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The Great Mouse Detective (1986) Movie Review

Great Mouse Detective Poster

Growing up watching cartoons on TV, you stumble upon something that becomes memorable to you because you enjoyed it. Some of us grew up watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Toy Story, or Bambi. I grew up fascinated and terrified by the story of The Great Mouse Detective.

And yup, this is not in the same universe as Ratatouille.

The movie begins when a renowned toy maker in the rat kingdom, right in the middle of London, Mr. Flaversham, is kidnapped, leaving his only daughter, Olivia, all alone. She goes to find Basil, a famous detective on Baker Street. However, she gets lost along the way and is seen by Dr. Dawson, a surgeon who just came home from Afghanistan. Both of them were able to locate Basil's home. He refuses at first, but when Olivia mentions that a one-legged bat kidnaps her father, he agrees to help them. Basil quickly deduces that the perpetrator is Professor Ratigan. Meanwhile, the professor works with Olivia's father to build a robotic replica of the mouse queen so he can replace her and rule the entire rat kingdom. Mr. Flaversham refuses to work with Ratigan, but he threatens him that he will harm his daughter if he doesn't cooperate.

Basil, Dawson and Olivia

Fidget, the one-legged bat, spies on them. Basil, Olivia, and Dawson rode with Toby, Sherlock Homes' Basset Hound to trail Fidget's scent. They trace him to a toy shop. While searching the area, Dawson finds his list, which includes toy soldier uniforms and clockwork mechanisms. Fidget kidnaps Olivia. Basil discovers that the list came from "Rat Trap," a tavern beneath the sewers. Both of them went to the place disguised as sailors and tracked Fidget. They followed him to Ratigan's headquarters but got ambushed by his henchmen. They tied Basil and Dawson to a perfectly designed trap to eliminate them. Ratigan sets off to Buckingham Palace to continue his plan. Hopeless and out of ideas, Dawson made some remarking words that inspired Basil, and they both escaped successfully.

At Buckingham Palace, Ratigan successfully abducts the queen. The real one is taken by his pet cat, Felicia. The toy queen declares Ratigan as the new king and reads several new laws that will be implemented. Basil and Dawson arrive and successfully rescues Olivia and The Queen. Toby fends off Felicia. Basil then controls the toy queen to disrupt Ratigan's plans and denounces him. The crowd is furious and starts attacking him. Ratigan escaped with Fidget and took Olivia hostage. Basil, Mr. Flaversham, and Dawson are in pursuit of using their makeshift aircraft. Ratigan threw Fidget to lighten the load. Basil jumped into Ratigan's aircraft, which caused it to crash into Big Ben's clock face. Basil successfully fends off Ratigan despite his superior strength and wit. He rescues Olivia and delivers her to Mr. Flaversham. Ratigan attacks Basil, and as the clock strikes 10, the shock from the bell makes them fall. Basil is able to use a part of Ratigan's aircraft and saves himself.

Ratigan and his minions

At Basil's home, Mr. Flaversham and his daughter thank them and leave. Dawson prepares to go, but Basil declares him as his new assistant when a new client arrives.

If you first watched this animated film when you were 6 or 8 years old, you instantly know that Ratigan is a terrifying villain. His design, demeanor, and attitude really strike me as someone to be feared. Honestly, he might be one of the scariest villains that Disney has created. The scene when Ratigan transforms from being just a massive mouse to a menacing rat is terrifying. During the clock tower scene, the animation enhances Basil and Ratigan's appearances, and their emotions show the gravity of their characters.

I like how the setting felt like a little world inside a big city. The wine bottles felt like prisons, and books could be made as makeshift aircraft, etc. I mean, the animation and design made this film very remarkable. Aside from the pretty obvious lighted parts, I think it is still quite good to see, considering the technology was not yet well-defined in the 80s.

Ratigan's terrifying transformation

The story is straightforward. It's funny, adventurous, and pretty good, I must say. I don't expect much about the story because it's only around 74 minutes long, so plot twists and backstories might be left out. Thankfully, the short runtime didn't ruin the plot. I still like it as it is.

The soundtrack masterfully combines with the characters. I still get goosebumps when Ratigan sings those songs while being terrifying at the same time.

Overall, I think The Great Mouse Detective is a pretty solid film. The story is well-paced despite having a short runtime. It may not be the movie that has transcended time like Cinderella or Lion King, but I still am very nostalgic about this film.

For all it's worth, I guess the movie deserves a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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