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Superior sequel is highly enjoyable
I just got back from seeing Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed for the second time now, and I find it to be a great sequel, and in some ways it improves on Scooby Doo (2002). With the first movie, while enjoyable, you could tell the cast and crew were cutting their teeth on it. With Scooby Doo 2, they know the routine and can have some fun with it. I'll warn you now, there are a few spoilers in this review, so if you don't want to read them, skip it now.
STORY: The story is good, and is truer to the style of "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" (1969) than the first film. The Evil Masked Figure, out to destroy Mystery Inc., steals the costumes of all their old foes and uses them to turn the fictional creatures into real-life monstrosities. Can Mystery Inc. solve the mystery, defeat the Evil Masked Figure, and save their hometown of Coolsville? Further troubles involve a mean-spirited reporter out to destroy Mystery Inc.'s reputation, and Shaggy and Scooby doubting their roles in Mystery Inc. since, after all, all they do is screw up time and time again, don't they?
SPFX: The special effects this time around are better than in Scooby Doo (2002). While Scooby himself looks pretty much the same as he did in the first film, the effects for the monsters, a combination of CGI and men in suits, are fantastic. Admittedly, the CGI for the Tar Monster and his various shapeshifted forms are a little weak at times, but the rest of the beasts look absolutely ghastly, especially on Captain Cutler. The 10,000 Volt Ghost, someone whose FX could've easily looked shoddy, looks great.
CAST: Matthew Lillard once again delivers the perfect performance as Shaggy, though his voice sounds a little too high-pitched (even for Shaggy). Linda Cardellini again does a great Velma, but is pretty much the same from the first film. Freddy Prinze, Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar do a much better job as Fred and Daphne, though it also has to do with how the characters were written this time. Fred isn't as idiotic as he was and Daphne isn't a helpless bimbo. Neil Fanning once again does well as the voice of Scooby Doo.
Seth Green as Patrick is one of the better characters in the film, and you're never quite sure wether he's the villain or not. Alicia Silverstone does fairly well with her role as bitchy reporter Heather Jasper Howe, and it's the first role of hers where she hasn't annoyed me into oblivion. Peter Boyle is also enjoyable as Jeramiah Wickles, who was once the Black Knight oh so long ago, and every scene with him is a treat to watch.
"DESTROY ALL MONSTERS!": The real stars of this outing, however, are the old monsters resurrected from the original cartoon series. The line-up is perfect: The Black Knight, the 10,000 Volt Ghost, Captain Cutler (a.k.a. the Ghost Diver), the Tar Monster, the Pterodactyl Ghost, Miner 49er, the Zombie, and the Skeleton Men. Though the monsters are brought to life convincingly enough, they are given the ability to speak. While I suppose this was necessary, it seemed a little odd to me, since most of the old Scooby Doo monsters just howled and growled.
However, one major complaint when it came to the monsters was the lack of one of the greatest Scooby Doo foes ever: The Creeper! The Creeper is easily one of the most famous Scooby Doo monsters of all time, surely as popular as the Black Knight and Captain Cutler, but he is nowhere to be seen in this film, a major disappointment. (His costume is seen briefly in the museum at the beginning, but that doesn't really count.)
So, to sum up:
- Closer in style to "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" (1969).
- Great SPFX.
- Fred and Daphne's characters are improved.
- Mega monster mayhem!
- Scooby not as "realistic" as the monsters.
- Fred and Daphne still need a bit more tweaking to be just right.
- Tar Monster FX occasionally weak.
- No Creeper.
Overall, I found Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed to be a great way to spend 90 minutes. As long as it's as good as this entry (or better), I wouldn't mind seeing a Scooby Doo 3.