay and animating it.  Its climax and twist ending is just awful.  Also it is just a dull rushed version of the Disney film, and overall it is not good and takes up way too much of the film.

It does have some redeeming qualities.  Aliyah-Din wears a light brown cloak mostly, and with how few female protagonists do that it is refreshingly different.  While this is clearly a coincidence it also has two genies (Yogi and Boo-Boo) just like the original story.

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The big help is Jafar’s counterpart Haman.  I legitimately like watching him.  I do not like the Jafar archetype, an obviously evil villain who is already high up and wants to go a little higher.   There is nothing about Haman’s appearance that indicates villain and for any viewers who have not seen the Disney film will probably be surprised he is the bad guy until it is revealed.  He also does not rely on a magic mind control staff.  He is simply good with his words and legitimately convincing that he is just trying to help, and many of his scenes from Disney’s Aladdin are an improvement because of that.  One reason Prince is not married is Haman is telling him he should not rush marriage choices, a good message that most people would listen to, and it fits his agenda of keeping the Sultan heirless to help him take over later.  How does he get Aliyah-Din to enter the cave?  He tells her the Sultan has a great disease and only the lamp can save him.  He tells her it very humbly and is very polite.  Even when he snaps he apologizes saying that his brief anger was due to his worry about the Sultan’s health (very reasonable).  While the villain cannot save the film he is a major benefit keeping it watchable.

This story takes up most of the runtime, and apparently Scooby-Doo in Arabian Knights lacks a certain thing promised, like Scooby-Doo characters.  Yogi-Bear should have been marketed.  Yikes Aliyah-din only takes up 34 minutes?  It felt way longer.  Well as expected this does not put the Caliphate to sleep.  Surprisingly he does love the story and is even more in love with Shaggy.  Shaggy now makes the right choice to tell him an unromantic comedy, and this is actually a big improvement and the only full part worth the watch.  It stars the mostly forgotten Hanna-Barberra character, Magilla Gorilla.

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This next part is simple good comedy with Magilla mistaking Sinbad’s raiding ship as a cruise ship.  They then hunt down various treasures with hijinks ensuing.  There are still two problems.  The previous story is just boring and by this time I am not interested any more.  Also the first treasure hunt is the longest and also not fun to watch.  The second one is the great one which involves Magilla and Sinbad being on a roller coaster with jewels all around it, as they try to steal the valuables while avoiding all the death threats.  This is also where Sinbad becomes a great comedic villain.  He has a good mix of legitimately caring for Magilla and the flaw of being more interested in the treasure.  The third voyage is mixed, but Sinbad keeps it funny.  When Sinbad loses everything I am kind of sad to see it, because I really enjoyed him and felt he was going through character development from a greedy criminal to a caring boss.

The film ends with the Caliph deciding the fun of the stories made him forget his hunger.  Shaggy and Scooby are made royal story tellers.

This film fails in context.  It should have been advertised as a Hanna-Barberra film, not Scooby-Doo who hardly has any role.  The Sinbad story should have been first.  Give the audience a short good comedy before the main event that way they could enjoy the better one and then at least go into the second one already happy.  If not that then greatly shorten the Aladdin story and make Sinbad more than a comedy by adding in a real arc for Sinbad.  That had plenty of potential for it, but it was only treated as a tacked on epilogue to the main event despite being vastly superior.  While not the worst Scooby-Doo movie I have seen it is the one I think the fewest people would like. It is really bad.

DTV Wonders Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase

 

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Scooby Doo on Zombie Island was my first written DTV Wonder, and now I return to the early Scooby-Doo movies, and I have as much nostalgia for this film as most of The Land Before Time films.  Jim Stenstrum is back as the director and Davis Doi is still producing and doing the story, but the writers are different. The main cast change is Grey DeLisle takes over as the voice of Daphne, a role which she had until 2013. This film came out in 2001. This is normally considered one of the best Scooby-Doo movies, and that is accurate to me.

The opening trailers are very good when they are about movies. The Harry Potter and he Sorcerer’s Stone trailer makes me want to watch it again.  The trailer to Pokémon 3 shows some cool Cyndaquil action, and the trailer to Grandma got run over by a Reindeer… well what else could it be? Then the toy commercials seem to have nothing to work with.

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At a strange lab some scientists talk about a laser. They are professor Kaufman (coincidently the name of one of my college’s buildings where I do most of my classes), Erik, and Bill. Besides Erik’s actor voicing Bucky the squirrel in The Emperor’s new Groove, none of their actors are important, which is fine for small roles like they have.  Apparently the laser is broken, but then it just turns on after Bill presses some buttons and keeps pressing them (he is probably the villain), and then the Laser shoots the Phantom Virus into the world. While I have named him the movie does not until later giving the viewers a mysterious unknown villain.  He is also able to absorb computer data and make electronics come to life as his minions so it ends with a close up of his pointy chin, as the professor and his students are trapped.  This results in disappointment when the Mystery Machine is shown with the characters expositioning about their fried Erik making a computer game based off them instead of more of the college.

They arrive at “State University.”  I presume it is named for its founder, John State. They meet the Red Herring, Officer Wembley (there is zero chance he had access to the computers necessary), and he immediately worries they are pranksters.  The next few scenes give exposition with some comic relief mixed in to keep the kiddies entertained like Scooby and Shaggy nearly eating radioactive tomatoes.  Both Kaufman and Erik ask for help, and it is revealed they escaped the virus as the electromagnet is his kryptonite, as it hurts his pixels.  Also it is mentioned he can wreck all of Earth’s technology (sadly it will not be explored).  The laser can move objects into the computer world and apparently vice versa, as a Virus was beamed in.  They use this for making computer game instead of ending The Great Pacific Garbage island

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We then have a bad mythology gag. When Fred says to split up Scooby and Shaggy leave before he says who will go with whom.  Shaggy’s response is “Like we ever do it any other way.” In the first two seasons more often than not it was Scooby, Shaggy, and Velma in a group. Well after that Scooby and Shaggy proceed to eat the cafeteria dry, while Velma, Fred, and Daphne have a showdown with the phantom virus, and interestingly thanks to the magnet this time the gang is chasing the monster instead of the reverse.  They are then caught by Officer Wembly who points out that they are in a restricted area and Kaufman never gave them hall passes.  Maybe Kaufman is the villain.  Well in what is probably he best part of the movie’s humor the phantom virus chases Scooby and Shaggy, which includes them using a robot against him (virus forgot he can control), and electrocuting him.

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Then they electrocute him again.

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Despite being able to control technology, hide in dust, and shoot lasers from his fingers, he seems surprisingly playful and inept, since this is not his world.  They run by the rest resulting in the whole gang getting stuck trying to fin him. Then the laser is powered by a lab cat hand (further ruling Wembley out) beams them into the computer game.  It is then revealed by Erik that the only way for them to get out is for them to get past all ten levels. The problem is they could still beam in a guide to the game, a walkthrough, or supplies.

Level one is the moon level, where it is quickly established that they can still feel pain there, and presumably die.  The story gets episodic here, as it is about them being chased by moon goons and the phantom virus, as in each level this is what they have to do in order to find a box of Scooby snacks.  The story gets episodic because of it, and this is quite dull except for showing the phantom virus to now be a much larger threat, as he has allies and all of the magnets are stuck in the real world.  Why put them down?

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The second level is much improved.  They are moved to the Roman Coliseum.  To make things worse a lion has the Scooby snacks, but he for some reason puts it on the ground.  After a good chase between the gladiators and Scooby and Shaggy; Fred successfully bull fights the lion into the pen. In a chase scene that then makes no sense if you consider the timing, Shaggy and Scooby distract the gladiators by disguising themselves as…

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Assuming Caligula was emperor at the time him being a dog is actually believable.  They then get to the hardest level, three out of ten.  Apparently to pass this prehistoric level the player must wander a huge forests where everything is trying to kill you, find the scooby snacks on an erupting volcano, have no knowledge beforehand that they are there, have the only clue being a drawing in a random cave, which the player may not go into, deal with it turning dark, and do it before the volcano erupts.  This sounds insanely difficult, and I am wondering why it is level three instead of at least eight.  It is actually the best level to watch and it begins with the phantom virus on a T-Rex.

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They escape it the same way as they did in The Land Before Time VI (which came out three years before this film, so I always assumed they had just watched it for inspiration), by hiding in the thick trees where it could not go.  They eventually reach the volcano by wooly mammoth riding (apparently Erik programmed them to smell bad).  Scooby heroically goes to save a baby pterodactyl, which it turns out was on top of the Scooby snacks.

Then the film montages the next six levels, which all look considerably easier than level three until level ten.  They are in a city, and they eventually find their older counterparts.

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I have no memory of Scooby wearing a red collar anywhere else, and Velma looks identical, but this is cool to see, as they meet Erik’s programed characters, especially how different their eyes are.  In a nice reference they meet them in a malt shop, as most episodes of the first two seasons begin with the gang reading a newspaper in a malt shop.  Fortunately they also know where the scooby snacks are.  Apparently they are supposed to just wander a huge city until they get to the theme park where they are.  Why not just make the theme park the whole level, as it is clearly big enough?  Was this a plan to sell guide books, as this just sounds like boring grinding. They find the phantom virus in a batting cage, and then the creeper and many old Scooby-Doo villains that even I am unfamiliar with.

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At least the tar monster later showed up in Scooby-Doo 2 Monsters Unleashed.  To make things worse they are all real monsters in cyberspace instead of normal people in masks.  They then split up and have some surprisingly well written and good scenes with their older counterparts as they outwit the monsters to escape… twice. They then meet up at the arcade where the virus and Scooby snacks are, and it turns out Shaggy still has the magnet (that damages cyber creatures), and it affects the cyber mystery gang. How did he not feel that huge thing, and it should also affect the area and inanimate objects. In a finely done scene Fred says they should just use the magnet on the virus, and get the cyber gang to stay away outside the arcade.  Instead Fred gets cocky and slips on a ball, and the magnet falls under a game. To make things worse the virus makes the game come to life, and its wires grab Fred. Now the virus is shooting lasers everywhere and controlling the objects to fly everywhere. It is amazing how much more intimidating he has gotten throughout the movie. The cyber gang can tell something is wrong, but then the monsters from earlier chase them away except cyber Scooby who goes inside of the arcade.

Fred gives him a plan which is for Cyber Scooby to mock the virus distracting him, while real Scooby gets the Scooby snacks.  Shagy’s comment “…I’ve never seen Scooby acting so brave.” still bugs me. What about in level three? Well Scooby grabs them, and that defeats all the villains, and lets them go home.

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I cannot say the different Mystery Incs leaving is sad, but it is a nice end to the main part of the film. They arrive back to solve the mystery of… who created the virus. Frankly I would think it could be a Russian hacker, and it is hard to still care about it compared to the Cyber space story.  Fred points out all the baseball references and Erik shows signs of guilt by fleeing instead of claiming to be framed.  He is arrested and the movie ends at a malt shop as a nice call back to the original series and level 10. After that lots and lots of ads for the video game.

As an adult this film is overly episodic and lacks focus.  It makes little sense as well.  As a kid this movie is stupendous.  Everything about it is amazing, and all my siblings loved it too.  Since children are the target audience I think that weighs more, so this is a great film, but without nostalgia I doubt any adult fans will like it.

 

 

DTV Wonders: Scooby Doo on Zombie Island

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The Scooby-Doo franchise looked to be nearly dead, and then the undead brought it back to life literally.  It was so good the nostalgia for zombies is still going.  The promise of real monsters was too much for my family to pass up and this is normally considered the best of the franchise.  We watched it a few years after it came out and, it was terror time again.

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The beginning is very good, as it feels like Scooby-doo with the slapstick and all the characters being true to their personalities,  while introducing the darker atmosphere.  It also does some fourth wall breaking.  Since the recent serieses have normally not had the entire gang together (or made them children) the gang starts having gone their separate ways (done much better than in the live-action movie).  They also get back together quickly.  Does it hold up today?  Part of its importance is giving Fred, the generic guy, a personality.  The recent series, Mystery Incorporated, did that making it seem unnecessary.  It does help show what Daphne will be like this film and give the audience a chance to get used to the new voices.  It also helps with the atmosphere of legit friendship between the gang.  Something that direct-to-videos often excel at.

We then get a good reminder of the usual formula, which helps the climax of the film and will potentially be dull.  It is to a notably exciting montage, but keeping it short and the good darker animation keeps it interesting enough.

One thing this does better that anything is showing Louisiana well (more on this when I get to season 16 of Arthur).  For one we do not celebrate Mardi Gras every day, and it is not shown here.  There are not alligators in the city.  Our accents are not impossible to understand.  We call it New Orle-ans not New Orleenes.  I am pretty sure the writers had been to Louisiana.  Daphne is annoyed that no monsters are real.  She wants a new challenge.

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A local, Lena, then tells them about an island with a real pirate ghost.  She offers to take them there, and Fred wants to go, as he has an instant crush on her and wants to find the guy in the mask.  Daphne wants to go for the chance at a real haunted house.  I think Velma mostly wants to solve another mystery.  They go by ferry where to help add to the more dark mood Shaggy and Scooby are nearly eaten by alligators.  Who saves them?

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He instantly demands everyone else leave.  He growls everything he says, has Mark Hamill’s voice.  He is a hunter, a typical acceptable target, and he looks creepy.  Contrary to what the live action movie said the creepy guy was almost never the villain on the original show.  They were the red herring, and when I saw this at four years old I knew he was the red herring.  I also remembered that since the monsters are going to be real then it must be that no human is the villain.  Today I would have not thought that due to how many characters are introduced, but my four year old mind was not that genre savvy.  After that we are introduced to Beau and Simone.  Beau is also like a red herring but I knew for two reasons why he is not the villain.  He is far too handsome and Velma and Fred suspect him too much.  Simone is clearly the victim who needs help.  I forgot those people were often the villain in the original show.

Simone at first seems to dislike the gang, but she is clearly more receptive when she learns they are interested in the hauntings.  Time to discuss the comic relief antics.  In a few later DTV films, What’s New Scooby-Doo, and Mystery Incorporated Scooby and Shaggy’s antics fit into the plot very well.  Here some are fun, but they mostly distract from the plot.  I am amazed the run time is only 77 minutes with all of them.  Still, it is a powerful scene when they are interrupted by a sword drawing “get out.  beware.”

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Rewatch perspective:  Why not write “Beware, your hosts and ferry driver are human sacrificing super strong cat creatures.  Flee and steal some way home.  Take the gardener with you preferably.”  In its defense they probably assume their actual method will be more effective, as they do not know how skeptical of real monsters they are.

The scene is always quite freaky as new words appear in between shots, the music, the characters going from in control to having no idea what is happening.

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Fred is still incredibly convinced it is a hologram (that only appears on tapes instead of regular life).  Daphne thinks it is real, and she wants Fred to consider it.  Velma seems to think it is something she will figure out later, and Shaggy and Scooby think it is an excuse for a picnic.  Until they find Morgan  Moonscar’s ghost as a zombie.

This is quite the frightening image.  The characters move slow to add to the suspense, but the villain does not seem slow.  The fright and confusion from Shaggy and Scooby is way more than I had ever seen before.

Rewatch bonus:  Normally the ghosts are supposedly not trying to hurt them clearly are. Here he has a cutlass, yet he never strikes with it, and it quickly disappears.  Even better in the rewatch what previously was just scary is now scary and sad.  His eyes in the above picture look angry, but that is because he is fighting the villains to save the gang.  He looks more sad and in desperate need of help when he first shows up.

They run into Beau whom Velma is now deeply suspecting due to him always appearing and reapearing in accordance with the zombes.  It actually comes off as Velma being over dramatic.

This film relies on the big moments over being consistently good.  The scenes that build up to bigger events do not need to be good in these types of movies, and one of the biggest scenes is where more zombies come.

 

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These zombies are full of body horror.  One eve appears to be a pregnant women.  They all look different.  I knew when watching this it would have real monsters, but this is far more scary than I suspected.  Then Fred rips one of their heads off to unmask it only to have a headless creature put its still moving head back on.  He is still in denial, but now a far less honest one. We then get to the chase to the song, “Terror Time Again.”  It is woderful and really develops a style of fear.  Besides “All Dogs go to Heaven” I have never seen a film this scary and it just gets scarier.  This is even scarier than Mystery Incorporated.

After all this Scooby and Shaggy are still running for their lives.  Velma, Fred, Daphne, and Beau flee to the house.  Velma still suspects Beau.  Fred is now speechless.  Daphne knows no one will believe them.  Beau is mad to be a suspect, but now more upset.  According to Lena, Simone has been captured and…

One line by Daphne is “This is more haunted stuff than I really wanted.”  The entire audience agrees.  It turns out Lena and Simone are cat creatures who need to make human sacrifices to stay alive, as they have done for the past 200 years, putting this movies death count at well over two hundred thirty people.

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If this is Uncle Beauregard it is like my family reunions. 

The climax is just amazing.  It has zombies saving the gang on multiple occasions.  The comedy helps the drama instead of distracting from it.  It is exciting and we get to root for the previous red herring villains, which would be incredibly fun if all the horror, fridge horror, and plots did not overshadow it making it feel like actually being there.  It also has the sweet ending where a Confederate Zombie stays just long enough to thank Scooby-Doo.  The only problem is the resolution is too quick, but that helps make the zombies responsible for saving the day.

This film has a few methods I do not like such as relying on the big scenes rather than making the entire thing great.  It also has mood problems, but other than that it is great.  The acting is  good.  The animation is very good for the story, the plot is wonderfully complex.  The characters are very good.  The idea is something everyone wanted to see, and it gave us way more than the audience thought they wanted to see.  It is a very good film that revived a franchise.