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STUDIO:  Warner Bros.
MSRP:  $19.98
RUNNING TIME:  46 Minutes
•Set-Top Game

The Pitch

“It’s Scooby-Doo…with pirates!”

The Characters

Mystery, Inc and various other ancillary characters.

The Nutshell

Scooby and the gang go on a vacation mystery cruise and soon find themselves swept away in a high-seas mystery, complete with ghost-pirates, robots, meteors, time-travel, eccentric billionaires and astro-cartographers.

Yup – they heard it.

The Lowdown

With Jack Sparrow’s return to cinema screens (and subsequent DVD release) proving to be the most profitable thing in 2006, it’s not surprising to see direct-to-DVD franchises getting swept up in Pirate Fever.  One such franchise being the modernized adventures of Scooby-Doo and Mystery, Inc.

Generally, I really dislike these new incarnations of Classic Cartoon properties.  More often than not, they’re neutered and completely watered-down, playing to the lowest common denominator in the target audience.  I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing – stupid kids need stuff to watch too, but I hate that really smart, original characters are being raped in such a way.

It’s about damn time that Coolsville gave these kids the recognition they deserve.

So imagine my surprise when I found that this latest attempt was actually pretty close to capturing the original magic.  “Pretty close,” being the operative phrase.  It still felt a little dull, but it did manage to rationalize every single supernatural element, working it all into a multi-layered, semi-interesting and complex mystery that didn’t talk down to the people watching.  This is a big change from the last Scooby Movie I reviewed, in which plot elements were thrown out completely on a whim, only to be disregarded when they didn’t fit into the final solution.  It’s lazy, disrespectful filmmaking and I’m glad that those involved here didn’t fall into the same traps.  It’s still nowhere near the charm or quality of the original, but if they’re bound and determined to reboot a franchise, this is the direction they need to be going.
The Package

I don’t like the cover here much at all.  The colors are good, and the artwork is original (as opposed to a collage of snaps from the film), but there’s no flow, no composition.  Obviously it sells the film and capitalizes on the Pirate theme, but it’s boring pretty lame.
In the features, there’s a little remote-control set top game that, unlike its counterparts, is actually pretty fun and not near-impossible for the youngsters to play.  I think it may be the only one of these set-tops that I’ve actually gotten completely through.  I dig it.

Oh, looks like Fred just found a reason for the gang to split up – and we all know what THAT means.

All-in-all, this isn’t a bad disc to have, especially if your kid has Pirate Fever (like almost every person in America).  It’s not too terribly educational on the whole pirate mythos, but it’s still fairly fun and should at least get their question-generators going, leading to a date with an encyclopedia (or google, depending on how your family rolls) and that’s always a good thing.

OVERALL 6.0 out of 10