Bolt is the ugly sister of Wall-E, a movie that by its mere existence pales into comparison to its Disney brethren. In this case, though, Bolt is like Rachel Leigh Cook with glasses - it may not be quite as good, but it's still pretty hot.
Both Wall-E and Bolt were distributed by Disney, but by the time the latter film was released in November, several largely popular animated films had already been released, the winner already sealed. Its Oscar nomination was merely an honorary inclusion, as it didn't stand a chance. But that doesn't stop Bolt from being an entertaining and enjoyable adventure the whole family can enjoy.
If Wall-E was too boring for your little kids, Bolt is the ticket. About a dog who thinks he's a superhero, the movie begins with an Incredibles-esque action sequence full of motorcycles, helicopters and bad guys. It's an exciting and captivating way to drop the audience into its story, and just goes on from there.
While the rest of the movie doesn't quite compare to its intro, Bolt has enough laughs and adventure to appeal to even the ficklest of fans. That may be pushing it, but use of the word "ficklest" compelled me to say it. When it's revealed that Bolt the dog is not, in fact, a superhero, but instead an unknowing, Truman Show-esque fabrication of network television, the movie kicks into full gear. Clever and funny, the creators lead the dog on a cross-country hunt for his "kidnapped" human (he just think she's been kidnapped) - ultimately resulting in a very Disney-like ending that harkens back to the days of old.
And that's what is most appealing about Bolt. While Pixar continues to develop compelling tales that expand the scope of animated fare, Bolt is the closest thing to a traditional Disney film since, maybe, The Lion King. There's no singing, and the graphics are beautiful CGI, but Bolt feels like classic Disney and families should celebrate this fact. Bolt doesn't rely on gimmicks or Shrek-style jokes; it is a good, old-fashioned adventure-comedy starring a dog. Bolt the Ride is coming to a Disneyland near you.
Though entertaining, Bolt does falter at the beginning of the third act, as some of the concept begins to stretch thin. Still, this is a small inconvenience and kids won't notice. Bolt doesn't compare to Wall-E or Kung Fu Panda, its two Oscar competitors, but it is still a worthy and surprisingly well-made animated flick.
Bolt comes to DVD and Blu-Ray on March 24, 2009 in three different versions, including 1-disc and 2-disc DVD sets as well as a DVD/Blu-Ray/digital combo set. The combo set, which is what I reviewed, contains a lot of features to keep the kiddies (and parents interested in the making of animated films) entertained, including:
- Super Rhino - Breakout star Rhino, the hyperactive hamster, gets a chance to headline his very own adventure!
- "I Thought I Lost You" Music Video featuring the movie's stars, Miley Cyrus and John Travolta.
- In Session with John Travolta and Miley Cyrus - A behind-the-scenes look at recording Bolt's signature song "I Thought I Lost You."
- A New Breed of Directors: A Filmmakers' Journey - First-time directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard take fans along as they traverse the road from concept to completion.
- Act, Speak! The Voices of Bolt - Join the voice cast in session: John Travolta (Bolt), Miley Cyrus (Penny), Susie Essman (Mittens), James Lipton (Director) and Mark Walton (Rhino).
- Creating The World of Bolt- Bolt's painterly backgrounds have wowed audiences across the globe. The filmmakers explain how they fashioned the unique look of this CG movie.
- Deleted scenes
In addition to the features above, the Blu-Ray disc contains:
- Bolt's Be-Awesome Mission - In order to defeat the Green-Eyed Man, Bolt has to find his way through three challenging levels in an exciting interactive game. Viewers can join in collecting clues, conquering ninjas and unleashing the power of the Super Bark!
- Bolt Art Gallery - Animation enthusiasts can check out the film's early creative concepts in the Bolt Art Gallery, which contains the building blocks of a big screen blockbuster, from storyboards to character mock-ups. Gallery sections include Visual Development, Character Development, Storyboard Art and Color Script Images.
- BD-Live including Movie Chat, Movie Mail, Movie Challenge and Movie Rewards
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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