At first glance, Scoob! seems like it’s going to be an origin story for our favourite scaredy-dog and his mystery solving friends. Yet it soon becomes clear that it’s a shameless, awkward and somewhat cynical attempt to set up a shared universe featuring the classic Hanna-Barbera characters from the 60s and 70s.
It all starts off nicely, with a young Scooby Doo – given his name by a lonely little boy called Norville Rogers (who claims his friends call him Shaggy just after the film goes to great lengths to inform you that he has no friends). It’s not long before they encounter the rest of the gang and accidentally solve their first ever mystery – and then there’s a fantastic credit sequence that recreates the classic 1969 Scooby Doo! Where Are You? opening titles, complete with all of the classic monsters, lovingly rendered in 3D CGI.
Then it all goes horribly wrong. There’s a really misjudged cameo (of the sort where a character has to tell you who it is in dialogue), which seems ill-placed for the target audience as well as the parents who’ll be wondering how on earth it came to pass. The gang are split up almost immediately after that – and it’s from here on in that we’re constantly bashed over the head with new character introductions, exposition and oddly high stakes for a Scooby story; it just doesnt gel well at all.
There’s some charm in the animation and character designs and some of the cast (featuring big names, such as Zac Efron in the role of Fred, Jason Isaacs as Dick Dastardly and Mark Wahlberg as the Blue Falcon’s son) do well – but it’s hard to escape the feeling that Scoob! just doesn’t feel like a Scooby Doo film. Warner Bros. have previous form with awkwardly rushing to set up a cinematic universe with their DC movies – unfortunately, it looks like they haven’t learned their lesson from that mess in the slightest.
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