The Best of Scooby-Doo

Out of all the Hanna-Barbera properties, I find it hard to believe that it’s Scooby-Doo of all things to be so prominent and perennial.

While you’ll find the occasional new Tom and Jerry movie and you’ll mostly see other classic properties on reruns or as multivitamins, Scooby-Doo refuses to die. While the original series had its charm, since then the brand had to constantly reinvent itself in order to stay relevant, which often included adding or subtracting characters and having a different gimmick (like a movie where Shaggy and Scooby become monster racers, or where they go to a finishing school for ghouls). In modern times, there have been several different series launched every few years with different animation styles (some of them being hideous) and different themes but none of them would last long. And since 1998, there has been a series of direct-to-video movies that would release, on average, two movies a year.

You know how The Land Before Time brand gets derided for having too many movies? Well, Scooby-Doo (not counting the movies made in the 1970s and 1980s) has a total of 26 movies and counting. 26! And they get increasingly ridiculous. For example, did you know that KISS is still as relevant as ever and is totally a magic girl team now? Or that John Cena (who was a meme 2015 but not as popular now) can totally push a giant moving boulder out of the way to save the gang? There have even been a few attempts to make Scooby-Doo musicals. At any rate, this kind of shows that Scooby-Doo is mostly around to try to keep the Hanna-Barbera brand alive and get some money out of kids who still find Scooby and Shaggy’s antics funny. I mean when Disney dominates everything what else can you do? Still, I think this is proof that Scooby-Doo is way past it’s prime.

Now, I could be biased. I got to be honest: I’m not a fan of Scooby-Doo. I don’t really find the mysteries very good (the reveal is either too predictable or a total ass pull), and I feel that a lot of incarnations are bland, boring and/or too silly. Also, I just don’t see what’s so special about Scooby-Doo himself. He’s not cute or interesting. Everything he does to save the day is by coincidence or sheer luck. This is the main reason why I don’t understand why this franchise is as popular as it is; I can’t see the appeal in the main character. (The other characters’ appeal can change on a whim; Daphne can go from a vapid, fashion-obsessed damsel to a competent detective, there’s no consistency.)

That said, amidst the sea of far-fetched and ridiculousness, there are two movies that stand out as something very brilliant (I don’t have enough energy to invest in all the different series): Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island and Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost.

Scooby-doo-on-zombie-island.jpg Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost.jpg

With gorgeous animation (with darker shadings and attention to detail), rich atmosphere, awesome music, and updated character designs, these movies deliver clever stories with just enough silliness while having an edge to it to make it actually interesting.

Zombie Island is when the gang, in pursuit of real monsters, get more than they bargained for when they end up on an island in the Louisiana bayous. What makes it stand out so much is that it’s the first Scooby-Doo movie to actually take itself seriously, with some legitimately scary imagery and a good twist. Witch’s Ghost is my personal fave of the two because it contains the first appearance of the Hex Girls and Tim fucking Curry, as well as one of the most intense climaxes in a direct-to-video animated family movie.

It’s kind of sad that the Scooby-Doo brand reached its peak at the end of the 20th century but then did a 180 to become safe but stale. I feel like Scooby-Doo is going to need that edge again because the new movies are getting really poorly received, and if Warner Bros. wants to be a successful name in animation, they should start taking one of their oldest and dearest products more seriously. We’ll have to see if they’re interested in quality or if they only want a quick buck.


My Fave Movies of 2016 (so far)

Whew it’s been really inactive here for awhile. School has been sucking me dry. But now that I have reading week hopefully I can start posting more.

This is a post I’ve been saving for the end of the year but decided to do it now because why not.

My top faves of the year (in order from most to least) are Deadpool, The Jungle Book, Finding Dory, and Ghostbusters (hey, it’s a fun movie and Patty and Holtzmann are great characters). I’m not sure if I can really make a top five because while I did enjoy Kung Fu Panda 3 and Zootopia, I don’t really remember the former and whenever I rewatch the latter I have so many questions about it (I’ll explain eventually).

I have seen Captain America: Civil War and Kubo and the Two Strings but I did not like them. That’s all I’m going to say.

I also got to see Long Way North, a movie released last year but only got a limited release in North America just now. Not my fave, but it is decent, the animation has a nice style, and it really captures the hardships of living at sea and travelling the frozen arctic.

The only movie left I’m in a rush to see is Moana. We’ll see how it stacks up against these movies. I’ll also update this post with any other movies I might end up seeing before the year ends.

Preparation For Moana Review #2: Lilo and Stitch

Image result for lilo and stitch

Okay this isn’t a John Musker/Ron Clements movie and it came out before the Disney Revival, but since it’s the first Disney movie set in Polynesia with Polynesian characters, I thought it was appropriate to review this before Moana.

In the early 2000’s, Walt Disney Animation Studios was in a rut. With the rise of CG animation with Pixar and DreamWorks, Disney was struggling to keep their oldest and dearest studio relevant. Ultimately, a lot of movies released before the 2010’s turned out to be disappointments at best, bombs at worst, with one major exception: Lilo & Stitch.

With a small budget of only $80 million and earning a healthy $273 million at the box office and glowing reviews from critics, this movie was Disney’s biggest success that decade. As a result, this movie spawned a solid franchise, including a  TV series, an anime series, 3 direct-to-video sequels, theme park attractions (some of them still going on today), video games, and an abundance of merchandise. It has also been hailed as one of Disney’s more progressive franchises, featuring a non-white, non-traditional family with realistic, relatable struggles (and possible LGBT representation with Jumba and Pleakley). Because of all this, Lilo & Stitch is extremely popular with millennials, hailing it as their ultimate fave Disney movie and one of Disney’s best.

I remember seeing this movie a couple times as a child but not a lot (I did not own the VHS or DVD). I saw a few episodes of the TV show (when nothing else was on) but I did not see any of the sequels. So, I did not grow up with this film like everyone else did. Therefore, while I certainly do like the movie, I do think nostalgia value factors into the popularity a lot.

I find that, as an adult, I get totally invested in Nani and Lilo’s story, but I can’t really get invested in Stitch’s story or the aliens.

Nani is a stressed out young woman who lost her parents before she was really ready to be on her own, has to deal with her grief while also taking care of her lonely little sister (who may have some psychological problems from losing her parents at such an age, given how she’s eccentric and ostracized and how she NEEDS Nani). She struggles to make ends meet, things seem to get worse from day to day, and there’s a very real threat of losing her sister–the only family she has left–throughout the movie. The presence of a strange new pet only makes things worse. Holy SHIT. With all this going on, it’s really hard for me to want to care about a little blue alien!

It’s also really hard for me to buy the fact that this movie has aliens. I find it hard to believe that anyone would look at Stitch, go “oh that’s just a weird looking dog” and not have any questions (also why would you put a dog you thought was dead in the kennel with other dogs?). And I cannot believe for a moment that Jumba and Pleakley’s disguises would’ve fooled anyone. How do the aliens speak perfect English, and why do they refer to themselves as aliens?

Well, ultimately the aliens are there to make the film more kid friendly. Stitch is there for the kids to sympathize with. Nani is there for the parents to sympathize with. Ergo, this makes Lilo & Stitch a great family film (despite the plotholes); it has the alien comedy and action for the kids and the human drama and tragedy for the adults. Though it makes it a little hard for me to watch on my own. Watching it as an adult without having grown up with it (and not having any kids of my own), I see a movie trying to string two completely different stories together, and I find myself gravitating towards one half but not the other.

So, while I can’t really call Lilo & Stitch my fave, I cannot call it a bad film. It has beautiful animation and music and, again the human side of the story is brilliant. It’s touching, it’s moving, it’s realistic, and it’s done very maturely. You don’t see that a lot in animated family films. And while I don’t really like the alien side of the movie, I do appreciate the themes of finding your family and going beyond your purpose. I guess ultimately if I could just tweak the film a little bit, I’d call it a fave. But as it is, Lilo & Stitch is a movie I greatly appreciate, and does deserve the success it got.