English, Spanish, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired
Featurette - Making-of The Great Mouse Detective
Photo gallery - Scrapbook
Karaoke - The World's Greatest Criminal Mind
2 Short film - Clock Cleaners, Donald's Crime
Basil, The Great Mouse Detective
Buena Vista/Buena Vista .
R4 . COLOR . 72 mins .
G . PAL
Before the cute and fluffy invasion of Experiment 6-2-6 and the visual treat to the plains of the Kings in Africa, not to mention the underwater antics of Ariel and the carpet-riding fun in “A Whole New World”, was Basil, The Great Mouse Detective, Disney’s 1986 feature-length film. This is in the days before Pixar and computer animation reigned supreme, when the true talent lay within the drawing hand of the animator, and the painstakingly lengthy process of animating approximately 108,000 frames by hand, based on 25 frames per second for 72 minutes.
Recently with Disney’s Lilo and Stitch and Treasure Planet, traditional cel animation techniques were combined with three dimensional computer animation to create a totally new style and sense of realism, something that was started with Basil back in the late ’80s which was the first use of this technology in a feature-length animated film. At times the primitive technology looks more like stop-motion animation than CG work. But nevertheless, the inclusion of the computer-generated cog workings in the chase scene really gives the scene a complex and busy atmosphere, adding to the excitement of the sequence.
Basil, The Great Mouse Detective tells the story of Basil (duh), who resides at 221½ Baker Street in Old London, and is the mouse equivalent of Sherlock Holmes. However, Basil has his work cut out for him after a kidnapping by Fidget, under the orders of Basil’s archenemy Professor Ratigan (voiced perfectly by Vincent Price), occurs where the only witness is the kidnapper’s daughter, Olivia, who ventures out in search for Basil to help her find her father. So with the help of Dr. Dawson (and no, not Creek) and the playfully cute bloodhound Toby, Basil is on the search to find his arch-enemy and bring this dirty rotten scoundrel down. Simple enough, but remember its made for the kiddliewinks.
Ah the good ol’ days – traditional cel animation before the intrusive invasion of the electronic era. Basil is presented in the widescreen aspect of 1.66:1, showing small black bars at each side of the 16:9 enhanced transfer. While animation gives DVD the chance to shine, this transfer just falls below the mark with the finer points. Colours are relatively bright, but just look a tad dingy and dull at times, giving the image a rather lifeless feel. Black levels are spot on, with no low level noise spotted at all. The colour blocks are solid and perfectly shaded, with no posterisation or blocking whatsoever.
Ah the Queen from Alice In Wonderland gets a facelift.
Film artefacts skim through the transfer constantly but aren’t too distracting, and a lovely wash of grain accompanies these. These two effects reduce the quality of the image, and at times the image just looks a little messy and raw, but hey, keep in mind it is a 1986 film. Some jagged aliasing scrapes through the transfer with some aggressive cases, but nothing too horrendous or disturbing. It’s just a pity that the cover image is clear, neat and tidy with bright colours, because the transfer just lacks that vibrancy and excellence. Sigh.
I can see my house from here!
The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is relatively neat, offering very little in the way of 5.1-ness. Dialogue is crisp and clear (bar accents) and comes from the centre speaker. At times some synch issues skip through, but nothing that is too obvious or freakishly disturbing for the kiddliewinks. Surround channels get a very slight echo workout, but offer very little in the way of power or interest. Likewise, the woofer of a box rarely raises its head (unlike the adorable Toby) and just vaguely supports the score from Henry Mancini, which is suitable, and subtly floats over the action with nothing terribly remarkable or memorable.
Disney’s animated (ha!) 16:9 enhanced menus are simple and suitable, with a fantastic clear navigation making it a cinch for the kiddliewinks to use. But honestly, animation is a slightly abused term, as the only example here is some slight movement of some simple leaves. Ooooh, tricky!
But anyway, first up we have The Making of The Great Mouse Detective Featurette which runs for nearly eight minutes and is a welcome inclusion given the age of the film. Presented in a full frame aspect, this featurette gives a general and concise rundown of the film, and features some interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of the animation process.
Next up are two short cartoons, Clock Cleaners and Donald’s Crime running for approximately eight minutes each. These two shorts date back a fair way, well beyond the years of this reviewing team, to the '30s and '40s, and feature very dirty and scungy video transfers with equally appalling soundtracks. OK, they are over 50 years old, but still a little restoration would be nice. These two inclusions are great for the kiddliewinks as they offer some classic Disney cartoons to entertain the rugrats for a little bit more than Basil’s short duration.
So now after the kids have been quiet for nearly 90 minutes, its time to hear the screaming, ah sorry, singing, as they squeal along to the Disney Songbook karaoke song of The World's Greatest Criminal Mind. Presented in a full frame aspect, the video quality looks very NTSC-ish, and the audio is suitable in its 2.0 DD format.
And finally the Disney Scrapbook has been thrown in, which shows 47 images covering pastel concepts and development over 15 selectable thumbnail pages. These are a welcome inclusion, and are set out in an easy-to-use format, something very rarely seen in large galleries.
The Disney team have done it again with another animated gem to entertain the whole family. It’s not in the blockbuster league of other Disney releases, but still holds some appeal for the kiddliewinks and is a welcome addition for their own DVD collection. So next school holidays, if you’re after some peace from the screams, grab this DVD with the kids in front of the box and get yourself a special treat – hey, you’ve got over an hour of my-time to get through, so enjoy it!