THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE [1986/2012] [Blu-ray + DVD]
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 February 2015
THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE [1986/2012] [Blu-ray + DVD] [US Release] Disney’s Greatest Little Mystery in History! Mystery in the Mist Edition!
For the first time ever on Blu-ray, you and your family can unlock the clues and go on a great big adventure with Disney's clever little hero. From the creators of ‘THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG’ and ‘THE LITTLE MERMAID’ comes the greatest little mystery in history in this 2-Disc Combo Pack.
When the diabolical Professor Ratigan [Vincent Price] kidnaps London's master toymaker, the brilliant master of disguise Basil of Baker Street [Barrie Ingham] and his trusted sidekick Dawson try to elude the ultimate trap and foil the perfect crime.
With perfect picture, perfect sound and 2 ways to watch, Disney Blu-ray proves big heroes come in small packages! Narrated by Val Bettin.
Voice Cast: Vincent Price, Barrie Ingham, Val Bettin (narrator), Susanne Pollatschek, Candy Candido, Diana Chesney, Eve Brenner, Alan Young, Basil Rathbone (archive sound), Laurie Main, Shani Wallis, Ellen Fitzhugh, Walker Edmiston, Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Melissa Manchester and Frank Welker (Toby the Dog / Felicia the Cat) (uncredited)
Directors: Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, John Musker and Ron Clements
Producer: Burny Mattinson
Screenplay: Bruce Morris, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, John Musker, Matthew O'Callaghan, Mel Shaw, Pete Young, Ron Clements, Steve Hulett, Vance Gerry and Eve Titus and Paul Galdone (based on Basil of Baker Street book)
Composer: Henry Mancini
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Running Time: 74 minutes
Region: Blu-ray: All Regions and DVD: NTSC
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Many of the new releases of children's animated films, are so saturated with powdery sugar that one suspects just watching them will produce cavities. What a treat it is to see an animated feature that doesn't moralise or patronise young children, or drown them in bathos. With ‘The Great Mouse Detective’ the people Disney have gone back to the basics that have delighted children and their parents for half a century.
The story takes place in London in 1897. The star is Basil of Baker Street, a brilliant, arrogant and neurotic little Sherlock Holmes of a mouse who plays the violin and is determined, as much out of vanity as virtue, to defeat his evil archenemy, Ratigan. Ratigan uses his evil genius to try to conquer all mousedom. Dr. Dawson, a chubby somewhat blustery mouse aristocrat, recently employed on Her Majesty's Service in Afghanistan, becomes Watson to Basil's Sherlock and the two are engaged to help a poor little girl mouse get her father back. The father, a toy maker who is the film's working-class hero, has been kidnapped by Ratigan's peg-legged bat henchmen. The toy maker is forced to help with a nefarious plan to kill the mouse queen and put Ratigan in control.
Unlike many modern cartoons, this story does not take place in never-never land but in a real place, at a specific time. It makes reference to historical figures like Napoleon and literary ones like Sherlock Holmes, giving a much appreciated intellectual grounding. Instead of cheap magic tricks to solve all problems, Basil wins in the end by the force of his intelligence. ''Is there a chance to get her back?'' Dawson asks, disconsolate after the little mouse has been kidnapped by the bat. ''There's always a chance, doctor,'' says our hero, ''as long as I can think.''
Small children may be afraid of some of the bad characters, but the Disney Studio's gift for creating really nasty bad guys means that they are scary, but they will love the cute, brave mice and cheer their triumphs. Adults will enjoy the wit and style. This adult really appreciated Basil's straightforward approach. ''No one can have a higher opinion of you than I do,'' he says to Ratigan, the king of crime. ''And I think you are a slimy, despicable sewer rat.'' That's telling him!
Of course this isn’t always a good thing. While for the most part the animation is very fluid, especially the celebrated battle between Ratigan and Basil amidst the cogs and gears of Big Ben’s interior, because certain movements, such as when the dog Toby charges away from the camera towards the horizon, look awkward and jarring.
The animated film’s greatest strength comes through the bright, consistently entertaining vocal work; there isn’t really a weak link in the cast, with the possible exception of Susanne Pollatschek’s performance as Olivia. Barrie Ingham owns the role of Basil, evoking both the character’s intelligence, tenacity and egomania perfectly. As his trusted sidekick Dr. Dawson, Val Bettin (who would bring The Sultan to life six years later in ‘ALADDIN’), was perfectly cast as a character with a heart of gold who is mostly out of his depth. Of course, the film’s greatest performance comes from the late Vincent Price, whose Ratigan is the ultimate megalomaniac blowhard. Like all great villains Ratigan is immensely colourful, dominating the entire film and usually overshadowing the hero. It’s strange that Ratigan is never included when people talk about great Disney villains; he really is a memorable creation.
An entertaining albeit slight feature, ‘The Great Mouse Detective’ gives us an engaging caper plot with effective visuals and voice work. It’s an important entry in the Disney canon to return to for its historical status in the studio’s evolution. It stands as the film which corrected the company’s errors from the immediate past, and paved the way for the artistic explosion that was to come in the immediate future.
Blu-ray Video Quality – 'The Great Mouse Detective' gets a very decent quality restoration from Disney is a very solid 1080p encoded image, with a very nice 1.78:1 aspect ratio and will please fans with its relatively clean appearance. Colours are nice and bold though. Much bolder than I remember them being on the previous inferior DVD release. Colour fills are nice and solid, even with the heavy grain. There are a few colour fills that fluctuate in colour shades causing that part of the image to flicker just a tad. In my opinion, besides a few instances of noticeable scratches, it looks like the film had been nicely cleaned of any outside distractions and overall this Disney releases is a very solid presentation.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The Disney 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix certainly gives a very expanding and enjoyable listening experience, but doesn’t quite have the same effect as it did with 'Cinderella' or 'Snow White,' so giving 'The Great Mouse Detective' a decent audio mix that never has any really impressive moments of note. What you do get are lightly mixed rear channels that feature some ambient sound like when Basil and Dawson visit a crowded dive bar. A fight breaks out and you can hear some of the commotion playing in the surround channels. Dialogue is centred right up front and is clearly heard. I didn't notice any hissing or static on the mix. Everything sounded as clear as it possibly could. Overly loud sound effects were really the only aspect of this mix that I found a tad troublesome. They did drown out dialogue on a few rare occasions.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: So You Think You Can Sleuth? [480i] [1.33:1] [4:40] This is a mini-history of the detective in fact and fiction and then a brief mystery of the missing cookies caper for the viewer to solve.
Special Feature: Disney Songbook: The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind Sing-A-Long [480i] [1.33:1] [1:58] Here is provided with sing-along lyrics on the screen for viewers to sing along with Vincent Price as he extols the virtues of being the evil nasty Ratigan. Presented in full-frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio, this heavily truncated version of the song offers a chance to see what the film looked like pre-restoration and in pan-and-scan format.
Special Feature: The Making of The Great Mouse Detective [480i] [1.33:1] [7:52] We go behind-the-scenes with the making of the Walt Disney Animation and includes contributions from the likes of Roy E. Disney; Glen Keane [Supervising Animator]; Henry Mancini [Composer] and Phil Nibbelink [Animator]. We also get to meet the actors behind the voices of the characters in the animation film and they are Barrie Ingham [Basil]; Val Bettin [Dr. Dawson]; Vincent Price [Ratigan] and Melis Manchester [Bar Room Mouse].
Sneak Previews: Cinderella [Diamond Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD] [1080p] [1.77:1] [2:08]. Disney Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 [Blu-ray] [1080p] [1.77:1] [3:05]. Anti-Smoking Advert [1080p] [1.33:1] [3:05]. Disney Promotional Movie Rewards Advert [1080p] [1.77:1] [4:28] This section includes: Disney Parks Promo; Disney Secret of the Wings [Blu-ray + DVD]; Disney Cinderella II: Dreams Come True + Cinderella III: A Twist In Time [Blu-ray + DVD] and Disney PLANES [Blu-ray].
Finally, 'The Great Mouse Detective' will always be considered a second-tier Disney title to some critics, but I fell in love with this Disney Animation and now I love it even more now I have it on the ultimate Blu-ray edition and so in my opinion there is a lot to like about it. It's a much better prospect than say, the dismal and ghastly atrocious 'Home on the Range.' Plus again we get a very nice video transfer and totally solid audio, this one comes definitely top of my list. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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