15/11/2013

Scooby-Doo Meets Batman (1972)

Film: Scooby-Doo Meets Batman
Release: 2002, Video
Starring: Casey KasemDon Messick, Olan Soule
Directed by: Joseph Barbera, William Hannah
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: This is a DVD release of two films from the series called "The New Scooby-Doo movies". In "The Caped Crusader Caper", Mystery inc. is enjoying a nice trip to the woods when they run into The Joker & The Penguin who have kidnapped the bumbling professor Flakey, trying to steal his newest invention. In "The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair", Mystery Inc. are on their way to a mystery club meeting when they run upon a counterfeit money operation being investigated by Batman & Robin. 

Hans' thoughts:

Let's turn back the clock to the 1970's, a time of more light-hearted superhero tales. Hannah-Barbera ruled the animated TV-industry, the defining version of Batman was starring Adam West, and Robin had yet to wear pants. During this time, one of most popular animated characters on TV was Scooby-Doo, and in 1972 this was celebrated with a TV-series consisting of 40 minute movies where Mystery Inc. met celebrity guest starts. People such as The Addams Family, The Harlem Globetrotters or as in this case: Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder! This is a double-feature, consisting of the two movies where Scooby-Doo would team up with the heroes while fighting The Joker and The Penguin.

The Caped Crusader Caper:

All of the Scooby-Doo movies play out basically like a longer episode of the original TV-show. Mystery Inc. is out on a camping trip in the woods as they run upon The Joker & The Penguin. Something you'll quickly notice is the huge difference in how this version of the characters look compared to how they look in modern movies and TV-shows. This was made way before Batman: The Animated Series which would come to define the Batman franchise with it's art deco noir-esque art style. Gone is the gothic scenery. In it place, we have the Batman characters very similar to how they looked in "The Adventures of Batman" and "The Superfriends", which were by the way also animated by Hannah-Barbera. As far as the classic "whodunit" goes, this is pretty much thrown out of the window immediately as The Joker and The Penguin is seen in one of the very first shots of the movie. This is kinda sad, as both Batman and Scooby-Doo are detective stories in their own right so a mystery that would require both of them could have held high potential for great writing. Instead we're treated to a lot of, sadly, bad running gags and really painful puns. That and alliteration, they really went overboard with the alliteration. Almost all of Penguins lines. What little funny jokes there are, are few and far inbetween and consists of physical comedy: one of Scooby-doo's strong sides. Why they decided to focus on sight gags is anyones guess, but it's a shame when you consider how strong the two properties were even then. Animation-wise the characters also tend to fall off model when making new facial expressions. This is particularly obvious with Scooby who seems to get almost a new look sometimes. IF you only have the attention span to watch one of these movies, I'd say this one was the one to skip.

The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair:

This is much more like it, opening once again like a classic Scooby-Doo episode this entire episode also feels much more like a story that befits both of the properties. Mystery Inc. is on their way to a Mystery fair when the Mystery Machine breaks down (mysterious, huh?). Coincidentally they stumble upon a group of counterfeiters and meet Batman & Robin, already on the case to stop them. This movie actually keeps around the actual mystery, though it may be a little easy to guess who the main culprit is, what exactly is going on and how The Joker & The Penguin is involved is a lot better. It's like a perfect balancing act between an old-school Batman action tale, and a funny Scooby-doo cartoon. The jokes are better, the lines are less repetitive and the slapstick is just great. It it such a contrast to the other movie and of such higher quality. The animation of the movie is also a lot more on character, while most of these shows were done with reused character cells (part of the marketing for Hannah Barbera cartoons was keeping a low budget due to reusing cells and backgrounds) there are also a lot of new art in this film, which keeps up with the original pretty well. Clearly a lot more effort was put into this piece than in the former. I also felt the voice work in this film was far less grating, in "The Caped Crusader Caper" one of the main characters is the bumbling professor Flakey whose gimmick was a really annoying speechpattern where he kept misspeaking. This film toned down the speechpattern jokes quite a bit asnd instead focused on one-liners and visual gags ("Sure Shaggy, we have Bat Milk and Cookies at the Bat-cave!" "..Bat-Milk?!")
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