Film: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.
Directed by: Jim Stenstrum.
Running Time: 73 min.
This is a direct to video Scooby feature that was done in honor of the original Scooby-Doo voice actor Don Messick, and one of the first of the revamped series of animated Scooby-Doo animations. It has been well received by fans and critics alike with a decent promotional gimmick of “this time the monsters are real” and smartly premiered it on Cartoon Network on Halloween.
Scooby’s mysteries have long been an iconic part of many childhoods for many of the adults out there, and seeing it made into a contemporary feature that showed a great deal of obvious effort and attention on part of the filmmakers, especially for a direct to video at the time, made this film a particularly fond 90’s recall.
So does it still hold up today?
There is just something about animation before Flash came along, a sort of fluid liveliness and detail that was its own work of art. This was a movie that had some of that great animation style that came out of the 90’s. It blended the iconic features and look of the traditional 1970’s Scooby-Doo cast with a more contemporary liveliness, with particularly good attention to the use of light and shadow and fluidity that gave it a slightly darker, more atmospheric tone.
The music utilized was a mixed bag in terms of good and bad though. With the use of an instrumental musical score closer to what you would find on a decently made horror feature, it added a nice enhancement to that darker theme. Unfortunately the pop songs in contrast took you out of the moments of the action.
From the characterization end of things, they were all somewhat decent, and their matured age was somewhat interesting to see when you were a kid having only been exposed to the mystery solving teenager versions from the original material. There is more adult concerns on part of Daphne, who seems to be the most matured of the lot, though the rest of the cast weren’t all that different in personalities from their original source materials.
From the story end of things, this was a decently paced plot, a good use of exposition without being annoying, with a few twists for the kiddies and adults both to enjoy, a surprisingly mature moment of empathy with the antagonists near the end, and some decent humour that despite being somewhat of a zany source material with some zany characters, was able to retain that excellent balance of mystery and humour thats made it so popular as a franchise.
The only drawback story-wise was that Velma’s obvious suspicious looks gave away some of the mystery before its time, and the utilization of an extra supernatural creature seemed a bit out of nowhere.
All in all, while it did have some weak moments here and there, those moments don’t overwhelm the good parts with its solid atmosphere, tension, plot progression, and excellent animation. This was arguably one of the best Scooby-doo features that came out after the original show, still holding up even to today’s standards, and well worth a watch for the family for Halloween.
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