Released: November 21, 2008
|by Dan Goldwasser
on March 21st, 2009
Walt Disney Animation has had a somewhat rocky track record with their non-Pixar 3D animated features. Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons all had their good points, but didn't quite live up to the same level that we as audiences have come to expect from the studio that released Toy Story and Ratatouille. When Disney acquired Pixar, they also got a modern master of storytelling, John Lasseter. Fortunately, one of the projects he ended up executive producing was Bolt. The film tells story of a dog, Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) who thinks he's a superhero - but in reality is a star of a hit television series, and just kept in the dark about the real world. When he thinks his owner Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus) is kidnapped by Dr. Calico (voiced by Malcolm McDowell), he tries to find her - but ends up in New York City. Soon he meets up with the cat Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman), who he believes to be part of Calico's organization, he forces her to take him to Penny - back in Los Angeles. And thus begins a road trip movie unlike many you've seen, as Bolt and Mittens - along with a hamster named Rhino who also happens to be an obsessed "Bolt" fan - travel across the USA to find Penny. Directed by first-time feature animation directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard, Bolt is a fun and heartfelt film, and at times provides plenty of laughs and even excitement. (The finale is particularly tense, and very well executed.)
Released as a Blu-ray Combo Pack, the movie comes with three discs - the first one is the Blu-ray, with extras detailed below. The second disc is the standard definition DVD of the film, and the third disc contains the Digital Copy version of the movie for playback on your computer and handheld devices.
Video on the Blu-ray is perfect. The 1080p image was transferred direct-to-digital, and the color and detail is excellent. From the opening sequence (within the television show), the palette takes on an oversaturated high-contrast look like a Michael Bay film, and then once in the real world, everything looks stunning. The painted backgrounds and color palettes work for each of the different major locations (LA, New York, Ohio, Vegas), and you truly feel like the imagery captures the feeling evoked by those locales. Overall, it's a gorgeous reference-quality image. Audio is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and it packs a punch! Dialogue is crystal clear, the soundscape is immersive (especially during the action sequences), and John Powell's score sounds vibrant and full. A 5.1 Dolby Spanish track is also included.
The extras on the Blu-ray start off with a bonus animated short, "Super Rhino" (HD, 4.5-minutes), which is an utter blast as Rhino stole most of the show and is a hoot to watch. There are two deleted scenes with an introduction by the directors (HD, 6.5-minutes), presented as storyboards. A music video for "I Thought I Lost You" (HD, 1.5-minutes) features both Miley Cyrus and John Travolta singing intercut with shots from the film, also comes with a small peek behind the scenes of the music video with "In Session with John Travolta and Miley Cyrus" (HD, 1-minute). It's a bit fluffy, but also marks pretty much the only time the two actors worked in the same room.
"Bolt's Be-Awesome Mission" is an arcade-style game where you get to play as Bolt, using your remote as a game controller and snarky commentary by Rhino. It's actually pretty fun! Three featurettes take a look behind the scenes of the filmmaking process. "A New Breed of Directors: The Filmmakers' Journey" (4.5-minutes, HD) looks at the two directors of the film and how they came about to make the film. "Act, Speak! The Voices of Bolt" (10-minutes, HD) looks at the main voice cast including John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, and others. "Creating the World of Bolt" (7-minutes, HD) looks at the unique art direction of the film, where painted backgrounds helped provide the warm and comforting look of the movie. Finally, there are four areas in the "Bolt Art Galleries" (Character Design, Color Script, Storyboard Art and Visual Development) with a slew of artwork to browse.
Sadly there is nothing on the technical achievements the film made (in particular the representation of fire and flame), nor is there anything on John Powell's music score. Even more disappointing (and possibly reflecting a growing trend in home video), there are no trailers for the film. With no commentary and only a small handful of extras, it's easy to wonder if Bolt will be revisited in the future. Still, it's a solid and enjoyable film that provided a refreshing take on the old "road trip" movie formula. For a non-Pixar Disney 3D animated feature, Bolt is good quality family entertainment.
|by Dan Goldwasser
on November 22nd, 2008
Disney Animation's latest non-Pixar foray into the world of computer animated entertainment is the entertaining road-trip movie Bolt. Rescued as a puppy, Bolt (John Travolta) has been "modified" to have superhero powers, with a mission to keep his master Penny (Miley Cyrus) safe from the evil Dr. Calico (Malcolm McDowell), who has captured her father. When Penny herself is captured, though, Bolt tries to rescue her - and ends up being shipped to New York City. He then begins a cross-country journey, along with Mittens the cat (Susie Essman) and Rhino the hamster (Mark Walton), using his superhero powers to aid them along the journey. But there's just one small snag; Bolt doesn't actually have superhero powers. Rather, he's just the star of a hit television show who has been raised in such isolation so as to believe his powers are real. As he travels across the county from New York back to Penny in Los Angeles, he also takes a personal voyage and learns more about his nature and his destiny.
Bolt is a fun movie. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and the premise - a dog who thinks he has superhero powers - opens the film up to some rather entertaining and funny situations. The scene stealers are the pigeons, which are animated delightfully and contain all the various quirks of their locations (the Los Angeles pigeons will have industry folks on the floor!), and Rhino - who, as Bolt's biggest fan, is living out every fanboy's dream of traveling with their hero. That Pixar's John Lasseter is the executive producer on the film probably has much to do with the strength of the story. Similarly, music plays an important role, one that composer John Powell delivers in diamonds. (And the part where Rhino is singing along with the score is priceless!)
Bolt is a bit intense at times, and there is some exciting peril, but overall it's good clean family fun. You feel good when the film ends, and for Disney's animated fall release, Bolt is worth checking out.
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