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As with the first live action film based upon the antics of cowardly canine detective, SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED ($28) isnít going to win anyone an Oscar, but it does prove to be generally harmless and amusing fun. Of course, I should also note that SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED is actually a somewhat better movie than its predecessor, since it sticks somewhat closer to the successful formula of the SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU! television series. This time out, we find that the members of Mystery Inc. have continued their long run of success, which, as the film opens, is being honored by a museum exhibit dedicated to the mysteries the gang has solved over the course of their careers.

Unfortunately, the museum dedication is ruined by a new masked bad guy who sets out to destroy Mystery Inc., by bringing to life real incarnations of monsters they faced down in the past. When the museum debacle gets a lot of bad press, the two members of Mystery Inc. noted for their enormous appetites, begin to question their value to the enterprise, and set out to try and solve this new mystery on their own. But, before the villain is unmasked, the audience is treated to plenty of red herrings, plus quite a bit slapstick and goofy lowbrow humor, which is what one would have had to expect from any movie based upon a cartoon series. The cast of SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED features Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, Linda Cardellini as Velma and Neil Fanning as the voice of the CGI Scooby-Doo. Seth Green, Peter Boyle and Alicia Silverstone lend their support to the proceedings.

Warner Home Video has made SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This being a high profile title from a major studio, it should come as no surprise that SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED looks gorgeous on DVD. Boasting excellent definition and sharpness, the picture looks just about as good as it can get. Colors are absolutely superb, appearing rich and highly saturated, without a hint of noise or smearing. Blacks are highly accurate, as are the white, plus the picture produces excellent contrast and shadow detail. The film elements used for the transfer are virtually pristine and there is little appreciable film grain during the presentation. Digital compression artifacts are always nicely concealed.

SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED comes with a pretty darn good Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The track is aggressively mixed, maybe not action movie caliber, but there are plenty of sound effects that occasionally play up the more cartoonish qualities of the material. Surrounds arenít consistently deployed, but they kick in very effectively when required by the situations in the film. The forward soundstage has a very broad quality, with excellent channel separation. Voices sound pretty natural and the dialogue remains completely intelligible. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplements. There are about seven minutes of deleted scenes contained on the DVD that can be viewed with or without commentary by director Raja Gosnell. The deleted scenes donít really add to the story, but they are interesting to watch because they contain incomplete animation of the CGI Scooby-Doo character. Next there are three featurettes Triple Threat- a ten minute making of, True Ghoul Hollywood Story- a five minute parody of a sit down with some villains, and Dancing Dog- a five minute look at how they made the Doo boogie. A couple of interactive games, plus two music videos and preview trailers close out the supplements.

SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED is a fun live action follow up that will appeal to kids and long time fans of the Scooby gang. Warnerís widescreen DVD looks and sounds great- making it a disc well worth checking out.



Scooby-Doo 2 - Monsters Unleashed (Widescreen Edition) (2004)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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