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Raja Gosnell
Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Seth Green, Peter Boyle, Tim Blake Nelson, Alicia Silverstone, Neil Fanning
Writing Credits:
William Hanna (characters), Joseph Barbera (characters), James Gunn

Got Monsters?

Scooby and the gang confront an anonymous masked villain who is plotting to take over the city of Coolsville by wreaking mayhem with a monster machine that creates Mystery Inc.'s classic foes.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$29.438 million on 3312 screens.
Domestic Gross
$84.185 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $27.95
Release Date: 9/14/2004

• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Two Music Videos
• “The Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed Challenge”  Game
• “The Mystery of the Missing Pants” Game
• “Triple Threat” Featurette
• “Dancing Dog” Featurette
• “True Ghoul Hollywood Story” Featurette
• Sneak Peek Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 2, 2004)

Because my work on this site plops me in front of so many movies, I don’t often get out to theaters anymore. One big reason: if I see Flick “X” and hate it, I know I’ll get stuck watching it again a few months later. That doesn’t exactly encourage me to see a variety of movies.

Exhibit A: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Ironically, I only went to see the movie theatrically because of this site. A couple of other DVDs tossed in free passes, so a friend and I decided to give it a look. It didn’t hurt that I kind of enjoyed the original; that flick wasn’t a classic, but it worked reasonably well.

Free passes in hand, we went to the sequel. We overpaid. Unleashed reminded me why I prefer to avoid movies theatrically, as it offered a depressingly crappy piece of work.

At the start of Unleashed, we see the Mystery Inc. gang at the top of the world. The “Coolsonian Criminology Museum” opens in Coolsville, and they come as the guests of honor. This reintroduces blustery, self-centered head man Fred (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), brainy nerd Velma (Linda Cardellini), sexy but spoiled Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), cowardly but kind Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), and canine mascot Scooby-Doo (voiced by Neil Fanning).

The museum celebrates many of their biggest cases, but their past comes back to haunt them when one of the monster costumes comes to life and trashes the joint. It doesn’t help that local journalist Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone) manipulates the facts to make Fred and the others look bad. They need to redeem themselves and solve the case.

The movie follows their actions, with something of an emphasis on Shaggy and Scooby. They get tired of their status as screw-ups and want to solve the caper on their own. In addition, Velma tries to loosen up when she falls for museum curator Patrick (Seth Green).

To call the plot a loose framework seems like an understatement. The story feels like nothing more than an excuse for lots of chaotic wackiness, and that’s where the movie fails. Granted, one doesn’t expect a flick like this to present a tight and well-plotted story, but the writers could have tried a little harder. This story meanders and comes across as nothing more than a vague conglomeration of sight gags tied together without much else to hook them.

The first Scooby-Doo got by on its sheer goofy charm. In particular, the lively and note-perfect performances from Cardellini and Lillard made it a minor tongue-in-cheek treat.

Unfortunately, those areas can’t compensate here. We can only delight in excellent mimicry for a little while; eventually the series needs to offer something else to make it work. That doesn’t happen, and the emphasis on set pieces over characters translates into a dull program. The actors seem bored and don’t invest their characters with much life.

Director Raja Gosnell led the first movie as well, and it appears that he used all his creativity then. Unleashed tries to entertain us with lots of special effects and wild action, but it’s all a lot of bang and clatter without any spark or excitement. The story sputters along from one loud piece of mayhem after another, and it quickly grows tiresome.

Unleashed forces an occasional grin but nothing else. The movie fails to create anything lively or distinctive on its own. The filmmakers managed to balance homage and parody well the first time, but the second flick totally runs on empty. It’s only 92 minutes but feels like it lasts hours and hours.

Odd post-credits footnote: if you make it through the whole ending, you’ll find a postscript in which Scooby provides a secret code for a Game Boy Advance program. I suppose this is cool if you have the game, but it’s useless if you don’t.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus C

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although the original flick looked good, the sequel provided an even stronger visual presentation.

Sharpness seemed solid. The movie always remained crisp and distinct, as I noticed no signs of softness or fuzziness. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I also detected no obvious signs of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, the film lacked any problems related to grit, speckles or other defects, and it also didn’t suffer from any of the mild artifacting I noticed in its predecessor. The flick always stayed smooth and fresh.

Colors appeared terrific throughout the movie. The cartoony world of Scooby offered a very vivid and varied palette, and the DVD replicated the tones quite nicely. The hues consistently came across as bright and distinct, and they lacked any form of bleeding, noise, or other issues. Black levels also seemed deep and dense, while shadow detail looked clear and appropriately heavy. All of these factors combined to make Unleashed a very positive visual presentation.

In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Unleashed slightly improved on the already-positive audio of its predecessor. The soundfield offered a fairly active and engaging presence. The front domain dominated the flick, as the forward channels provided distinct stereo imaging for the music as well as a positive sense of environment. Those elements blended together well and moved cleanly across the speakers.

As for the surrounds, they kicked into gear more frequently and actively than during the original movie. This became especially obvious during the many ghost/monster sequences, which featured fine use of the rear speakers. All of this made the mix involving and creative.

Audio quality appeared solid. Dialogue seemed natural and warm, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects came across as distinct and accurate; they boasted solid clarity and also showed fine low-end response when appropriate. Music sounded bright and vibrant, and the songs and score provided good dynamics with tight, deep bass. As with the picture, the audio didn’t blow away that of the prior movie, but Unleashed improved upon that model enough to boost my grade to an “A-“.

While the first Scooby-Doo presented a pretty nice set of supplements, Unleashed comes with a much more restricted package. We start with seven deleted scenes that fill seven minutes, 14 seconds. These show a little more of Scooby and Shaggy as they search Wickles’ mansion and also at the bar with the baddies. We also see the robbery at the museum, a smidgen more when Scooby and Shaggy chat with Velma after they see Patrick, Scooby’s slide down the hill, Velma running from the Skellys, and a sentimental moment between Scooby and Shaggy as they flee the monsters. None of these seem very interesting, though Shaggy’s choice of his alleged villainous identity is sort of amusing. It’s also fun to see rawer stages of the CG Scooby and a few shots in which we watch Matthew Lillard work to the space that Scooby would later fill.

We can watch the clips with or without commentary from director Raja Gosnell. He discusses elements of the shots and lets us know why he axed most of the various sequences. He lacks much energy as he chats about the clips, but he gives us the requisite information in this fairly useful discussion.

Next we find two music videos. We get “Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Again)” by Big Brovaz and “Don’t Wanna Think About You” from Simple Plan. The former provides a fairly uninspired remake of the Sly Stone classic, while the video is marginally interesting as it puts the performers in a spooky situation with a cameo from Scooby. As for the latter, the song sounds like one of the 8 million Blink 182 style pop rock bands out there, but the video’s not bad. It shows the band members as they rush to make it to the movie’s premiere. It’s not ingenious, but at least it kept my interest for a few minutes.

Two games show up after this. The “Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed Challenge” requires you to find clues to solve a mystery. I normally like to play through an entire game when I write them up, but this one got so tedious after a while that I quit. If this makes me a bad reviewer, so be it, but life’s too short to suffer through this painful experience.

“The Mystery of the Missing Pants” purports that someone stole Shaggy’s pants and you need to find them. You do this via hidden icons in the various menus; if you find them, you get short featurettes to provide hints. Actually, it ends up less as a mystery to solve than as an Easter egg hunt. You locate the mini-featurettes throughout the menus and they eventually reveal the perpetrator; you don’t get a chance to make a guess yourself. It’s cute, and the cooperation of cast and crew makes it more entertaining, but it’s not special.

Three featurettes appear next. Triple Threat runs 10 minutes, 17 seconds and lets us see how they executed the sets, stunts and effects. We get shots behind the scenes and hear from production designer Bill Boes, writer James Gunn, stunt coordinator JJ Makaro, fight choreographer James Bamford, visual effects supervisor Peter Crossman, effects supervisor Betsy Patterson, animation director Leon Joosen, art director Mike Meeker, and actors Linda Cardellini, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddy Prinze, Jr., Matthew Lillard, Seth Green and Alicia Silverstone. They provide basic details about the three topics in question and also give us some reflections and impressions of the subjects. It’s a generally superficial examination but it tosses out a smattering of useful information along with some pretty good shots from the set.

The next program is called True Ghoul Hollywood Story. It fills five minutes, 42 seconds and goes into the movie’s monsters. Treated like a tabloid TV show, it purports to give us the “real scoop” on the baddies. We hear comments from the Cotton Candy Glob, Redbeard’s Ghost, the Ozark Witch, and a humorously disguised Scooby and Shaggy. The villains defend their actions as being products of their environments, but S&S combat that concept. It’s marginally cute and that’s about it.

For the last featurette, Dancing Dog occupies five minutes, 25 seconds as it lets us see how they did the effects to allow Scooby to boogie down in the movie. We get some in-character comments from a few actors about what a party-meister Scooby is, and then we learn a little about the effects. Those parts give us remarks from Joosen, choreographer Anne Fletcher, and Patterson. They cover the basics of their work and that’s about it. It’s not especially deep, but it does the job, and it’s fun to see the headless actor who danced in costume at work without the CG overlays.

While the set lacks the ad for Unleashed, we do get some promos in the Sneak Peek Trailers area. It includes clips for The Polar Express, Kangaroo Jack: G’Day USA!, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Aloha Scooby-Doo and the Unleashed soundtrack.

Although I kind of liked the original movie, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed almost totally falls flat. The film comes across as uninspired and tired, and it fails to capitalize on the prior flick’s positives. Although the DVD presents excellent picture and audio, it comes with only a small smattering of mostly mediocre extras. Despite the paucity of supplements, the DVD represents the flick well and will make fans happy. For those without an established interest in Unleashed, however, I can’t recommend this dismal effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8 Stars Number of Votes: 40
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