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Monday, January 22, 2018

Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2018) – Review

The Brave and the Bold was a comic series that ran between 1955 and1983 which paired various superheroes in one-shot adventures, then in 2008 the Cartoon Network took this team-up formula and brought to it television in a more comedic format yet unfortunately it only lasted two seasons, but lucky for us the cancellation of that show was not the end as the greatest team-up was you to happen, Scooby-Doo & Batman: The Brave and the Bold!

This is not the first time Mystery Incorporated crossed paths with the Caped Crusader for back in the 1970s they teamed up to match wits against The Joker and The Penguin in The New Scooby-Doo Movies, but this time out the Scooby Gang will find themselves mixed up in a mystery that contains a plethora of superheroes and supervillains. Can Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), Velma (Kate Micucci), Fred and Daphne (Grey DeLisle) possibly stand up to the likes of Killer Croc, Harley Quin and Two-Face?


Will Shaggy and Scoob get enough to eat?

The movie opens with Mystery Incorporated trying to uncover the mystery behind a series of robberies apparently committed by monstrous puppets, as evil puppets are want to do, and when the standard Fred Jones villain trap fails, is it is want to do, Batman (Diedrich Bader) shows up to save the day.  Unfortunately he's not there to help out but to take over “I go wherever puppet related crime rears its ugly head” and Batman tells the gang they should be hanging out at malt shops not loitering around condemned theaters.  Our teen heroes are not ones to be sidelined, even by someone as awesome as Batman, so they ignore the Caped Crusader and end up capturing Puppetto the Puppeteer all by themselves.  The real twist comes when it’s revealed that the culprits weren’t actually criminals but Martian Manhunter (Nicholas Guest) and Detective Chimp (Kevin Michael Richardson) in disguise. Turns out that the whole thing was a "set-up" to audition Mystery Incorporated to see if they deserved membership in an elite crime solving team, sadly it’s not the Justice League but something called The Mystery Analysts of Gotham which includes such mystery solving members as Black Canary (Grey DeLisle), Plastic Man (Tom Kenny) and The Question (Jeffrey Combs).


“So I guess this means no visits to The Watchtower?”

Being a tradition for new members to pick a case from the “Unsolved” cabinet the gang pick the sole unsolved case in Batman’s drawer (the other members seem kind of ticked that Batman only has one unresolved case) but the Caped Crusader shuts them down and refuses to even discuss why. Before anybody can get into they whys and wherefores of  Batman's reticence there is an alarm at a chemical factory and everyone rushes to scene of the crime where they find themselves face to face with a ghostly menace who calls himself the Crimson Cloak. This new villain seems to really have a bee in his bonnet when it comes to Batman and soon the Mystery Analysts of Gotham are fighting for their lives against a new and powerful foe. Will Scooby and the gang survive against a villain who can make even Justice League members run for cover? Is it possible this is a real ghost from Batman’s past? Or is it more likely that the Crimson Cloak is actually just old man Smithers the carnival caretaker?


“I will get away with this, despite those meddling kids!”

This is an incredibly fun animated movie with wall-to-wall references to the classic Scooby tropes from the 60s such Fred’s useless traps, Velma’s know-it-all manner, Scooby and Shaggy’s insane disguises and we even get the classic Scooby Gang hallway door-to-door chase, only instead your typical spooky mansion or haunted resort it’s in the heart of Arkham Asylum. There are some nice running gags like the Martian Manhunter constantly stealing Shaggy’s cookies and a really cool twist on Daphne’s character as she is no longer "Danger Prone Daphne" but is now shown to be quite smart and very brave.


No more being tied and gagged in closets for her.

The mystery itself is pretty cool with twists and turns and multiple unmaskings by Mystery Incorporated, which is all the more impressive when you take into account that for the bulk of the movie they are running from the law after being framed for the chemical factory robber. It’s not bad enough that they are dealing with a murderous ghost bent on revenge but Scooby-Doo and the gang also have keep one step ahead of Batman’s entire villainous rogues gallery, the Gotham Police Department led by an angry Harvey Bullock (Fred Tatasciore) and even their new friends from The Mystery Analysts of Gotham who seem to want them in custody.


Jinkies, could things get any worse for our young heroes?

That the world of Scooby-Doo and the world of Batman and The Brave and the Bold works so well together is a testament to how much director Jake Castorena and writers Paul Giacoppo and James Tucker must love these characters as one could consider this seventy-five minute movie to basically be a love letter to both Scooby-Doo and Batman. The voice cast is full of old and new talent, all doing a fantastic jobs here, but I must give a special shout out to Aquaman (John DiMaggio) who was my favorite recurring character in Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon and once again he steals any scene he is in.


“I shall call this the time I helped Batman defend a gang of juvenile delinquents.”

If you are a fan of either Scooby-Doo or the animated Batman shows I can’t recommend this movie enough as I laughed out loud and even clapped my hands like a giddy school boy at times, not something I’m prone to do while watching a movie, but by god was this thing fun.  You could almost play a drinking game of spot the references or obscure villain if one were so inclined. So rent, buy or steal…well don’t steal because then Batman would be on your case, and enter the technicolor streets of Gotham City as everyone’s favorite crime fighting dog and his friends team-up with some of DC's greatest heroes.


It doesn’t get much better than this.

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