The Secret of NIMH appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I thought the movie looked decent but rarely much better than that.
Sharpness usually came across as reasonably concise and distinctive. However, a fair number of scenes looked a bit iffy. Those didn’t dominate the movie, but they caused occasional distractions. No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I also saw no problems with edge enhancement.
Print flaws created concerns, however. Grain looked moderately heavy at times, and the image displayed a mix of specks, spots, and marks. These were prominent enough to distract much of the time.
For the most part, colors came across as reasonably lively and precise. Most of the hues were acceptably vibrant and dynamic. However, some tones appeared bland and murky, so inconsistency occurred; the grain was a factor, as it tended to add murk to the colors. Black levels were nicely deep and rich, but shadows seemed somewhat muddy and excessively heavy. NIMH was never a poor image, but it lacked much sparkle and had more than a few problems.
On the other hand, the DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack of The Secret of NIMH seemed pretty good. Music demonstrated the greatest expansion, as the score offered general spread to the sides and the rear. Stereo imaging was pretty nice, as the music spread across the channels well. Effects had less to do, but they add some pep and showed decent localization and movement.
Audio quality was pretty good. Speech appeared natural and concise; only a little edginess ever marred the lines, as they usually remained distinctive. Effects appeared reasonably vivid, and they boasted nice bass during louder scenes. Music was also warm and lively. Nothing here dazzled, but the audio was more than adequate for its age.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the original 2007 DVD? Visuals were a little tighter, but I didn’t think the Blu-ray did much to improve on the DVD. This was “silk purse/sow’s ear” territory; I don’t think the movie got any clean-up since the release of the DVD, so while the Blu-ray’s greater resolution added a bit more precision, it couldn’t fix the many problems.
To my surprise, the DTS-HD track offered a good step up over its predecessor. The DVD’s 2.0 mix was a bit of a mess, but the DTS edition was a lot clearer, better placed and involving. The Blu-ray’s audio was a definite improvement over its predecessor.
Some of the DVD’s extras repeat here. We open with an audio commentary from director/producer Don Bluth and producer/directing animator Gary Goldman. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They talk about animation techniques and visual design, cast and performances, story and character issues, and a few other technical topics.
I guess I can’t fault the topics covered in this commentary, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find it to be pretty dry. We get a passable overview of the production that comes without much spark or sense of real insight. Bluth and Goldman occasionally produce some interesting tidbits about the flick as well as interesting stories such as their rescue of an injured owl. However, most of the commentary remains mediocre and it doesn’t often threaten to really involve the listener.
A featurette called The Secrets Behind The Secret runs 14 minutes, 25 seconds. It presents movie clips, behind the scenes materials and interviews with Bluth and Goldberg. The program looks at the adaptation of the novel and its path to the screen, getting their animation studio running, and design for NIMH. We also learn about characters and performances, animation techniques, and various challenges that came along the way.
This acts as a good complement to the commentary, as it touches on different subjects and fleshes out our knowledge of the flick. It’s too bad it doesn’t include additional participants, but it’s still pretty informative.
Not found on the 2007 DVD, the Blu-ray adds the trailer for NIMH. However, it drops a few games/activities, none of which will be missed by adults.
Despite an intriguing story, The Secret of NIMH never turns into anything memorable. The movie meanders along and tends to focus on the least interesting characters, much to its detriment. The Blu-ray offers erratic, often messy visuals but boasts a surprisingly strong soundtrack. Supplements remain minor and average. This isn’t a great movie or release, but the auditory improvements may make it worthwhile for fans who want to upgrade over the 2007 DVD.
To rate this film, visit the Family Fun Edition review of THE SECRET OF NIMH