From the creators of The Princess And The Frog and The Little Mermaid comes the greatest little mystery in history. 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 (Val Bettin) try to elude the ultimate trap and foil the perfect crime.
It’s a no-brainer idea. Of course the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, would have a mouse equivalent living in Baker Street. Of course this mouse would take on unsolvable cases, and be caught up in dangerous mysteries, just like his full-sized counterpart, it makes perfect sense!
This somewhat forgotten Disney classic brings us a wonderful interpretation of Holmes, every bit as self-obsessed and socially handicapped as everyone’s favorite version of the character, played by Jeremy Brett. Naturally Basil also gets to roam the fog-filled, moody streets of London, perfectly rendered here in ink and paint, and fight a formidable villain in the unsightly shape of the rat Professor Ratigan (voiced by Vincent Price).
The visuals are gorgeous, the bad guy is scary as hell (he feeds unlucky henchmen to a massive cat!) and the film is just a perfect little symphony of entertainment, which even a few misguided songs can’t spoil.
The Great Mouse Detective suffered the same fate as that other great alternate take on the famous sleuth, Young Sherlock Holmes (1985); none of them ever got a sequel. Perhaps that’s a good thing, but I’m not sure. I really, really wanted to tag along on this mouse’s next adventure.
Audio & Video:
Initially The Great Mouse Detective looks a bit rough and fuzzy, but on closer inspection it would seem that this is primarily due to the stunning high-def presentation of every single flaw in the original material. Iffy ink lines and inconsistencies in the coloring are right in our face. It’s a bit jarring, until you get used to it. The colors are certainly jumping off the screen, and actual print damage seems minimal. It’s hard to tell without reference material, but my guess is that this is as good as the film is ever going to look.
The DTS 5.1 surround track is perfectly fine, but rather limited in terms of surround effect.
The film is presented in a 1,78:1 aspect ratio, which seems to include a bit more information on both sides of the image, compared to my old 1.66:1 DVD.
This double package contains both a DVD and a Blu-ray. That’s not a special feature anymore, it’s the least we expect.
A short featurette (7:52) provides a brief intro to the film, with a few glimpses of the voice actors. Another featurette (4:49) promises to teach us how to think like a sleuth. It’s a fast-paced, unbelievably obnoxious, Disney Channelesque fluff piece. I’m tempted to reduce the rating because of it. A Sing-Along song and a few previews round out this region free disc.
The Great Mouse Detective is a delightful and charming experience. At 74 minutes, it’s the kind of movie you might consider watching twice an a row, just to stay a little longer in that marvelous universe. Elementary viewing!
Extra Features: C-