As we enter our ninth week without movies in theaters because of the coronavirus pandemic, Warner Bros. Pictures boldly drops the computer-generated imagery (CGI) animated feature “Scoob!” on Video on Demand.
The movie which basically reboots not only the beloved Scooby Gang and associated characters but also virtually all of the Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Universe was originally scheduled to open in theaters today.
Instead of opting to push the debut back, WB made the decision to offer it on VOD — much like Universal Studios did earlier in the spring with its animated feature “Trolls; World Tour” — to sync up with its marketing and licensing program that was already in place when when the pandemic began to shut the entertainment world and much of the rest of economy down.
Scooby-Doo toys and various tie ins are in stores now, and to make the most of it, the movie needed to be available for kids and families to see now rather than four months from now.
Like most of you, I’ve never really known a world without some iteration of Scooby-Doo. The classic cartoon debuted in 1969 when I was 2, probably the age when my mom first set me down to watch cartoons, so I have a decent amount of nostalgia for the character, even though I never considered it a favorite.
Overall I thought the movie was pretty fun if you aren’t expecting too much. The animation is fantastic, feature-film level, which sort of makes it a shame that this movie that resets the Scooby Gang as millennials won’t ever play on the big screen.
As the trailer details, you do get to meet the gang when they are young and learn how they first met, but that’s just a small part of the movie which features cameo and guest appearances by a wide range of Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters. The Blue Falcon (voiced by Mark Wahlberg) and Dynomutt (voiced by Ken Jeong), which shared a show with Scooby in the late 1970s, are key characters in the film as is the villainous Dick Dastardly (voiced by Jason Isaacs), a character who actually predates Scooby and his buddies.
The movie has some clever lines and a bit of fun for the grown-ups. Will Forte adds some heart in voicing Shaggy, and Zac Efron has a couple of self-deprecating zingers while voicing Fred.
Frank Welker, who has been Scooby’s voice from the very beginning, is great as always as Scooby-Doo. Gina Rodriguez as Velma and Amanda Seyfried as Daphne are solid but a bit underwritten.
The movie certainly isn’t on the level of Pixar or Disney animated classic, but it’s colorful, family-friendly, and nostalgic for an old coger like me who grew up watching this characters on Saturday mornings in the 1970s.
I would have liked to seen Scooby and Shaggy with Fred, Daphne, and Velma more. The plot splits the gang up fairly quickly, and that leads to my only real complaint that the movie seemed more intent on setting up a new universe of Hanna-Barbera characters to exploited later in other movies than just telling a solid story.
But maybe, that’s viewing a Scooby-Doo movie with too critical of an eye.
The biggest and brightest surprise of the week was Disney’s announcement that it will unleash its film of the Broadway smash “Hamilton” on its Disney Plus streaming platform on July 3, a full 15 months earlier than its planed October 2021 debut.
That’s a pretty great pre-Fourth of July gift for Disney Plus subscribers, one that might actually draw in some new subscribers, as if Disney needs them.
The musical, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Moana”), tells the rags-to riches story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, organizer of the U.S. financial system, the creator of the first two de facto national banks, the founder of the Federalist Party as well as “The New York Post.” He was a famous foe of Thomas Jefferson and was also killed in a duel with the third vice president Aaron Burr.
Disney Plus has already exceeded its initial goals of attracting subscribers with more than 50 million world wide. Fans were pleased with its first scripted original series “The Mandalorian,” an addition to the Star Wars mythos, but some have begun to criticize the streamer for its relative lack of new content since its launch when compared to Netflix and Amazon Prime.
“Hamilton” doesn’t necessarily fill that gap, but it certainly is an excellent addition.
Last week we learned that director Christopher Nolan desired for his latest film “Tenet” to be the movie to re-open the North American box office on July 17, but it appears that the brand new Solstice Studios will beat him to the punch on July 1 by releasing the latest Russell Crowe-vehicle “Unhinged.”
Who knows how good the actual film will be, but the trailer certainly grabbed me by the lapels and smacked me with a headbutt. The movie is about road rage gone into overdrive with Crowe menacing a mother and her teenaged son to the nth degree.
It looks like just the type of thriller/horror movie that might act as catharsis for any pent up rage some of us might be dealing with thanks to social distancing and stay home directives.
In the category of I’ll believe it when I see it on the big screen, the oft-delayed X-Men spinoff film “New Mutants” has been given a new release date of Aug. 28 by Disney.
Disney inherited the movie in its acquisition of Fox last year. The film was originally set be released Aug. 18, 2018, but it was shifted to February of 2019 before again being pulled. Disney had planned for an April release this year, but the corona virus pandemic struck, shuttering all theaters.
Many fans thought Disney might debut the horror/super hero mash-up on VOD or its Hulu streaming platform or just bury the movie, which reportedly had a troubled production under Fox.
The trailer looks promising to me, so hopefully it will open this August, but like I said, I’m gong to have to be in my seat and watching it at the theater to believe it.