Friday, April 1, 2011

The Secret of NIMH Blu-ray Review

Release Date: March 29th, 2011
Disc Size: 20.8 GB
Film Size: 19.2 GB
Film Rating: G
Region: A
The Video
The Secret of NIMH’ comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. It has been nearly 30 years since the film released originally, which did leave me a bit worried about the potential of the video presentation.

Earlier in the week I read a few impressions on the disc, with mixed reactions. Going in I did have lower expectations, the film isn’t touted as being newly restored, and it did make itself quickly to Blu-ray since being announced.

Watching the film I do have a mixed reception on the disc. There are definitely negative aspects including constant specks and moments of dirt and minor print damage. It was disappointing to see issues that could have been reduced significantly if restored properly.

Thankfully DNR has not been applied as a quick fix so we certainly get a better presentation than what we may have received if released a couple years earlier on Blu-ray. I did love the improvement from DVD that is found with this Blu-ray release, the upgrade was obvious to me.

The most distracting issue of all however is the flickering present during a few moments in the film in which the color brightness adjusts every couple of seconds, every so lightly. There isn’t a drastic change in color, but you can’t miss the flickering.

Aside from the flickering moments, colors are quite excellent and the detail in the animation also tends to impress. There are a few wider shots which do come across as softer looking, but weren’t overly disappointing. The majority of shots featured excellent clarity and it was very easy to appreciation the animation.

The flickering look is not a transfer issue; the issue stems from the source used which clearly has some issues. I am not exactly sure what could have been done to fix that issue specifically, but it is there. As a whole I thought the presentation looked quite decent if not good, but the negative aspects certainly hurt my final score significantly. 6/10

The Audio
An English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option included. Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Italian and Castilian mono tracks are also included. Optional subtitles include English SDH, Spanish and French.

The English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track included sounds quite strong. Dialogue was very crisp and easy to understand, more than I expected. The film’s audio effects are the weaker aspect, but they don’t really disappoint either.

The film’s music comes through clearly and beautifully. I think the music was the most impressive aspect of the audio mix in my eyes. Overall this is a very solid mix that will leave viewers very pleased and possibly surprised like I was. 8/10

The Extras

Audio Commentary
With Filmmakers Don Bluth & Gary Goldman

Secrets Behind the Secret Featurette (14:25) (SD)
This feature serves as the making of for the film.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:21) (HD)
The film’s original theatrical trailer is included in high-definition, I wasn’t expecting that.

There are not many extras included, but considering there is no actual main menu (there is a pop-up menu available during the film like early WB titles) perhaps we should be happy these features were even included. I loved that the original theatrical trailer is included and in high-definition to make it even better. 4/10

The Movie
The Secret of NIMH’ is now on Blu-ray at nearly 30 years in age. Like most films I haven’t been able to see it in many years, but my excitement was through the roof to own the film on Blu-ray. Revisiting the film, it is just as dark and enjoyable as I remembered.

The film is based on the novel ‘Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH’ by Robert C. O’Brien, and is directed by the incredible Don Bluth. His work truly stands out and is responsible for many of my favorite animated films and I think many would agree.

The quality of many of his films were quite similar to Disney productions, although lower budget versions. The connections are not just in the storytelling, but in the staff as well. His company Don Bluth Productions also featured a significant number of former Disney animators who left the studio in order to work with him.

The story tells of a widowed female mouse named Mrs. Brisby who lives on a farm with her children. It is necessary for them to move, in order to avoid the plows and other circumstances, but unfortunately one of her children is diagnosed with pneumonia and simply cannot leave their home.

Knowing that she needs help for her family, she goes out on an adventure to seek help and the story continues from there. The film is dark, emotional and makes for just a fantastic storytelling experience. The cover art for this Blu-ray release is quite funny, as it is quite the opposite look of the actual film.

‘The Secret of NIMH’ is one of those animated films you really don’t see much of anymore. The story can certainly be enjoyed by kids, but it doesn’t hide anything and there are a few moments which children may find emotionally difficult.

The film is not perfect by any means, but it does manage to hold up quite well for its age. The animation while not as impressive today was an accomplishment for Don Bluth and his studio. The film is quite smart as a whole and very easy to love. 8.5/10

The Blu-news Summary
The Secret of NIMH’ is a fantastic film that can be enjoyed by anyone. The Blu-ray release features a satisfying video presentation, strong audio mix and a nice but lacking selection of extras. Despite the negative aspects of this release, there is no denying this is the best the film has ever looked on home video. Whether it is a purchase or rental, I say ‘Recommended’ for the film itself.

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