Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island
Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island purports to take us back to the scene of one of the most popular Scooby-Doo mysteries of all time, originally visited in Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island all the way back in 1998. The film undoubtedly means well, but your mileage will definitely vary as to how well you receive this sequel.
First off, let me say that I have been a fan of Scooby-Doo and Mystery Inc. since before I can remember. Moreover, I am among those who can remember when the original Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island premiered on television, and at the time it was advertised as a really big deal. I've seen a number of Scooby-Doo TV movies since then, but none has ever really lived up to the genuine terror that the first Zombie Island inspired in me. That's why, when a sequel was announced earlier this year, I was excited at the idea that there was more to the story of Zombie Island than we were initially led to believe.
Well...after sitting through that...spectacle...the first word that comes to mind is disappointment. It's been a really long time since a film has let me down this badly, and it hurts because I was really looking forward to this one. Where do I even start with the problems I have with this film? First of all, most of the tension is dissipated about halfway through the film via a plot twist that left me genuinely baffled, as in "what the frack just happened?" For the record, there is a hint of genuine danger from a familiar source, but it's never properly developed or expanded upon, and it frustrated me beyond belief when the film let it go without a proper explanation.
But what bothers me the most about Return to Zombie Island is how lightly everything is treated. Given this is a sequel to Zombie Island, a genuinely scary story, I was expecting a Scooby-Doo story that was just as scary, or at least tinged with a decent amount of drama. This film, however, ultimately destroys any ounce of scariness it manages to create, and honestly the film feels more like a parody of Zombie Island rather than a true sequel.
I also couldn't help but notice how much the animation has changed from 1998 to now, and the comparison is not flattering for the latter film. Early in the story, there are flashbacks to the original film, with footage spliced in, and the difference in the animation is immediately noticeable. I knew the animation style had changed over the years, but I didn't realize it had changed so much, and it was a little hard for me to focus on the story after getting a glimpse of what these movies used to look like. By the time this movie came to an end, I was actually happy to see the credits start to roll.