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Daphne & Velma (2018)

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/22/2018

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/12/2018

I came of age during the dawn of the action figures. These toys allowed kids (and, let's face it, some adults) to act out new adventures based on their favorite movies and TV shows. It's not a great leap to suggest that this kind of imaginative play lead to modern-day fan-fiction. It's clear that Hollywood isn't immune to this kind of thinking, as they love to roll out new stories featuring old character. These reboots and re-imaginings often take classic characters and set them in new situations and change important details. An example of this would be the newly released Daphne & Velma.

Daphne Blake (Sarah Jeffery) and Velma Dinkley (Sarah Gilman) have become online friends, as they enjoy discussing mysteries and debating about the existence of ghosts and monsters. When Daphne learns that she will transferring to Ridge Valley High, the school that Velma attends, she is very excited, but Velma doesn't seem to share her enthusiasm. When Daphne arrives on-campus, she's fascinated by the school, which has abundance of cutting-edge technology, thanks to tech guru Tobias Bloom. However, Daphne also soon learns that some of the kids at the school act very strange. Eventually, Daphne and Velma team up to try and find out what is happening to their classmates.

Since the debut of Scooby-Doo: Where are You! in 1969, Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. have gone back to the well many, many times to milk numerous projects from this one source. From Saturday-morning cartoons, to live-action films, to direct-to-video movies, to various television reboots, Scooby-Doo and the gang have appeared pretty consistently in media for nearly 50-years. The connecting thread between these projects has been the presence of Scooby-Doo himself. Even when all five members of "Mystery Inc." weren't around, Scooby was still front and center. Daphne & Velma marks a departure from this model, as Scooby-Doo is nowhere to be found and the story (supposedly) takes place before "Mystery Inc." was formed.

Given the various Scooby-Doo projects which we've seen over the years, the existence of Daphne & Velma isn't necessarily surprising. What is somewhat bewildering is how all-over-the-place this movie is. There are a few subplots here, which seem to be attempts at character development. When we first meet Daphne, we learn that things always go her way, something which keeps her very positive. As noted above, Velma acts very cold towards Daphne when they finally meet in the flesh, supposedly because Velma didn't want Daphne known was here real-life life was like. The fact that the two aren't together from the outset feels like an odd, unnecessary plot-point. The movie's "mystery" often takes a backseat to the film's focus on Daphne and Velma, a focus which still feels very shallow.

As for the mystery, this is another place where Daphne & Velma veers off of the tracks. Some of the students are Ridge Valley High are acting out-of-character, while others have disappeared. This is incredibly cliche, but it is a good jumping-off point for a story. However, the movie doesn't seem to know what to make of this story, as it gets wilder and wilder as the film progresses. I don't go into a movie like Daphne & Velma expecting a documentary, but the finale and the reveal are very far-fetched, presenting an explanation that even young viewers will find hard to buy.

There's no doubt that, even today, there is a large base of Scooby-Doo fans out there. But, are they jonesing for a movie which offers only Daphne & Velma? And, if so, is this the movie that they would want. The casting is somewhat odd. Jeffery does not look like how I would picture a real-life Daphne, but she brings a lot of energy to the role and has pretty-good comedic timing. Gilman sort of has the right look for Velma (actually, she looks like me in a black Prince Valiant wig, but that's beside the point), but she takes the who sad-sack thing to far. Velma may be a nerd on the show, but she never sounds like Eeyore. Daphne & Velma has a nice look and a good amount of enthusiasm, but it is simply too unfocused and strays a bit too far from Scooby-Doo-world for its own good.

Daphne & Velma presents a surprisingly upbeat look at high school on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 24 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fantastic, as the movie presents many bright, bold tones, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the depth works well. This clearly isn't a big-budget movie, but the picture does it justice. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track delivers some nice surround sound effects, especially those which highlight spooky sounds coming from around the school. The music heard in the movie provides some obvious subwoofer effects.

The Daphne & Velma Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. "Daphne & Velma: A New Ambition" (5 minutes) provides an overview of the movie and focuses on the idea of pushing the female characters from Scooby-Doo to the forefront. This includes some on-set footage and interviews with the cast and the creative team. "An Updated Classic Mystery" (5 minutes) examines the film's story and looks at how the mystery compares to those seen in the classic shows. "Iconic Styles of Daphne & Velma Reimagined" (6 minutes) has Costume Designer Kara Saun discussing how she took cues from the cartoons to create the clothes for the main characters. The final extra is a 6-minute "Gag Reel".

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long