on March 17, 2009
"Bolt" really blew me away; this is the first time that I have seen a CGI film that shows a level of mastery that allows the visual artistry of the film to be the driver rather than the capabilities of the computer. The characters have the typical CGI look--extremely well rendered, with the 3D type look you'd expect. However, the backgrounds have the look of a traditional painting. Art Director Paul Felix should be commended for this mixing of styles which works out extremely well. The overall lighting, colors, and style of this film are its hallmark in my opinion. The story is really not anything that will blow you away; in fact, it is somewhat predictable; however, with the characterizations, action sequences, visual quality, and the vocal talents behind the characters, "Bolt" becomes a must-see.
In a nutshell: Bolt (John Travolta) is a super-hero canine...at least in his own mind and to TV viewers everywhere. In order to protect his performance and keep it "real," TV execs have sheltered Bolt and he believes that what he accomplishes on his show is all done on his own, not through special effects. Bolt is deeply devoted to his human costar, Penny, a little girl (Miley Cyrus), who is also deeply devoted to him as well. Mistakenly thinking that Penny is in danger at the hands of the TV villains, Bolt escapes his trailer and finds himself in the real world, where his super powers are not so super. He accidentally gets shipped to NYC, and thinks that the pink styrofoam peanuts clinging to his fur are the cause of his loss of power. With the help of a hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton) and a street-tough kitten, Mittens (Susie Essman, who is FANTASTIC!), Bolt must find his way back to Hollywood and his beloved Penny. It is a tale of growth, maturity, and love; again, nothing really earth-shattering, but in this recycled tale that we have seen in other movies, it is done so well that you forgive the studio for its predictability.
"Super Rhino" (4:27)--Rhino the hamster gets the spotlight in this animated short focusing on him. Cute!
Deleted Scenes: 2 deleted scenes ("Dog Fight in Vegas" and "River Sequence") with introductions by directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard. They are both shown in storyboard form and neither is really missed from the final picture. They were not used mainly because they wanted to heighten the emotional level of Bolt finding out about his lack of powers.
"In Session with John Travolta & Miley Cyrus" (:59)--This one is like a blip on the radar...very short! Interviews with both stars as they get ready to sing the duet from the movie "I Thought I Lost You." They are truly a mutual admiration society, with Travolta comparing Cyrus to the appeal of Olivia Newton John in "Grease."
"I Thought I Lost You" Music Video--Interspersed with footage of Travolta & Cyrus and clips from the film.
Bolt's Be-Awesome Mission--High def video game is somewhat more challenging and fun than the typical Disney video game extra. Begin at level 1, The Burning Warehouse and see how far you can progress! Takes a little bit of mastering of the controls on the remote.
"A New Breed of Directors: A Filmmakers' Journey" (4:34)-- The two directors discuss what it was like to make "Bolt," and how John Lasseter was a great mentor and guide in the process. Fun to see the gigantic plastic hamster ball that the animators played in to diffuse tensions around the office. Obviously great camaraderie was apparent with the team, as they also stopped shaving in unison during the last 9-10 weeks of work on the film.
"Act, Speak! The Voices of Bolt" (9:47)--Always interesting to see how each actor has to record their lines independently, making the process of playing off the other characters next to impossible. Really takes talent to make it work. Travolta began in voicework (commercials), so this was a return to his roots. He comments that "You can only contribute your voice...the most exciting this was seeing the marriage with the animation." Mark Walton, a Disney animation team member, did the scratch voice of Rhino, and was so perfect that he was cast in the final movie. The actual video of him finding this news out is touching to watch as you see his unbridled enthusiasm. Susie Essman ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), the voice of Mittens, was excited to show her method acting skills, but was told by the Disney team to be herself. They wanted a tough kitten with a New York accent. As Susie says, "It's just me." Disappointingly enough, she never met Travolta during her recording sessions, even though practically every scene in the movie involves her character interacting with Travolta's.
Bolt Art Galleries: Character Design, Color Script, Storyboard Art, and Visual Development. Sure is fantastic to see this great pieces of art filling up a widescreen high-def TV. The quality is really amazing, and sure beats the old days of DVD when art gallery images were in low-res and fairly tiny.
"Creating the World of Bolt" (6:45): The amazing work of art director Paul Felix and lighting director Adolph Lusinsky is detailed here. They actually visited the many locations across the country to make sure that they were able to capture the light of each unique scenic setting. Felix wanted the painterly looks of traditionally animated Disney films, and he definitely succeeds. Interesting to watch this featurette.
Digital Copy disc and a DVD of the feature with all the bonus features except the art gallery and video game.
Video: 1080p High Def/1.78:1. Disney is to be commended for having high-def extras as well. Whereas most studios go to the usual crappy video quality, Disney consistently upgrades even the extras. Especially enjoyable for the video game.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit) and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. I actually had to turn the volume down a bit, as this movie really gives the speakers a work-out. Sound comes out of all your speakers, and with a number of action sequences, the subwoofer really rumbles! Extremely impressive! Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish.
BOLT is the story of a dog who, in a TRUMAN SHOW way, is convinced from birth that he lives the life of a fictional TV show and proves his real-life worth to the world and himself. Bolt is a movie that was convinced by the U.S box office receipts that it was an underachiever when in reality it is one of the finest of Disney's recent animated features. Much speculation has surrounded the reasons for the grosses, two being the marketing angles and its competition on the same premiere weekend.
It was nominated for an Academy Award, it's a smash in the United Kingdom and is sure to hit big on DVD, especially in this nicely-packaged edition. If you're fortunate enough to have a Blu-Ray player, the magnificent artistry described in the bonus features will be especially apparent. There is a fine series of mini-documentaries about the making of the film and a very funny new short, SUPER RHINO, starring the breakout character, though the pop culture reference at the film's conclusion will become as dated as a MONKEES throwback. I suppose that's okay because it's a short and not the film itself.
And the film itself is very entertaining. While there is always comment about whether the voice work of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus was any better than that of an actor who specializes in voice work, they did not phone in their performances. Travolta enthusiastically treated this role as if it was his big break, when he could have done otherwise. And it's nice to hear the duo sing together.
The supporting characters, and their voices, steal the movie, which is nothing new in Disney films, including those from Walt's day. In addition to Disney artist-turned-voice artists Mark Walton (you have to love the guy when you see his reaction on the bonus material after getting the role) as Rhino the Hamster, Susie Essman is marvelous as Mittens (which was our cat's name too!). Even Diedrich Bader, whose voice work deserves more acclaim, makes the most of a very small role in the early portion of the film.
There are three versions of BOLT on DVD/Blu-Ray. The Blu-Ray version offers the movie in dazzling, wondrous glory on a Blu-Ray disc along with the extras, plus a standard DVD of the film plus a digital disc for free downloading. If you want the extras on standard DVD, you'll need the Deluxe DVD edition, which includes all of the above except Blu-Ray. There is also a standard single-disc DVD edition.
I wasn't expecting Bolt to be this much fun. I kept laughing out loud. One touching part late in the film made me tear up. And the visuals are virtuoso.
The story has lots of familiar touches. Its road trip plot channels The Incredible Journey. Pooch Bolt sincerely thinks he has true superhero powers, much like Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. The truth is that he is on a television series, and has been living a lie most of his life (The Truman Show, anyone?) His human, a preteen girl named Penny, is a child actress, although she truly loves Bolt and longs to give him a normal doggie life.
Although the plot could have been stronger, the visual effects and look of the film are amazing. I kept being distracted by the perfection on the screen. My poor daughter, who went with me to see the movie when it was released in theaters, had to endure me continually tapping her arm, saying "Did you see that?! The smoke looks REAL!" or "The rust on the train looks PERFECT!"
A number of scenes use techniques I learned about watching a Pixar documentary on the Wall-E DVD. It's about the imperfect lens, or how cameras have inherent limitations. Animation of course doesn't use cameras in the traditional way. Yet in Bolt you see example after example of the filmmakers enhancing the reality of the movie by building in imperfections that don't have to be there. For instance, in one shot Bolt looks up at the sunny sky. The screen shows the squared-off circles you'd see if you pointed a camera's lens into the sun. The film also uses variable depth of field, much like a cameraman does when shooting a live-action movie. It's as if a camera is adjusting its lens as the scene progresses.
Bolt is voiced by John Travolta, and Penny by Miley "Hannah Montana" Cyrus. Both these likable actors delivered true-life, believable characters. They even sing together in the closing duet, "I Thought I'd Lost You."
on March 27, 2009
I bought this when it was released to entertain my 10-year old nephew and 4-year old niece over spring break. Though my niece enjoyed it - she was even more enthralled by the Super Rhino short extra that's included on the CD(and that we had to watch 4 times to make her happy.)But, my 10-year old nephew, his grandmother and I truly enjoyed the movie (which we watched 3 times to make him happy!).
Having watched enough "family entertainment" animal movies that really only appeal to kids and make me just want to take a nap (like the "Beethoven" series and the recent "Hotel for Dogs") Bolt is a refreshing, engaging and contemporary change which entertains everyone.
Visually it's stunning and believable, with fun and relatable animated characters. Combine it with a nice-heart-warming message and a dog that learns to be a real dog from a cat and a hamster and you have a winner!
BOTTOM LINE: One of the best bets out there recently for true "whole family entertainment"!
When our second grandson was born, I was informed by my son, "That's it, Mom - we gave you two!" That was fine, since I was happy as could be with the two little munchkins they'd blessed my husband and I with. But, lo and behold, we received the wonderful surprise of a THIRD grandson 2 1/2 years later! Our latest little fella was just about 3 1/2 months old this past Christmas, and I was debating various gift ideas. Since I've babysat the older two grandsons since birth, we had such a stockpile of infant and toddler toys that our small home was bursting at the seams!
One of the positives about growing older is the benefit of perspective... although I'd love to shower him with oodles of new toys, the older ones were in perfectly good shape and - really - how many toys does one child need? So I settled on one actual toy, with the bulk of his gift being the beginnings of a collection of Walt Disney's animated DVDs... something his brothers could enjoy immediately, and that he'd grow into. We actually already had several that we purchased to accompany the "Cars" and "Planes" diecast collections we'd begun for our oldest grandson, so I just started with the latest Disney animated feature and started working my way back. I was able to fill up a nice sized box with about a dozen and a half of them (including "Bolt", with Amazon's $8.12 price being the best I could find), and my shopping was done! I'm quite sure he was more than happy to share his gift with his brothers! ;-)
So! This movie came out the year our oldest grandson was born, but we obviously didn't take him to see it (first time grandparents sometimes do crazy things, but I wasn't THAT crazy.) As I was researching the movie's plot, it sounded so familiar - I suddenly realized it was so similar to 1998's "The Truman Show" with Jim Carrey! If you're old enough to recall that movie, then you'll be familiar with the basic plot of this 2008 Disney movie. A white dog named Bolt (patterned after an American White Shepherd, but with features of a mixture of different dogs, and voiced by John Travolta) grows up on the set of a TV show that carries his name, about a dog with superpowers who rescues his "human", Penny (Miley Cirus), in each of the episodes. But similar to The Truman Show, Bolt has no idea that anyone is acting... he thinks this IS his life. After failing at a rescue attempt when he believes the evil Doctor Calico (Malcolm McDowell) has kidnapped Penny, he busts out of the sound stage into the real world, travels with a couple of characters - an alley cat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and a hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton) - and has an identity crisis when he discovers he's just a regular dog. He can't shake the belief that Penny truly does love him, and along with his buddies, makes his way back to Hollywood just in time to save Penny from a fire that his look-a-like stand-in has accidentally set. She ends up adopting his buddies, they decide they're through with Hollywood, and move on to a peaceful life in the country.
Although this film wasn't a huge box office success, it was the first animated feature film to use a technique called "non-photorealistic rendering", which apparently - unlike the typical computer graphics - uses paintings, drawings, illustrations and animated cartoons as its inspiration. Though it lost out to WALL-E when it came to the Academy Award for best animated feature, it earned a lot of critical acclaim, and was the first animated feature film John Lasseter had complete control over (and we're well familiar with his work, as "Cars" and "Planes" fans!) The song "I Thought I Lost You" was also a Golden Globe nominee for best original song.
Although our oldest grandson is half way through first grade and we no longer get to see him on a daily basis, we enjoy having him on his days off school, for an occasional overnight, and - with spring and summer vacations coming up - it looks like there will be some popcorn and movie dates in our future with our three little guys! (THREE, at least, for NOW... ya never know!)
on October 25, 2011
Bolt is a great Disney film with great animation, interesting and funny characters and a touching story. Continuing the trend that began with Meet the Robinsons, Bolt delivers good quality entertainment and although is not an instant classic and some themes may recall other films (Toy Story), it's strong enough to be enjoyed on its own. Bolt is a star in show where he has super powers. Everything is well only that Bolt does not know he is a TV show, he thinks everything is real. When a problem arises, Bolt is left in the Big City and must go back to his owner, Penny but being a normal dog. In the travel, he meets a cynic cat named Mittens and a fan hamster named Rhino. Together they embark on an adventure to return to Penny and becoming friends in the process.
Bolt is a very straightforward film but it's well done so you will enjoy it with your family very much.
Video & Audio
Unsurprisingly, Bolt looks and sound amazing on BD. The transfer is pristine and colors leap off the screen. Likewise the 5.1 DTS-HD MA is strong, dynamic and clear in every scene. A knockout presentation through and through.
Bolt does not come with a lot of bonus material but what is included is nice and interesting:
First of all, you have the featurette "Act, Speak! The Voices of Bolt that deals with the voice cast in the movie mainly John Travolta and Miley Cyrus.
"Creating the World of Bolt" deals with the film visuals and the artistic decisions that were made.
"A new Breed of Directors, a Filmmakers Journey" Deals with rookie directors Byron Howard and Chris Williams as they talk about their experience doing the film and the pressures of being directors for the first time.
"Super Rhino" is a fun short featuring the lovable hamster.
You also have galleries, two music videos and games.
A DVD copy is also included.
Bolt is a great entertaining film that will delight the entire family. The film has great characters, an interesting story and is funny. This BD set offers amazing Video and Audio and a nice quality of bonus material. Highly Recommended.
on January 22, 2014
I saw this in the theater with my son, probably the last animated movie we watched together at a theater. He got to that age where it wasn't cool to be with mom at a theater. I love this movie as well as the memories it brings back. Great for kids and adults alike. I loved the idea of "Lassie" thinking he was a real hero rather than an "actor." Of course, the hamster does steal the show. Enjoy!
on February 25, 2014
My dog (Daphne, American Eskimo, Eskie) believe it or not loves to watch TV especially when there are dogs and cats in a movie or on television program. She jumps on our bed and has her eyes glued to the tube. Well, we both watched Bolt and we were so glad we purchased this movie. We didn't want to pause it and run to the kitchen for a snack as we were so involved in this cute movie. I liked it that they had John Travolta as Bolts voice over. Mylie Cyrus they could have left out of the movie and someone else to do Penny the little girl. Not a Mylie Cyrus lover what so ever as she does not have a good reputation. But what I liked about the movie was how Penny showed a great concern for her little dog. Now, in the movie it is said that Bolt really wasn't her dog, but Daphne and I failed to believe this. Penny really loves that little dog. It's a good movie for kids and even pets. The movie shows how much love a pet can bring to all of us and how a child can learn to care for their pet. Penny never gives up on finding Bolt.
Anyway, Daphne gives this movie a 4 paws up. You will have to see this movie. I can see why it has such high rating and it well deserves those high ratings.
Perfectly average entertainment as far as I am concerned, but my girls (five and eight) both seem to adore this one. The star score is an average.
The premise is intriguing enough: TV Hero dog thinks he is actually a hero and has to cope in the real world when he is accidently shipped across country in a FedEx box (don't ask...). There are some fun characters: the pigeons in particular, but the main supporting cast of the cat and the hamster grate on my nerves pretty quickly, if in benign ways. The human characters, bit players ultimately, are either bland or annoying (the latter intentionally, I think). The music is most definitely C-list, but not so bad as to need to cover your ears - again, mostly just bland.
My girls, on the other hand, find this very entertaining and think the hamster is a riot. And since there is nothing here I particularly object to, other than the blandness, I don't kick when they want to watch it once in a while. I just do something else, generally.
I'm going to go out on a HUGE limb here and say that the film that should have won that 2008 Oscar for Best Animated Feature was `Bolt'. I know, I know; `Wall-E' is wonderful, but for me that particular film falls a bit short with it's unoriginal and wildly clichéd ending (besides, of Pixar's three year winning streak, `Wall-E' was BY FAR the weakest link). `Bolt', while not free from its own set of clichés, never once disappointed me. I laughed, I cried, I was concerned, I was intrigued, I was tense, I was jovial; everything I could have ever wanted in a cartoon (NO, never use that word) was found in `Bolt'.
The film tells the story of Bolt, a television super-dog who doesn't realize he isn't really a super-dog. He has been raised to fully believe he has superpowers and that his `person' Penny is truly in danger. So, when the television studio takes a risk and decides to leave the audience with a cliffhanger (Penny's capture by the evil Dr. Calico), Bolt escapes into the real world in order to rescue Penny himself.
Once in the real world, Bolt soon realizes that he is far from the super-dog he thought he was. What he learns though, is that he is an even bigger super-dog than the television show let-on.
This lovely little film definitely wins points for addressing the emptiness of celebrity without every going over the top ("nope, never seen him before in my life"). It also would certainly make PETA very happy with its stern take on the abandonment of animals (I actually teared up during Mittens' big reveal). At heart though, this film is all about the power of love and loyalty (dogs are noted for their loyalty). The film teaches the valuable lesson that, if we believe, we can achieve. Bolt suffers a huge blow when he realizes his powers are fake, but the real power he possesses is his heart, and that `weapon' is more powerful than any super-bark could be.
The film manages to evoke a lot of emotional responses, and it understands how to make everything fit together well. The film has its intense moments, which could be a tad scary for kids, but the overall feel to the film is a jovial and heartwarming one. The films opening is particularly well done (it's like a movie inside a movie), but the high opening doesn't give way to any sort of a let-down.
The film just keeps getting better and better.
The voice work here is also great. John Travolta has a voice suited for this kind of work. I was pleasantly surprised. Miley is rather unrecognizable, but whatever (she's not really in the film too much). For me, the standouts were Mark Walton and Susie Essman. They were hysterical, and Essman had the right amount of earnestness to make her character's arc truly touching.
Yes, this film has its share of clichés (I mean, Rhino is a cliché in himself, but a really funny one), and the Hollywoodized happy ending was expected (this is a film about Hollywood in a way) but it is also totally welcome here. This film embraces and embellishes its own faults to make something beautiful out of them.
Like I said, this film, for me, was better than `Wall-E'.