It’s been a long time since the Scooby-Doo brand was resurrected with 1998’s Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island; several tv series, live-action movies, and a failed CG animated film have not sullied the good name of the talking dog. Now on it’s thirty-fifth instalment the straight-to-video series goes at a strong pace.
The Sword and the Scoob isn’t anything particularly amazing, the Mystery Inc. gang find themselves in Arthurian times and must battle Morgan le Fay and monsters while Shaggy goes missing. The joy has never been in the plotting of these animated movies but instead in the characters. Frank Welker can do Fred in his sleep and has been voicing him since the start, while Grey Griffin and Matthew Lillard are so perfect for the roles you hope they never retire from them. Kate Micucci is great voicing Velma imbuing her with the right amount of irony.
The main sticking point is that Welker is still a poor fit for voicing Scooby-Doo himself, his voice is so far removed from Don Messick’s original, you end up wishing they had kept Scott Innes for all the films. Even so, Nick Frost voicing Merlin is an inspired choice and offers plenty of schtick for him to sink his teeth into.
The film lacks the snappy fast paced feel of the series, yet in its feature length incarnation it doesn’t have the same building tension that the original four films had, despite the inclusion of real monsters. There’s never a sense of a real unfolding mystery, save for trying to find where Shaggy went. All in all, it’s a fun film, without much in the way of invention. Which is arguably the point, no one watches a Scooby-Doo movie expecting to be shocked or surprised, and this film doesn’t do that.
The animation itself is perfectly adequate, it feels more like a Saturday morning cartoon that happens to go on a bit long than it ever does an actual film. It’s zippy and bright without ever having that lovingly created animation style previous entries had. Unfortunately, the writing is also woeful in parts, it doesn’t have much in the way of wit, and plays to the broadest incarnations of each respective character.
With all that said, it’s a fun entry into the canon. Even if it lacks interest in the new characters, nor manages to offer much emotional heart to the ones that made the brand so beloved to begin with. The Sword and the Scoob sits as a distraction until the thirty-sixth film is released in the latter half of the year. Its intent being to quell young children for an hour with enough food munching and hyper running to tick the requisite boxes for the series. Neither Zoinks, nor Jinkies.
Dir. Maxwell Atoms, Christina Sotta, Mel Zwyer
Scr. Jeremy Adams, Maxwell Atoms
Prd. Maxwell Atoms, Spike Brandt, Jim Krieg, Colin A.B.V. Lewis
Cast. (voice) Matthew Lillard, Frank Welker, Grey Griffin, Kate Micucci, Jason Isaacs, Nick Frost
Music. Robert J. Kral
Runtime. 73 minutes