I have just returned from having seen Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed in a packed theatre, not a single seat left empty. Families with kids from toddler to teen populated the dark interior. There were some moments during the movie when I cringed, expecting to hear the frightened shrieks of the younger, more sensitive members of the audience but was relieved to hear not one single cry, not even when the sound effects got loud, not even when I jumped a couple of times at the unexpected.
The quick (and correct) plot summary is: Mystery, Inc. has donated costumes to the Coolsonian Criminology Museum. These costumes were worn by the various schemers and crooks over the years that Mystery, Inc. has unmasked when solving assorted mysteries. Someone has devised a way of creating real monsters by using these costumes and a substance called randomonium and that same someone is determined to completely destroy Mystery, Inc. and Coolsville with these new monsters.
There were some really cool moments in this movie, the Pterodactyl ghost flying away with the Evil Masked Figure was pretty awesome, Shaggy and Scooby playing with chemical potions was very funny, Seth Green is very funny as the museum curator. There are the pre-requisite fart jokes but they are funnier than what was in the first Scooby Doo movie, the theatre laughed hard at one scene involving Miner 49er during his unfortunate encounter with Shaggy and a nervously gassy Scooby. In fact, most everything about Scooby Doo 2 is better, funnier, cleaner and smarter than the first one. There were a few scenes that felt a little clumsy, Fred being masculine, Daphne being Buffy-ish and Scooby dancing makes three. For some reason the Black Knight Ghost was given a lot of dialogue, unfortunately you can't understand a single word except his last sentence, which happens to be a bad pun. The other ghosts are mostly, and appropriately, monosyllabic, as were their cartoon forerunners.
The special effects are seamless right from the beginning, the Pterodactyl-eye view of Vancouver, BC as Coolsville is stunning. The shimmer effects with the ghosts is very cool, the bright and vibrant colors lend to the completely fantastical vision of this fantastically fictional place inhabited by the most normal looking oddballs one could imagine. This time around, Matthew Lillard, (there is no better Shaggy), gets to play more with Scooby. Linda Cardellini still has the Velma vibe going and Neil Fanning is the Scooby voice master. Sadly, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar still do not understand who Fred and Daphne are or what they are about. It's distracting to see preppie Fred turned into a valley/skaterboy and I do not remember Daphne being so vapid and self-involved. Peter Boyle makes a perfect Old Man Wickles, cranky and completely bothered by the very existence of Mystery, Inc., Tim Blake Nelson in his brief appearances as Jacobo looks completely crazed. Alicia Silverstone was adept as a TV reporter who apparently has a bit of a grudge against Daphne. That leaves the stars of this movie, the monsters, most of which are CGI and voiced by experienced voice actors in the usual cartoon manner, but four of the ghosts are actually humans inside elaborate costumes. They did an excellent job of acting through the layers of prosthetic makeup, costuming and physical absence of their CGI screen mates. The added effects of glowing randomonium and varying degrees of transparency combined with complete obedience to their leader, the Evil Masked Figure, made the danger to the inhabitants of Coolsville apparent.
The sets, costumes, music, sound effects, visual effects, it all works to transfer the small-screen cartoon to the big screen in live action. For Game Boy Advance players, stay until after the very last name in the credits has rolled to see what Scooby Doo has just for you.
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