- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The legendary Mystery Inc. gang debuts in the ultra-high definition format for home theaters audiences to enjoy their latest animated adventure in Scoob! (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Rated PG, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 90 minutes, $44.95).

Tapping into a pop culture history of more than 50 years, the clearly beloved team of Fred Jones (voiced by Zac Efron), Daphne Blake (Amanda Seyfried), Velma Dinkley (Gina Rodriguez), Shaggy Rogers (Will Forte) and famed Great Dane Scooby-Doo (mainstay Frank Welker) not only offer viewers a definitive origin of their crime-solving work but introduce many a selection of classic Hanna-Barbera characters into their universe.

The story begins with Shaggy and Scooby first meeting as child and pup then solving a quick inaugural mystery with new friends Fred, Daphne and Velma on Halloween.

A jump to the present finds, after a confrontation with Simon Cowell and some nasty robotic scorpion bowling pins, Shaggy and Scooby teaming up with the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), Dynomutt the Dog Wonder (Ken Jeong) and Dee Dee Skyes (Kiersey Clemons) to stop the nefarious plans of Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs).

Yes, that Dick Dastardly who used to hang out with a scruffy dog named Muttley in the late 1960s and had a criminal cartoon career in road rally racing.

The entire gang eventually reunites to confront Dastardly, looking to use Scooby-Doo to open a portal to the Greek Underworld.

Although one can appreciate the stream of appearances, including a lifelike recreation of Captain Caveman (Tracy Jordan), and I believe I saw a Hong Kong Phooey arcade machine, the movie plays out like an episode of a 1970s variety television show sans the musical numbers and a bit like ” Legends of the Superheroes.”

Well, that’s fun for adult, Hanna-Barbera pop culture geeks, but the shenanigans might grow tiresome for new young inductees into the Scooby-Doo fan club looking for a simpler, less character-crowded mystery to appreciate.

4K in action: Prepared but never realized for a 3D theatrical release due to coronavirus pandemic restraints, the film’s digital negative transferred to an ultra-high definition format benefits greatly from its computer-animated origins and use of high dynamic range enhancements.

The home theater effect delivers characters with such polished skin, textured clothing and life-like hair that they appear like living action figures onscreen.

I’ll point to a young Daphne in a shiny metallic Wonder Woman Halloween costume with flowing red hair and florescent green eyes or the equally crisp Blue Falcon boasting shiny gold gauntlets and boots and a feathered metallic torso armor.

Most impressive is the digital recreation of the classic Mystery Machine van that under those dynamic enhancements looks like a functioning die-cast model.

Also, longtime fans will admire a nostalgic remake of the original opening credits of the cartoon series, now pumped up with digital magic, that gives a new, lifelike perspective on villains such as the Creeper, Spooky Space Kook, Charlie the Robot.

The three-dimensional qualities shine throughout, and although not quite as screen-popping and hue intense as the recently released “Trolls: World Tour,” it still presents a colorful universe and worthy update to the Scooby-Doo cartoon experience.

Best extras: “Scoob!” is a bit thin on the bonus content but shines with director Tony Cervone’s 10-minute detailed art lesson that teaches youngsters how to draw Scooby-Doo.

Viewers also get a brief, six-minute, information-packed primer that offers breakdowns and history of the Hanna-Barbera characters brought into the Scooby-Doo film including Blue Falcon, Dynomutt, Dee Dee Skyes, Dick Dastardly and Muttley.

Rounding out the extras are four minutes of bloopers with the voice-over cast and 20 minutes of deleted scenes (each introduced by the director and in an unfinished, storyboard format).

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