PG for some mild action and peril
Action, Animated, Family
Nov. 21, 2008
John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton
Byron Howard, Chris Williams
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
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By Jesse Carey
Interactive Media Producer
- Car chases. Motorcycles. Explosions. Ninjas. And that’s just the first five minutes. To compare Disney’s latest animated feature to films like Finding Nemo or The Incredibles, or any of the other modern computer-animated classics, doesn’t quite do it justice—it’s more like an amusement park ride.
Whereas Pixar films are cartoony versions of the world around the characters, Disney’s first CG movie, Bolt, strives for a realistic look and feel, that makes the action eye-popping and the entire aesthetic feel alive. (I should also mention I only saw the film in its 2D version; it’s also being released in 3D.) But that’s not to say it doesn’t contain any of the classic children’s film elements like adventure, friendship and integrity we’ve come to know from movies that have come before it.
Bolt is the story of a Hollywood dog who is the star of a hit primetime show centering around his adventures saving his owner Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus) from the evil Green Eyed Man.
The only thing is, Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) doesn’t realize that he’s just actor. He believes that the danger, the villains and his superpowers (laser vision, superbarking, and super-dog strength) are real and that Penny is actually being stalked by the Green Eyed Man, his sinister cat and a clan of ninjas. Viewers, however, quickly learn that the only thing that is real is the affection between Bolt and Penny, the young girl who has owned Bolt since he was a puppy.
When he is accidental shipped off to New York, Bolt thinks he must find a way back to Hollywood to save Penny, who he believes has actually been captured by the show’s villain.
Not long after wandering through the streets of New York City, Bolt encounters a cynical alley cat named Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman) who he forces to assist him in his journey to Hollywood. Soon Mittens and Bolt find themselves in an RV park, begging for food. Here they meet a TV-addicted hamster named Rhino (who is voiced brilliantly by a Disney animator named Mark Walton). Rhino, who recognized Bolt from his show, also doesn’t realize the television (or the “magic box” as he calls it) isn’t real, and convinces the pair to let him join them on their adventure across the country.
Though the story is a classic a road-trip/adventure and each twist and turn is relatively predictable (even for a children’s film), the plot serves as a nice vehicle for a story that is really about friendship and unconditional love.
As Bolt slowly comes to the realization that the world he knew (superpowers, over-the-top adventures and daring rescues) was all a lie, he never doubts the one thing that keeps him going—the love he has for his owner Penny. Even the relationship between Mittens, the hard-nosed alley cat that is initially forced to come along on Bolt’s journey to find Penny, turns into a moving friendship. And when you toss in the hyper-active hamster with his unbridled optimism, you’ve got a truly entertaining movie.
There’s enough edge-your-seat chases, eye-popping action and laughs (that mostly come from Rhino’s fanatical enthusiasm) to keep the kids cheering all the way through, but the story is fast enough and the dialogue is smart enough that adults will enjoy this one too. The movie is nowhere near the level of Pixar’s latest WALL*E—which wasn’t only visually stunning; it managed to tell a moving story with little dialogue and poignant social commentary—but it is good matinee fair.
If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining way to spend an hour and a half, check out Bolt. The plot may be nothing new, but the attention to graphic detail, well-crafted action sequences and quick pace make up for the generic storyline.
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