Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review: Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 27 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon (2012) – Video
Running time: 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Michael Gougen
WRITER: Michael Ryan; from a story b y Marly Halpern-Graser
PRODUCER: James Tucker
EDITOR: Kyle Stafford
COMPOSERS: Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis
ANIMATION STUDIO: Digital eMation, Inc.


Starring: (voices) Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey DeLisle, Mindy Cohn, Diedrich Bader, Dee Bradley Baker, Jeff Bennett, Gregg Berger, John DiMaggio, Nika Futterman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tara Strong, Fred Tatasciore, Mindy Sterling, and Billy West

Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon is the 19th movie in the Scooby-Doo straight-to-video series from Warner Bros. Animation. This series began in 1998 with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. In Mask of the Blue Falcon, Scooby-Doo and friends attend a comic book convention where they confront a monster terrorizing the convention.

Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon finds Mystery Inc.: Shaggy Rogers (Matthew Lillard), Fred Jones (Frank Welker), Daphne Blake (Grey DeLisle), Velma Dinkley (Mindy Cohn), and, of course, Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) solving their latest case. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are ready to take a break from mystery-solving and from being chased by monsters. Their destination of choice is the Mega Mondo Pop! Comic ConApalozza in San Pedro, California. Shaggy and Scooby plan to enter the convention’s costume contest, dressed as their favorite superheroes, the Blue Falcon (Shaggy) and Dynomutt the Dog Wonder (Scooby).

The gang arrives at the San Pedro Convention Center and finds the place packed with attendees in costumes, vendors with merchandise to sell, and even a bitter, faded actor. Owen Garrison (Jeff Bennett) was the original Blue Falcon, and he is angry that fans have forgotten him. Producer/director, Jennifer Severin (Nika Futterman) is re-launching the Blue Falcon franchise with an updated and darker movie, “The Blue Falcon Reborn: Dynomutt’s Revenge.” There is a new actor, Brad Adams (Diedrich Bader), starring as the Blue Falcon.

Meanwhile, one of the original Blue Falcon’s enemies, Mr. Hyde (John DiMaggio), begins terrorizing the convention and threatening to stop the premiere of the new Blue Falcon movie. Suspicion is directed at Garrison as the identity of the diabolical Hyde, but Shaggy and Scooby don’t believe it. Can this dynamic duo solve the mystery of Mr. Hyde or will they just end up being laughingstocks?

The Scooby-Doo animated television franchise is probably the signature creation of Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc., the former American animation studio that dominated American television animation for decades. Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon is like a reunion of old Hanna-Barbera characters and shows, especially those that appeared on Saturday morning network television in the 1960s and 70s. Of course, Blue Falcon and Dynomutt the Dog Wonder were the stars of Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, a half-hour segment of The Scooby Doo/Dynomutt Hour, which originally aired during the 1976-77 television season.

In fact, in one form or another, several Hanna-Barbera characters appear in Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon, including The Flintstones, Frankenstein, Jr., The Herculoids, Space Ghost, and Speed Buggy, among many. That may be why I like Mask of the Blue Falcon so much. While it is not great, I do think this movie is one of the better recent Scooby-Doo direct-to-DVD films. I am giving it a rating of 8 (of 10), which I translate to a grade of “A.” Perhaps, I should be a bit more conservative here, but I like this film enough that I could not see myself going to anything below a 7. That’s a Hanna-Barbera fan for you!

Anyway, Mask of the Blue Falcon’s animation is nice and has sharp colors (which is generally true of the series these last few years). The character animation is good, and while the characters’ motion is not as good as it is in feature animation, they never look clunky and clumsy.

What makes Mask of the Blue Falcon stand out is characterization. Mystery Inc. and many of the supporting characters have personalities, desires, goals, conflicts, etc. There is Scooby-Doo’s need to be a hero like Dynomutt, and Owen Garrison’s bitterness. Daphne’s obsession with a toy line, the “Littlest Fuzzies,” is a nice change of pace for the character. I did notice something peculiar. Whenever, Mayor Ron Starlin of San Pedro (Kevin Michael Richardson) was on-screen, the background music changed to some kind of gospel-inflected organ music. Was this to indicate that the mayor, who is African-American, is some kind of stereotypical, Black religious leader-type politician? A Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton type, hmm?

As character development and personality go, this is minute, simple material, but it’s a step-up from recent Scooby-Doo movies. So it’s not just nostalgia that makes me love this movie; Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon is quite good… even if it is not as good as I think it is. And I do want more like it.

8 of 10

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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