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Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, John Musker
Vincent Price, Barrie Ingham, Val Bettin
Writing Credits:
Pete Young, Vance Gerry, Steve Hulett, John Musker, Ron Clements, Bruce Morris, Matthew O'Callaghan, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, Mel Shaw

Great mouse detective Basil investigates the kidnapping of a toy-maker and uncovers its link to his arch-enemy, Professor Ratigan.

Rated G.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 74 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 10/9/2012

• “The Making of The Great Mouse Detective” Featurette
• “So You Think You Can Sleuth?” Game
• Sing-Along Song
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Great Mouse Detective [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 13, 2020)

After the disastrous Black Cauldron in 1985, Disney’s animation division wobbled on the ropes. That flick was a costly experiment that failed in most ways, and it nearly killed the studio’s bread and butter.

Disney animation wouldn’t fully rise to its feet until 1989’s The Little Mermaid, but they started to snap back in 1986 with The Great Mouse Detective. A modest film in every sense of the word, the flick enjoyed a much smaller budget than did Cauldron, but it also suffered from much lower expectations.

A small-scale and genial little piece, Detective felt almost like a throwaway movie, but that was just what the studio needed. Detective didn’t become a blockbuster, but it provided a decent success with both audiences and critics at a crucial time and definitely contributed to the studio’s resurgence that would soon arrive.

Detective provides a simple narrative. The henchmen of evil villain Ratigan (voiced by Vincent Price) kidnap ingenious inventor Hiram Flaversham (Alan Young) for nefarious means.

His daughter Olivia (Susanne Pollatschek) seeks help and goes after master detective Basil of Baker Street (Barrie Ingham). Though initially resistant, the adorable little girl eventually convinces Basil to take the case, though it helps that Basil’s newly-acquired assistant Dawson (Val Bettin) takes her side.

From there the movie talks a fairly obvious path. Basil pursues leads to find out what happened to Mr. Flaversham - he doesn’t know from the start that his archenemy Ratigan is at work - and tries to solve the case. Once he and Ratigan meet, they battle wits, and Basil needs to use a number of clever ways to defang his foe.

Little about Detective strays from the genre’s essentials - except for the cast of animals, of course - but that works well for the film. Everything about the project seems unassuming, and given the occasionally overblown nature of some Disney projects, the smallness of scale comes as a relief.

Detective doesn’t aspire to be a rousing blockbuster. Instead, it simply wants to offer some modest entertainment for its brief running time.

However, I must admit this is both a blessing and curse, and on the negative side, Detective moves rather slowly at times. It picks up nicely during its third act, but the prior two could plod.

The animation also seems weaker than usual for Disney. Lip-synch looks off at times, and transitions often flow poorly.

In addition, colors change awkwardly during Ratigan’s production number. I have no doubt that the stylistic changes would have been less clumsy in other Disney flicks.

While I appreciate the modest tone of Detective, it does seem somewhat bland at times. The heroes all come across as likeable but little more, as they fail to create very distinctive personalities. The villains fare better, however, especially due to the lively and engaging performance by Price.

Ultimately, The Great Mouse Detective provides a generally enjoyable piece of work. The movie fails to become terribly vibrant or compelling, but it chugs along well enough to keep the viewer engaged.

Some of its charm stems from its small scale, as the film never tries to overwhelm the viewer. Instead, it’s just a reasonably charming little flick.

Footnote: the film has appeared under a number of different titles. Originally called The Great Mouse Detective in the US, Disney redubbed it The Adventures of the Great Mouse Detective for a Nineties reissue. I guess they figured the word “adventures” would pull in the kiddies.

For audiences in some places outside of America, it went by Basil: The Great Mouse Detective, a title closer to the original novel’s Basil of Baker Street.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B/ Bonus D

The Great Mouse Detective appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a good representation of the source.

When Disney takes on their higher-profile titles, they tend to run them through a pretty intense “clean up” process that eliminates grain. Colors can also be altered as well.

None of that happened for Detective, and that meant it lacked the shine and polish of the other efforts. Nonetheless, it offered a stronger document of how the movie looked when released.

Sharpness seemed good. Occasional instances of softness crept into wider shots, but the movie remained pretty well-defined over all.

Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I also noticed no signs of edge enhancement. As noted, we get some minor grain here, and print flaws remained absent.

Though virtually all of Detective took place at night, the film still boasted a reasonably varied palette, and the disc replicated those tones fairly well. The colors could lean a little dull at times, but they usually appeared well-represented.

Black levels seemed deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not overly thick. Overall, The Great Mouse Detective provided a satisfying visual presentation whose “flaws” related to the source.

While not quite as good, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Great Mouse Detective seemed pleasing. Given the age of the material, I didn’t feel surprised to discover that it emphasized the forward channels.

Within that domain, music showed nice stereo imaging and presence. Effects spread reasonably well across the front spectrum, and the elements moved acceptably naturally, but the score and songs remained the most prominent parts of the track. The rear speakers played a small role, as they mainly contributed general reinforcement of music and effects.

Audio quality was consistently positive. Speech usually sounded distinct and warm, without edginess or other issues.

Effects lacked distortion and occasionally showed nice life. For example, the stomp of Felicia the cat presented the appropriate low-end impact.

Sometimes the effects sounded a bit flat, but they worked well for the most part. The score and songs offered good range and dimensionality as well. This wasn’t a dazzling track, but it provided clear, vivid audio.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the prior DVD from 2010? The age of the material restricted growth for the audio, but the lossless mix felt a bit warmer and fuller.

As for visuals, they came with moderate improvements, though conversely, the superior capabilities of Blu-ray allowed the source’s limitations to become more apparent. Whereas the lower resolution of DVD hid some concerns, they were more obvious in hi-def.

Nonetheless, I preferred the Blu-ray. It looked cleaner and more vivid and a better representation of the original film.

Most of the 2010 DVD’s extras repeat here, and So You Think You Can Sleuth? offers a four-minute, 41-second history of detectives. Though the disc touts this as a game, it’s really nothing more than a featurette.

Yeah, the piece includes one case for viewers to solve, but that’s it. It’s weird that this is listed as a game, but the show itself is moderately interesting anyway.

The Making of The Great Mouse Detective provides a short and perfunctory featurette. It runs seven minutes, 53 seconds and brings comments from studio executive Roy E. Disney, supervising animator Glen Keane, actors Barrie Ingham, Val Bettin, and Vincent Price, singer Melissa Manchester, composer Henry Mancini, and animator Phil Nibbelink.

The program seems superficial and provides very little information about the production. We get a couple of decent tidbits but nothing particularly noteworthy.

Like many Disney DVDs, we find a Sing-Along Song here. This one accompanies Ratigan’s “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind”.

I never could figure out what someone so inclined couldn’t just turn on the movie’s subtitles to do this, but if you dig sing-along songs, have a party!

The disc opens with ads for Cinderella (1950) and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3. Sneak Peeks adds promos for Secret of the Wings, Planes, Cinderella II and Cinderella III. No trailer for Detective appears here.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Detective. It duplicates the 2010 DVD.

No one will ever confuse The Great Mouse Detective for classic Disney, but it succeeds better than most of their material from the 1970s and 1980s. The movie’s modest scope allows it to rely more strongly on character, and it seems unusually - and pleasantly - quiet and thoughtful. The Blu-ray brings pretty good picture and audio but it skimps on bonus materials. Nothing here dazzles, but Detective remains a likable tale.

To rate this film, visit the original review of THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE

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