Legendary mouse detective Basil (voiced by Barrie Ingham), who just so happens to live at 221B Baker Street in London underneath a particularly famous human detective, is called into service to battle his arch nemesis the evil Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price). He’s kidnapped a genius toymaker (Alan Young) with designs on replacing the Mouse Queen (Eve Brenner) with a clockwork duplicate. Now it is up to Basil, his trusted comrade British Army Major and doctor David Q. Dawson (Val Bettin), a Basset Hound named Toby and the toymaker’s daughter Olivia (Susanne Pollatschek) to save the day, the group unprepared for the lethal villainy Professor Ratigan and his forces are prepared to inflict upon them.
Based on Eve Titus’ Basil of Baker Street series of books, Disney’s minor 1986 gem The Great Mouse Detective is a beguiling animated adventure young and old alike should both enjoy considerably. Fast-paced, filled with rousing visuals (most notably the astonishing Big Ben climax which helped begin the transition from hand-drawn animation to digital) and featuring a magnificent vocal performance from the late, great Vincent Price as the diabolical mad villain Professor Ratigan, the movie is a wonderful entertainment first frame to last that can’t help but make me smile no matter how many times I watch it.
Is it the greatest film in the Disney canon? No, not at all. By and large character development is slight, the emphasis tends to be more on action that it is on solving mysteries and the songs, save one notable exception, are largely forgettable. Yet the movie is just so much gosh darn fun, embracing both Titus’ source material as well as the legendary works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that obviously inspired her in such a way having nothing less than a good time while watching it is borderline impossible. The film is a kick in the (mouse) pants, and I for one am extremely delighted to finally have The Great Mouse Detective as part of my own hi-def library.
The Great Mouse Detective is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1.78:1/1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack along with French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and comes with optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Making of The Great Mouse Detective
· So You Think You Can Sleuth?
· “World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” Sing-a-Long
It’s not a lot, and nothing here is very long (the making-of featurettes barely 8 minutes), and for a movie that is as important in the Disney canon as this one is (it’s the bridge between hand-drawn and digital animations) one would have hoped the studio would have added more supplemental material to the Blu-ray.
I doubt the Disney renaissance that happened with (and after) The Little Mermaid would have been possible without the arrival of The Great Mouse Detective, and while this animated gem is second tier Disney that still makes it better than just about every other animated movie released at any time during the 1980’s (with a few notable exceptions). The studio’s Blu-ray presentation is great, not spectacular, just great, but even so that makes picking this disc up for the family library as elementary a decision as any you’re likely to make.