2006’s “Pirates Ahoy!” is one of the more clever animated sequels to come from the aughts when the “Scooby Doo” movie series was pretty much stale. By this time they’d given up fighting real monsters, and reverted back to criminals and goons with fancy costumes and illusions. It’s surprising how much talent these direct to DVD movies always attract, and the cast compliments what is a pretty nifty mystery, altogether.
Who better to celebrate Halloween than the Scooby Gang? “Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo!” is the thirty first animated movie in the long running franchise. It’s a long running franchise that, to its credit, doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. This installment is firmly a Halloween oriented movie, revolving around the idea of fear, and Velma trying to ignore her emotional response to fear in favor of rationality. What she ultimately comes to realize is that fear can be a good thing; it can even help us survive in perilous situations.
I’d be lying if I said that I’m the biggest Scooby Doo fan around. Hell, I’m still stunned that Hanna Barbera has placed so much stock in the franchise for so many decades, but I digress. I had high hopes going in to “Scoob!” as every generation is introduced to Scooby Doo once again in some new form, and “Scoob!” seemed like the right avenue. Not only does it give us a new vision of Scooby Doo, but it makes tweaks to the mythos that I liked, while also establishing a shared Hanna Barbera universe. And yet, at the end of it all, I’d still rather have seen “Scooby Doo on Zombie Island” or “Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost,” again.
No matter how classic or profitable a series or franchise is, studios are always in the market of appealing to a younger audience with a new version of the property. With the success of shows like Muppet Babies and The Flintstone Kids, Hanna-Barbera decided to revisit the formula in 1988 for Scooby-Doo. It was their attempt to win over a new generation of fans while dusting the cobwebs off of the franchise that’d begun to show its age thanks to misguided spin offs and introductions of grating additions like Scrappy Doo and Flim Flam.
Not since “The Witch’s Ghost” has there been a “Scooby Doo” adventure so deeply rooted in Halloween that it qualifies as automatic viewing for the holiday. While it is a change in pace for the Mystery Inc. crew, it’s a fun adventure in to the magic and supernatural element, along with some pretty stellar animation, and a pretty awesome surprise ending that I admittedly didn’t see coming.
As a Hanna Barbera geek, I have to say “Mask of the Blue Falcon” hit all the right notes. I didn’t just have a good time with the surprisingly clever vehicle for the Mystery Inc. crew, but I also had so much fun pointing out all of the Easter Eggs. And yes, every single Easter Egg within “Mask of the Blue Falcon” is a reference to a Hanna Barbera cartoon from the sixties and seventies. I’m just disappointed we didn’t see anything referencing “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids.” What? It’s an obscenely underrated Scooby Doo wannabe, darnit!
For the uninitiated when Scooby Doo was attempting a new formula, they turned “Scooby Doo” in to a series of movies where they solved crimes with big celebrities like Dick Van Dyke and Sonny and Cher. Among the most popular crossovers was Batman and Robin. For years Batman and Robin were the most consistent allies of Mystery, Inc. getting in to all kinds of scrape ups with them, and battling people like Joker and the Penguin. They just seemed to click. “The Brave and the Bold” continues the long tradition by teaming them together by pairing the modern iteration of Scooby Doo with the family friendly animated “Batman: Brave and Bold” and it works.
If you’re one of the many KISS fans that have always wondered what a sequel to “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park” would look like, look no further. “Scooby Doo Meets KISS” should be more aptly titled “KISS Meets the Crimson Witch featuring Scooby Doo.” In all honesty, while this is primarily a cartoon for the Scooby Doo franchise, the majority of the film is based around KISS and their magical presences. Even the opening sequence is comprised of wonderful animated KISS montages with “Rock and Roll All Night” playing rather than the Scooby Doo theme song.