Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Freddie Prinze Jr, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Seth Green, Peter Boyle
Extras: Deleted Footage, Music Videos, Interactive Games, Featurettes

Scooby-Doo and the gang are back in the sequel to their live-action smash hit debut of 2002. Considering the first film took in a massive $54 Million in its opening weekend and finished with a worldwide gross of about $275 million it was only a matter of time before we’d see Mystery Inc. return to the big screen. And here they are. Coming to DVD on September 14th, we can yet again park our brains at the door and sit wide eyed at the non-stop visual feast that is "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed." And to be honest with you, I actually had more fun with this film than the first one. Growing up with the original animated series as a kid, I liked the idea of seeing a lot of the famous monsters from the 60’s/70’s cartoon series making appearances throughout the film. The 10,000 Volt Ghost in particular is a great special effect.

The plot of the film is simple. A masked villain, it wouldn’t be Scooby-Doo without one, is bringing to life real-life versions of Mystery Inc.’s former foes. It’s up to Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Thelma & Daphne to solve this mystery and re-establish their fame and glory. The production quality of the film is extremely good and the movie’s budget certainly shows. Set pieces are highly detailed and the visual effects are top notch. They may not look realistic but the work very well within the context this over-the-top movie. Matthew Lillard and Scooby still steal the show in my opinion. Lillard was born to play Shaggy and it’s uncanny how close he sounds to Casey Kasem from the original series. As far as bringing the animated series to screen goes, this seems to be as close as its going to get.

Warner Home Video is bringing this film home not only its original 1.78:1 theatrical <$PS,widescreen> format, <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> <$PS,widescreen> televisions, but also in a <$PS,Pan & Scan> release that is sold separately as well. The image quality in the <$PS,widescreen> release is nothing short of spectacular. Similar to many Warner Home Video releases over the years the image is free of any sort of grain or digital artifacts. Colors are incredibly vibrant and flesh tones dead accurate. Looking at most of the costumes and set pieces throughout the film, it’s nice to see a complete lack of over-saturation. Especially with Velma’s bright orange wardrobe and Daphne’s purple fashion sense. Sharp details, such as the hair on Scooby or on most of the monsters is very visible with only minimal enhanced edging.

Unfortunately the audio doesn’t hold up quite as well. The <$DD,Dolby Digital> 5.1 soundtrack is very active – especially up front. The musical score, sound effects and dialog are crystal clear. It’s just too bad they didn’t hire someone with better talent to mix the soundtrack. Just like the first film the movie is in your face all the time. Only at small moments does it let up. For a series that involved creepy locales and moody music, you’d think the sound team had never watched an episode of the original series in their lives. Also the constant terrible snippets of music placed throughout the film just to sell a soundtrack CD just don’t fit and leave a bitter taste in this reviewer’s mouth. It is one thing to create a movie that is hip and another entirely to create on that is simply over-commercialized. And the final song number by American Idol’s Ruben almost made me throw the remote at the screen. What’s next? Clay Aiken singing a closing song for the next Star Wars film?

The disc rounds out with a host of extra features. We get 7 minutes of additional scenes, music videos, 2 audiovisual puzzles called "The Scooby-Doo Monsters Unleashed Challenge" and "The Mystery of the Missing Pants." "Dancing Dog," a how they made Scooby-Doo dance featurette, 2 more featurettes, DVD-ROM content and preview teasers for upcoming Warner family titles such as "The Polar Express" and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" wrap up the disc.

If you weren’t a fan of the first film you might dislike this one just as much or enjoy it more. Overall this movie is better than the first. It’s not going to win any Oscars and you’ll probably never watch the film more than once. But for that 93 minutes it’s an entertaining, brainless ride that’s fun for the whole family.