Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Bolt is the newest animation from Disney, and by far their best venture into 3D. It's the first movie that they've made entirely since their acquisition of Pixar, and it shows. The animation is wonderful, the aesthetic is fantastic, and the story is god forbid- original. While many movies go for throwaway gags every minute, Bolt focuses more on a genuinely crafted plot.

Bolt (John Travolta) is the biggest canine star on TV. The only catch is that he doesn't know it's not real. There are some very clever scenes faking special effects on stage to maintain the illusion of reality to Bolt while they're filming. Unfortunately it also prevents Penny (Miley Cyrus), Bolt's owner and co-star from actually having him as a pet. To boost the show's ratings, they decide to have Penny kidnapped in a cliffhanger ending. Not knowing that this is fake, Bolt manages to escape from his trailer and sets off on a cross country journey to rescue her.

Along the way Bolt assembles a little posse. Mittens the cat (Susie Essman) provides a sarcastic dose of realism to counter Bolt's delusions. Unfortunately her protests fall on deaf ears as Bolt thinks that she is in on the conspiracy that captured Penny (in the show, the bad guys are cats). Along the way they pick up Rhino (Mark Walton) a hamster in a ball who reveals himself to be Bolt's biggest fan. He buys right into the reality of the show and feeds Bolt's mission with unparalleled enthusiasm.

This is, of course, a family movie, so it lays on its themes pretty thickly. Perhaps a little more overt than I would care, but that's forgivable considering the primary audience. The idea of family and belonging are expressed through Mittens' distrust of the humans that abandoned her, and Bolt fearing that Penny has replaced him with a new dog. These are touching, if sappy, moments.

Bolt is being shown in both regular ad 3D. I saw it in 3D and though it does add something to the experience, I always have trouble balancing the 3D glasses with my actual glasses. And for some reason stereoscopic movies seem to strain my eyes more. That, plus the several dollars added to the ticket price may make it not worth while (though seeing trailers to Up, Monsters Vs. Aliens, and Coraline in 3D were pretty cool). The good thing about Bolt is that Brian Howard and Chris Williams did not direct it for stereoscopic viewing. This means there are not a lot of things illogically flying at the camera (though there are a few). The 3D is done much subtler, adding depth to the rich environments.

These environments truly stood out in this movie. Detailed streets from cities around the country, elaborate film sets, and lush wilderness environments make each scene unique. There is never a shortage of eye candy. These sets are only matched by the delightful animation. The movie really did feel fresh, among animations that generally seem more occupied parodying pop culture than creating something original. Also, Bolt opens with possibly the cutest scene ever put on film. If this movie doesn't make you want to get a puppy, there is something seriously wrong.


No comments: