27 July 2004 | barnabyrudge
Decent animated film, with a heavy-going plot but good features along the way.
In the early '80s a group of Disney animators, headed by Don Bluth, decided to break away from the Disney studio. The Secret of NIMH was the first film they made. Based on a semi-classic children's book entitled "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH" by Robert C. O'Brien, the film emerges as a decent little animated feature. The story is a bit on the sombre side - probably a bit too serious and complex for really young viewers - but the animation is of a superb quality and the characters are very nicely voiced.
Field mouse Mrs Brisby needs to move her family from their home in a farmer's field, as it is almost time for the farmer to gather his crop with the combine harvester. Inevitably the Brisby home would be destroyed and anyone in it killed during the gathering of the crop. Unfortunately, one of her children, Timmy, is suffering from pneumonia and couldn't possible survive the move. Mrs Brisby is advised to contact the rats of NIMH, a group of hyper-intelligent rodents, to ask for their help. Apparently, her late husband Jonathan was a close friend of the rats and they held him in such high regard that they will do anything to help a member of the Brisby clan.
The story is told mainly through talk, with occasional bursts of action. As already pointed out, this means the film doesn't really lend itself to a very young audience. But older kids, especially those who are willing to listen with the appropriate degree of attention, will find the story interesting. There are other plus points - Jerry Goldsmith's rousing score; Dom DeLuise's amusing vocals as an accident-prone bird; and some very well-conceived "baddies" in the shape of rat conspirator Jenner and savage farm-cat Dragon. The Secret of NIMH is a moderately successful film - no masterpiece, true enough, and not really a serious challenger to the Disney dominance over the genre, but definitely a film that every child should see at least once.