The Mystery Gang reunite and visit Moonscar Island, a remote island with a dark secret. Daphne wants more than just a villain in a costume, and they get more than they ever expected.The Mystery Gang reunite and visit Moonscar Island, a remote island with a dark secret. Daphne wants more than just a villain in a costume, and they get more than they ever expected.The Mystery Gang reunite and visit Moonscar Island, a remote island with a dark secret. Daphne wants more than just a villain in a costume, and they get more than they ever expected.
Surprised the heck out of me-- in a good way!
I understand the value of the 70's campy, Hanna Barbera-y, cheap- n-cheesy Scooby-Doo of old. It defined the "cartoon" for an entire generation, for better or for worse (animated films are still fighting off the presumption that all "cartoons" are essentially Scooby- Doo). I have a certain sense of nostalgia myself about it. But I cannot say that I'm a fan. I always sort of roll my eyes when I see another lineup of endless Scooby-Doo reruns on Cartoon Network, going through the litany of the original series, the guest-star laden "New S-D Movies", the reprehensible Scrappy-Doo ones, and the bewildering "Pup named S-D" episodes. I knew that the occasional feature-length S-D movie had been made, with iffy quality, and I figured "S-D on Zombie Island" would be more of the same. Boy, was nothing further from the truth. The first five minutes of the film had me sitting and staring riveted at the TV, unsure what it was I was seeing. Not the Scooby-Doo I remembered, that's for sure! The animation and art quality were big-budget and richly rendered-- not true feature quality, but easily the equal of Disney TVA or any second-run theatrical film. The monsters in the intro, even though they *were* just guys in masks, looked truly menacing. The same corny "chase" gags happened, but this time they were well-thought-out and clever, and there was a geniune sense of danger... something that the campy 70's S-D would never have had. The ensuing movie consistently delivered on this promise of a fresh new take on the Scooby-Doo franchise cast. The "careers" of each of the characters were all believable (Shaggy and Scooby as contraband-sniffing inspectors in Customs-- brilliant!), and they were painted into a world that I saw as familiar, with normal clothes for once and dialogue that I could actually imagine hearing. The writing was top-notch. It was jam-packed with self-referential jokes (Fred briefly contemplates wearing his ascot to dinner, but tosses it aside), the Mystery Machine is updated to a modern minivan (complete with computers), and the background art throughout the movie does justice to it all-- it makes for real atmosphere, not just cheesy side-scrolling watercolored filler material. The original music has a Zydeco lilt to it, fitting perfectly with the setting. And Billy West (best known perhaps as Stimpy) does such a good Shaggy that I didn't even realize it wasn't Casey Kasem until the credits rolled. All in all, this film succeeds so brilliantly in reaching for a previously unattempted goal that its only weakness, if it is one, is in just how many worlds apart from its 70s heritage it is. That was a dark time for animation, and right now it's another Golden Age. S-D on Zombie Island is a product of that new sense of animated legitimacy, bringing genuine life to each of a set of characters who previously were one-dimensional at best... and I think the result is spectacular. As a film standing on its own, it rates about a 7; but in the context of its history, it's a 9+.
- Apr 22, 2001
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