My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is entertaining. Yes, it is cheap looking, and yes, it is not the most memorable, but for what it is, it has a lot of charm. The characters are likable, though not really developed, and the plot is decent enough. The film, does suffer in the animation and music department though.
The studio was focusing more on The Black Cauldron at the time, and Michael Eisner became head when this film was in production. He slashed the budget for this film in half; leaving $10 million to make the film. 2 animators that were dropped from The Black Cauldron, their names being Ron Clements and John Musker (who would be the famous duo that would go on to make movies for the studio for 30 years) produced this film.
Olivia was going to be an older character, and to most likely be a lover of Basil, but they aged her down to a child to gain more sympathy. This film was in development for 4 years, starting production in 1982.
The fight on the big Ben is one of the earliest examples of early CGI, but it was still only used for minor effects.
So we are in 1897 London, and a little girl named Olivia (Susanne Pollatschek) celebrates her birthday with her toy-maker father named Hiram (Adam Young) and she gets a doll. She claims she is having the best day ever, but a rat named Fidget (Candy Candido) kidnaps her father as she hides in the cupboard. Dr. David Q. Dawson (Val Bettin) returns to England after a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and finds a crying Olivia in a boot, and she explains that she tried to look for her father, but can’t find him.
She tells him that she is looking for Basil Rathbone (Barrie Ingham). They go to his house, where a disguised Basil practically ignores them telling him the situation of her father as he is working on an experiment. It failed, and he is acting so melodramatically, as he never beats Ratigan (Vincent Price). He soon enough takes the case, when he realizes that the rat she is talking about is Ratigan’s worker. Her father is refusing to do the task that Ratigan asked for (to build a robot) but he threatens him by saying that his daughter will get hurt.
He goes to the lair of his, where all of his henchmen are there. He tells them to kiss his ass, head, dick, toes, armpits, and all the other places, which leads them to sing the wonderfully catchy The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind, and gets his cat to kill a henchman when he drunkingly calls him a rat.
So Dawson, Olivia, and Basil go to the toy shop via Sherlock’s dog Toby. Basil tells him to watch Olivia (who ends up touching a bunch of stuff), and she eventually gets kidnapped by Fidget (with Ratigan probably knowing they will go there). This scene does drag on for like a good 12 minutes, and I realized around here that the story is very simple, though it is not badly executed.
Ratigan then tells Hiram that he has Olivia, and if he dos not make the robot, Olivia will get taken out and injured. They go back home to do more research, and the research leads them to a bar, where a go-go dancer sings Let Me Be Good To You.
The drinks Basil and Dawson got were drugged, but Dawson drinks too much of it already, and is acting like a wild, horny man. Fidget appears, and they follow him (which Ratigan wants), to only be trapped by Ratigan. The duo are tied to a mouse trap, with the bottle Olivia is in is right beside them. Ratigan chooses not to stay at the sight to make sure they are dead, but he leaves to go on with his plan. They manage to get out of it and to save Olivia. I just noticed what a crappy birthday she is having.
Queen Mousetoria (Eve Brenner) is about to go to her Jubillee, but she is kidnapped by Ratigan, and a robot version of her (the one Harim made) was used to replace her. He used the robot to deem him as ruler, but that gets ruined when Basil, Dawson, and Olivia arrive, and the Queen is saved from being eaten by the cat. Olivia is kidnapped by Ratigan, with the others following, and the three of them end up in the clock mechanisms of The Big Ben.
So Basil is getting his ass whooped, but Ratigan’s cape gets stuck on some gears, which the other two take that time to escape, and end up outside. Olivia is tossed to her father and to safety, while Ratigan escapes to beat Basil’s ass again. The 10:00 clock rings, causing them to fall, but since animated movies have the “bad guy falls to his death, and good guy gets saved” formula, Basil ends up making it.
Olivia and Hiram say their final goodbyes at Basil’s house and after they leave, Dawson gets ready to leave, but Basil is sad because he will miss him. When someone comes to the door for another case, Basil deems Dawson as his trusted associate. You would think this would be an opening for a sequel, but…….it is not. Probably because of its lukewarm box office numbers.
The characters are good; the main ones, but the supporting ones are forgettable. They are engaging though.
The animation is not bad, but it looks really cheap. The dimension is not that good, a few minor consistency issues, and the designs being overall generic, but it did enough to not make me want to hurl.
The music is absolutely nothing special. Sure The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind is catchy, but there is no overall theme to the music. The score is nice enough I guess, but the soundtrack….needs more.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on July 2nd, 1986, it did modestly. Out of it’s $14 million budget, it made the acceptable $38,625,550, and it was well received. Since it made almost double the amount that it’s predecessor did, it gave the studio hope for animation (as they were considering to close it after the abysmal failure of The Black Cauldron), and started the development of The Little Mermaid. It was also overshadowed by Don Bluth’s film An American Tail, which was released almost 5 months after this film.
As of today, it is one of the most forgotten films in the canon. Almost no one talks about it unless it is about which film helped the Renaissance, and when The Black Cauldron is talked about. It is seen as one of the best (if not the best) film in the Dark Age.
= 26.5/40 = 66%