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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Mystery > Musical > The Great Mouse Detective – Mystery In The Midst Edition (1986/Disney DVD)

The Great Mouse Detective – Mystery in the Midst Edition (1986/Disney DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B-     Film: B



Prior to Disney coming back into their own and hitting it big with blockbusters like The Little Mermaid or Aladdin or The Lion King it was making interesting films like The Great Mouse Detective.  I would call The Great Mouse Detective a mid-level Disney film, as it is memorable and fun, but not the studios best.  Originally premiering in 1986 as Disney’s 26th feature length animated film it was met with general praise and good box office return.  What The Great Mouse Detective did do for Disney was beyond the film itself.  While the animated features that were released in the few years prior to Mouse Detective were met with mild success, overall they left Disney in a state of financial uncertainty; wondering how profitable animated features were.  The Great Mouse Detective netted a profit that would reinvigorate Disney in both finances and confidence to green-light the making of The Little Mermaid.  Giving credit where credit is due, Disney later hired directors of Mouse Detective John Musker and Ron Clements to direct both The Little Mermaid and Aladdin (amongst others).  So while I do love The Great Mouse Detective as a film with its on merits, I appreciate it even more for what it did for the studio.


The film, based on the children’s book Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus, follows Basil the mouse detective (voiced by Barry Ingham) as he takes on a case after a young Scottish mouse named Olivia lands on his doorstep.  Olivia’s grandfather has just been captured by a peg legged bat named Fidget who works for Professor Ratigan.  Ratigan is looking to rule all of England by having Olivia’s grandfather (a toy maker by trade), create a clockwork replica of the mouse queen.  At first Basil is reluctant, but persuaded by the idea of finally capturing the evil Professor Ratigan (voiced by Vincent Price) Basil jumps into action.  The film sets out on an adventurous journey that mixes Sherlock Holmes’ sleuthing with Disney charm perfectly.  It is fun, captivating and memorable for sure.


Overall, I am surprised that this film does not come up more often.  The characters are brilliantly done as they propel the story forward with ease.  The animation is not recycled as had been done in previous feature films and instead embodies its own brand of creativity.  The Great Mouse Detective is certainly a forgotten Disney classic that deserves more credit.  I would most definitely place this on my top ten Disney list.


The technical features of this release are not perfect as the film has not received much restoration treatment.  The picture is a 1.78 X 1 Widescreen that has solid blacks, but the colors were not vivid enough and there was a thin layer of grain throughout.  The image was in no way blurred and for the most part crisp, but it was obvious that this was not a Disney Platinum or Diamond release.  The sound is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound that is nice, but not as immersive as needed for the film.  The dialogue was crisp and clean, but directionality was lacking and ambient noises were only mildly emphasized.  So in the end I hope to see this film on Blu-ray with the treatment it deserves.


The extras are either useless or recycled junk.  Extras include a new “So you think you can Sleuth” Game; The Making of The Great Mouse Detective; “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” Sing-A-Log; Dylan & Cole Sprouse: Blu-ray is Suite!; Learn How to Take Your Favorite Movies on the go.  The game is a waste of time and the ‘making of’ segment is recycled from the last release as is the sing-a-long featurette.  The last two extras are merely promoting buying Blu-ray and Digital copies; in turn adding nothing to this release.  I may be able to excuse bad extras, but not transferring the great extras from the previous release like Mickey and Donald cartoons or the concept are is simply ridiculous.


An interesting note for this release, however, is that the original title card reading The Great Mouse Detective was reinstated; instead of using the 1992 title card of The Adventures of the Great Mouse Detective as was used in previous releases.


In the end, if you do not own the previous release of The Great Mouse Detective than now is the time to rediscover a classic.  For those who have the previous release I would say hold out for Blu-ray as this release adds little to the film, even with the minor picture upgrades.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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