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MGM Studios DVD presents
The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue (1998)

"I know you're trying, but remember something: some try, Brisbys do."
- Martin Brisby (Philip Van Dyke)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: February 12, 2002

Stars: Ralph Macchio, Dom DeLuise, William H. Macy, Eric Idle
Other Stars: Andrew Ducote, Harvey Korman, Peter MacNicol, Arthur Malet, Andrea Martin, Meshach Taylor, Hynden Walch
Director: Dick Sebast

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: G for (suitable for all audiences)
Run Time: 1h:08m:25s
Release Date: March 06, 2001
UPC: 027616859181
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- C-B-C+ D+

DVD Review

One of my brightest filmgoing experiences as a child came from an almost-forgotten animated movie that differed considerably from the predominant Disney releases of the time. The Secret of NIMH stands apart as a darker, more adult creation with believable characters and no Broadway-type songs. Released in 1982, this adaptation of Robert C. O'Brien's prize-winning children's book about mice was the first movie from director Don Bluth (Titan A.E., Anastasia) following his departure from Disney. It featured a compelling story (especially for a six-year-old) and stunning animation well ahead of its time. Considering the impressive original, the 1998 sequel did not seem like a terrible idea. Unfortunately, this straight-to-video mess retains little of the charm of its predecessor and panders to the least common denominator. The title The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue immediately signifies the very young target audience of this simple adventure. In the original story, Timmy Brisby was a mouse suffering from pneumonia whose plight spurred the plot. He has now grown into a teenager and faces the constant reminder of the elder Nicodemus' prediction about his future heroism. Voiced by an unrecognizable Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid), Timmy blunder his way through trouble and must grow up and discover his inner strength. Sadly, this character becomes so annoying that his eventual and obvious change offers little solace except that the film is almost finished. Jonathan Brisby has legendary status among the mice of Thorn Valley, a luxurious haven for many whom he saved from NIMH—a dreadful facility for testing animals. Timmy is Jonathan's youngest son, which allows him to train at Thorn Valley to become a leader like his father. After a dull, lengthy prologue, Jenny (Hynden Welch) enters the picture and spurs a return to NIMH to save her parents. This leads to a confrontation with an evil, corrupted mouse (Eric Idle) and several close calls before the expected conclusion. Throughout the hour-long running time, there are numerous groan-inducing moments that make the ultimate quest uninteresting. Unlike its far superior predecessor, this simplistic film models itself after the typical Disney format and includes a series of songs mixed into the story. While this approach does often work in films like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Aladdin, it completely fails in this production. The central reason for this disaster is total lack of originality in any of the numbers. None of the songs remain in your head more than a few minutes after hearing them, and they offer only the most basic musical accompaniment. Did the mice decide to take up singing after the events of the first film? These tunes contain little energy and really appear only to waste time and disguise the limited nature of the script. The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue obviously exists to appeal to very young children, and perhaps it works for them. While viewing this picture, I wondered whether a negative review would miss the point because of its intended audience. However, this story even falls short when compared to Disney straight-to-video releases aimed at the same age group, so it still deserves criticism. Also, the NIMH title immediately brings certain expectations to the film, and it falls well short in every area. My only recommendation for parents stems from the lack of any objectionable material in this story. It also presents a positive message about discovering the true heroism inside every one of us. While these attributes will succeed with four-year-olds, older kids deserve more than this shabby release.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This feature appears in a decent full-frame transfer that corresponds with its straight-to-video origins. There are virtually zero defects on the print, but its effectiveness is limited by the technological level of the material presented. While the animated colors are bright and impressive, there's nothing too amazing about the images and they appear slightly flat and uninspiring. While some of this problem falls with the pretty basic animation, it does partially stem from this transfer. While this presentation does well enough given the quality level of the film, it falls well below the best releases in the genre.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Secret of Nimh 2 includes a 5.1-channel Dolby track that exudes a surprisingly low level of audio power. Even with the volume turned up quite high, it still remains a quiet transfer and offers few moments of interest. While the dialogue and dreadful songs are easily understandable, they would have benefited immensely from an improved sound presentation. This track also exudes an extremely limited audio presenation, with little complexity or additional sound effects utilized. The rear speakers are virtually nonexistent, and the "5.1" label promises much more than it actually delivers. When combined with the limited extras and visually shortcomings, it is clear that MGM spent little time on this release.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Considering the low quality of this feature, it's no major surprise that the lone supplement is the original promotional trailer. This brief preview comes in a full-frame transfer and presents the basic plot and highlights of this dull film.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

I usually would not highly tout Disney's straight-to-video moneymakers, but they exist on another level from The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue. Even the returning characters from its predecessor have been reduced to dull caricatures. This is especially frustrating given the top-notch quality of animation and complexity in the original. If you're looking for an enjoyable and well-written animated film, I highly recommend The Secret of NIMH. Its sequel is another story.

 


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