Wednesday, August 24, 2011

After Game Movies: The Secret of NIMH

Had a long day at work, spent enough time with the family, or just had your friends over. Well no sense in cleaning up, why not watch a movie instead?

Here's a movie that might tickle your fancy, this week on After Game Movies.........


It might have been a while since this movie first came out......1982......Wow this movie is older never mind. Let's take a look to see if it still holds up today.......


Like I said in the last paragraph this movie has been out for a very long time, but how did I come into contact with it? I suppose the very first time I watched this movie, had to be when I was around 6 years old I believe? Needless to say, back then I was not allowed to watch this movie; actually saw the terrible terrible sequel. I don't think I even watched the whole thing; this was mostly from watching the movie at other friends house's and not owning it.

But enough about the past, what inspired me to revisit this movie. Well in the world of movie reviewers, you tend to run into amazing personalities. One such character is the critically acclaimed Nostalgia Critic, which if you don't know about already is just fantastic to watch. Anyway, after watching one of his videos: Top 11 Underrated Classics, the Secret of Nimh was showcased and really spiked my interest. Remembering briefly about seeing the film as a child, I thought it would be neat to revisit this old film and see if it still held up today.


The story for the most part is based off the children's book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by the American author Robert C. O' Brien. Now for the most part the film stays close to the book, but there are several significant changes. For starters the protagonist's name is changed to Mrs. Brisby in order to prevent potential copyright problems with well....Frisby. The other large change was the increased usuage of "magic" or the extremely old age of the Rat's leader Nicodemus. Apparently in the book, the rats relied on electricity and Nicodemus was much younger.  

The main plot of the story revolves around the struggles of Mrs. Brisby, as she tries to save the life of her ill son Timmy; in the process has to overcome all fear in order to ultimately save him and the mysterious Rats of Nimh. Now for the most part the plot works and makes enough sense for most children. However, there are several plot holes that just don't sit well with me. For starters, if the Rats of Nimh are so intelligent; allowing them to speak and become more the rats. How come the other animals in the forest can talk? At least the Rats have an actual plot point reason why they are smart and strangely we are supposed to take for granted that everyone else can talk already.

Next is the scene with the Great Horned Owl. Yes, his scene is amazing and makes the movie, but why is he wise and for that matter his scene is rather pointless. Brisby goes to him to find out how to move her house, just to have him say go to the Rats of Nimh; for some apparent reason she does not know who they are. Although we even hear several other characters talk about them, which would imply that she was already aware of them. These are minor quirks in the plot and won't reck the experience overall. 


This is the cover of the film that I bought; boy it could not be more misleading. This cover tries to make you forget that there is on screen death scenes, blood and horror movie aspects. This film, while fairly tame by today's standard of violence, was rather revolutionary in it's visual portrayal of adult themes like death and despair. This film was Don Bluth's golden gem, so to speak; which allowed him to expand his famous classic animation studio into a powerhouse that rivalled Disney at one time. Looking at the number of animators that worked on this project, it's amazing to see such a small list(one page in fact). Considering if you look at the animation quality of this film, it's remarkable that they pulled off the feat that is the Secret of Nimh. This film was created with roughly 7,000,000 US$ and earned $14,665,733, in 1982.


For the most part the only character really worth talking about is Mrs. Brisby. Which is reasonable because the plot really only involves her own struggles to save her son. Even the main villian Jenner, is only in the film for the ending scenes. The main conflict in this film is really man(mouse) vs world and the strength of a parent to protect their child. I really enjoyed that aspect of the movie, because we are able to put ourselves into Mrs.Brisby's shoes and experience her struggles as if they were our own. The most pointless character in this film is Jeremy(played by the late Dom Deluise); while I really enjoy his roles in other Don Bluth movies. I just found him really off setting in this movie for some reason? Although, he did help to keep the film light hearted when it risked going too dark.


A fairly smooth ride comparred to other movies. Not a particulary long film, but there are some parts that seem like padding, in order to show off more of Don's fantastic artwork. The Great Owl scene; while being still one of the best parts of the film, is unfortunately rather pointless, with reagards to the plot progression. It's like a built in fetch quest, that really does not make a whole lot of sense if you think about in the greater scheme of things. Regardless, the film still travels along at a decent pace and ignoring the parts of the film with Jeremy, it's rather deep and engaging.


After nearly 30 years, this film remarkably still holds up really well. Sure there are some parts that show their age and feel generic. Don Bluth's fantastic animation/artwork is still breathe taking and combine that with a fantastic musical score, the film still shines bright in the dark.




Anyone who enjoys classic cinematic animation. Also anyone with children, that are looking for a family movie that has more substance then lets say...newer CGI films like: Over the Hedge, Hoodwinked or even the new Cars movie. I think regardless of what films you tend to like, everyone needs to see this film at least once if they enjoy contemporary fantasy adventure stories.


Like I said before this film has something for everyone, it's one of those rare films that all age groups can watch at the same time. I suppose if you have already watched this movie before, then the big surprise of the movie falls apart, but it's not bad to watch it several years apart at a time.

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