Friday, April 26, 2013

Movie Review: Bolt

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Animation, characters, laughs, emotion
Cons: Plot is predictable but so much fun.
The Bottom Line:
New hero is born
And you will fully enjoy
Characters engage

Is Bolt Fully Awesome?  Nope.  It's Beyond Awesome!!!

In the last few years, Disney has begun to reclaim their former glory in the animation field.  True, their best films were the Pixar movies they released.  But Bolt is a movie released under the Disney banner that is everything you'd expect.  Looks like John Lasseter has the studio on the right track.

Penny's (Miley Cyrus) life is full of danger.  Her brilliant father has been kidnapped by the evil green eyed man.  Fortunately, she has Bolt to help her.  He's the family pet, but he's been enhanced with super strength, super speed, and the super bark.

Did I mention that Bolt is also a TV show?

The cast and crew work very hard to keep that secret from their canine star so they can get genuine emotion from him.  Thanks to no rehearsals or reshoots, Bolt (John Travolta) doesn't suspect that his powers come through trickery.

When the network insists that the TV show becomes edgier to attract the young adult crowd, the writers come up with a cliffhanger that leaves Penny and Bolt separated.  But Bolt doesn't understand and escapes his trailer to rescue his human.  Packed up and shipped from Los Angeles to New York, Bolt is on a mission.  Kidnapping an ally cat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and teaming up with a hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton) who lives in a ball, Bolt sets out cross country.  Will he learn his powers aren't real?  Will he ever reunite with Penny?

From the moment I saw the first preview, I couldn't wait to see this film.  And I was rewarded with an incredibly fun ride.  I had a smile on my face the entire time.  And I was laughing quite a bit at the lines or situations.  And this isn't a case where the best jokes were in the previews.  Yes, some of them were.  But there were plenty of other moments to laugh at.  I even found myself tearing up a couple times.

Why this movie works so well is the characters.  We connect with Penny and Bolt immediately and can't help but root for them to reunite.  Mittens and Rhino are great side kicks.  Rhino especially steals the show when he appears.  And all of them have genuine heart, so the emotions you feel as the film progresses are real.

In a fun twist, the animals can talk to each other, but not humans.  In fact, there are some great jokes based on that fact.

The only weakness the movie has is the story.  It's predictable.  In fact, there are easy comparisons between Bolt and Buzz Lightyear in the first Toy Story.  But the jokes and characters more then make up for it.  I was having such a good time, I didn't care that I suspected how things would turn out.

The voice talent shines.  Miley Cyrus is empathetic as Penny.  John Travolta brings Bolt to life.  But the real stars are Susan Essman and animator Mark Walton as Rhino.  I can't imagine anyone else doing such a perfect job of bringing those characters to life.

As you would expect, the computer animation is breathtaking.  I went out of my way to see this film in Disney Digital 3-D.  I'm glad I did because I enjoyed it.  There are several breathtaking shots and plenty of fun ones.  But if you only get to see it in 2-D, you aren't missing anything.  There are no cheap shots that take advantage of the 3-D technology.  In fact, I don't know if I would pay the extra and drive out of town to see a 3-D movie in the future.  I will certainly consider it once they get 3-D in my town.

This is a family friendly film that adults will enjoy just as much as their kids.  Bolt is a must see movie.

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