Archive for Fidget

The Great Mouse Detective

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The setting is London, 1897, and a young Scottish mouse named Olivia Flaversham is celebrating her birthday with her toymaker father, Hiram. Suddenly, a bat with a crippled wing and pegged leg bursts into the Flaversham’s workshop, kidnapping Hiram. It is later revealed that Professor Padraic Ratigan kidnapped Hiram to create a clockwork robot which mimics the Queen of the Mice. Ratigan’s plan is to do away with the real queen and use the robot as a decoy. With the real Queen dead in secret, Ratigan could rule as the King of the Mice of England. Hiram refuses to take part in Ratigan’s scheme, whereupon Ratigan orders Fidget (the bat) to capture Olivia. If Hiram continues to refuse to cooperate, Ratigan will have Olivia fed to Felicia, Ratigan’s cat.

Olivia searches to find the famed Great Mouse Detective named Basil of Baker Street. A surgeon named Dr. David Q. Dawson stumbles upon Olivia, and helps her find Basil’s residence, which is a mousehole in the cellar of the home of Sherlock Holmes. At first Basil is reluctant, but when Olivia mentions the peg-legged bat that kidnapped her father, Basil realizes that Olivia saw Fidget, a henchman of Ratigan, whom Basil has been trying to arrest for years.

Basil and Dawson then use Sherlock Holmes’ pet, a Basset Hound named Toby, to track Fidget’s scent to a nearby toy store. Fidget is surprised by Basil, Dawson, and Olivia in the toyshop where he is stealing clockwork mechanisms and toy soldiers’ uniforms for Ratigan’s plan. He hides and later traps Olivia by ambushing her from inside a toy cradle. Basil and Dawson pursue Fidget but become entangled in some toys and fall behind, giving Fidget enough time to escape with all the materials he needs, along with Olivia. While searching the shop, Dawson discovers Fidget’s forgotten checklist, which details everything Fidget has taken with him. Basil and Dawson return to Baker Street, where Basil discovers by means of close examination and some chemical tests that the list came from the riverfront, and they look for a small tavern near the Thames waterfront.

Meanwhile, Ratigan receives from Fidget the supplies needed to create his robot Queen, but he discovers that Fidget has lost the list, and knowing that any detective of Basil’s calibre might track its writer, he sentences Fidget to death by Felicia. However, Ratigan suddenly realizes how to defeat Basil, and pardons Fidget by telling Felicia to release him.

Basil and Dawson are in the tavern near the Thames, disguised as sailors inquiring for Ratigan to the staff. As they wait, Fidget stumbles through the pub. Basil keeps a close eye on the waitress who informs the bartender of Basil’s intentions. Basil inspects his drink confirming that the drinks have been drugged, Dawson on the other hand has gulped it down and during the stage performance he jumps on stage, starts dancing with the girls and falls onto the piano, causing a bar fight to break out. Basil revives Dawson and escapes the tavern to go after Fidget. The two follow Fidget through some pipes to Ratigan’s headquarters, only to discover that Ratigan and his henchmen had prepared for their arrival. Realizing that he had been outwitted by his nemesis, Basil falls into a paralyzing depression. Triumphant, Ratigan ties them to a spring-loaded mousetrap, connected with a Rube Goldberg machine of death. (A song plays on a phonograph, gradually tightening a rope, which pulls a cork away at the end of the song, releasing a ball bearing down a chute, eventually setting off the mouse trap, in the process firing a gun and a crossbow, and releasing an axe and an anvil, and then activating a camera. Each of the tools used [with the exception of the camera) would kill the pair on its own merits, however, Ratigan states that he has decided to use all of them, since he could not decide on just one.) Ratigan sets out for Buckingham Palace, leaving behind Dawson and Basil for dead along with Olivia who is trapped in a bottle nearby, as Fidget and his accomplices kidnap the queen.

Dawson demands that Basil put his mistake behind him, claiming that he knows Basil can save them, but they may as well die now if he is going to give up. He inadvertently raises Basil’s spirit by inspiring him on a means of escape. After seconds of mental calculations Basil instructs Dawson to set the mousetrap off when he gives the signal. At the precise moment after the record player finishes and before a large ball sets off the trap, Basil gives the signal, and Dawson slams his hand down on the trigger. The metal bar snaps over and traps the ball. The pressure causes a part of the mousetrap to snap like a projectile. The part hits the gun and the gun jumps and fires, missing the duo, instead hitting a crossbow which fires a bolt. The bolt hits an axe, and breaks the head from the handle. The axe head comes down on the trap, narrowly missing Basil and Dawson, and chopping the trap in two. The trap separates and flies out in opposite directions; going far enough to evade the falling anvil which also crushes the axe blade. The impact of the anvil causes Olivia’s bottle to pop open, and Olivia comes flying out. Basil gets up, catches Olivia, pulls over a confused Dawson, and smiles at the camera, just before it clicks.

Back at the palace, Ratigan is putting his plan into action. Hidden behind a curtain, Hiram operates the toy Queen, while the real Queen is being taken by Fidget to be fed to Felicia. At the appropriate moment, Ratigan advances into plain sight, clad in the robes of a King. He at once thanks his Queen-figure, then proceeds to recite a long list of proposed insanely tyrannical legal reforms. Meanwhile, Fidget carried the real queen out to the waiting Felicia. Just in time to save the Queen, Toby chases Felicia to a wall. She climbs over the wall easily, right into the midst of the Royal Guard Dogs on the other side where she is mercilessly mauled, presumably to death. Basil, Dawson, and Olivia, who made it to the Buckingham Palace, saves Hiram and the real Queen, and tie up Fidget along with Ratigan’s other henchmen. Basil then seizes control of the mechanical mouse-queen, forcing it to denounce Ratigan as an impostor and tyrant, all the while breaking into pieces. The crowd, outraged by Ratigan’s treason start climbing onto him. Ratigan manages to free himself, and he escapes on his dirigible with Fidget, and holding Olivia hostage as Basil, Dawson, and Flaversham pursue him.

Basil, Dawson, and Hiram create their own craft with a matchbox and some small helium-filled balloons, held under the Union Jack. A high-speed chase above the city ensues. Ratigan throws Fidget (who can’t fly) overboard and into the river below to “lighten the load”, and then attempts to drive the dirigible himself. Basil jumps on to the dirigible to confront his nemesis; however, with no helmsman, Ratigan is unable to steer his craft, and it ends up crashing straight into Big Ben.

Inside the clock, Ratigan and Basil face off for possession of Olivia, although Ratigan still holds her in hostage. Basil manages to trap Ratigan by tossing his cape between two gears, and rescues Olivia. As Ratigan struggles, he notices Basil leading Olivia out of the clock and, due to his insane hate for the mouse detective, succumbs to rage, giving him the strength to tear his cape free. As he scurries through the clockworks, Olivia is safely delivered to Hiram, who is still on the balloon with Dawson. But Ratigan catches up and viciously attacks Basil, causing them to fall down onto one of the clock’s hour hands. Ragged and enraged, he has transformed from a pompous pseudo-gentleman into the terrifying rat he really is. Using his apparently retractile claws, Ratigan slashes Basil’s clothes and strikes him several times. He then knocks Basil off the clock hand, sending him falling as the clock begins to chime the Westminster Quarters. Ratigan claims his victory, until he looks down to see that Basil has managed to grasp onto the dirigible propeller, and he rings Ratigan’s bell (which nobody, including Ratigan, knows when or how he managed to pickpocket), a brief warning for the Great Bell striking 10:00. The vibrations shake Ratigan from the clock’s hour hand. As he falls, Ratigan catches hold of Basil, and they both fall into the clouds. After a few tense moments, Basil emerges alive using the severed dirigible propeller.

Later, back at Baker Street, Basil and Dawson recounts their adventures as well as the queen’s gratitude to their saving her life. The scene is interrupted by a distraught new client. Basil then persuades Dawson to remain as “my trusty associate, Doctor Dawson, with whom I do all my cases.”

REVIEW:

This has long been one of my favorite Disney films. After all these years, I still love it.

I remember when I first saw it back in the mid 80s. The sheer beauty of the animation took me aback even at that young age.

The fight scene in Big Ben is awesome and one of the first uses of CGI.

Vincent Price’s voice is perfect as Rattigan as he gives a mixture of psychosis and distinction. For the longest time I thought he was the most evil Disney villain…until Jafar from Aladdin.Keep in mind when I first saw this, I was not aware of Malificent and many of the earlier villains.

As with pretty much every Disney film, there is an annoying child. Olivia Flaversham gets on my nerves. Not really sure why, though.

There are very few Disney films that don’t knock it out of the park, and this one definately hits a home run. It’s really quite a shame it isn’t more well known, though. You should check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

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