Sunday, January 04, 2009


Year: 2008
Director: Byron Howard & Chris Williams
Voice cast: John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton

I wasn't originally planning on watching this, but I had some free time yesterday evening, so I went to check out Disney's latest animated offering.

Bolt is the story of a canine named Bolt, the loyal and lovable pet of a girl named Penny. He's a super dog, who has super speed, heat vision and a super bark that destroys anything in its path. His duty is to protect Penny from the evil clutches of The Green Eyed Man, who holds Penny's father captive.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Well, that's because what I've just told you is a Hollywood script. Penny is just a girl on a TV show whose dog Bolt is the star, and on the show he is a super dog that constantly saves her from danger. What's even more interesting is the fact that Bolt thinks it's all real. He truly believes he's a super dog with powers, and that Penny is always in danger and he needs to dedicate himself to saving her life. And he believes it because the producers want him to be the ultimate dog actor.

But what happens when you take Bolt out of that fantasy? That's when the story kicks into high gear. An episode ends in a cliffhanger for the first time, and Bolt thinks Penny is in mortal danger when she really isn't. So he rushes out of the set to save her, and gets transported by accident across the country as a result. Bolt must now try to make it back home, thinking he has to rescue Penny, with the help of Mittens, a street smart stray cat, and Rhino, an overweight yet lovable hamster in a plastic ball, who just so happens to be Bolt's biggest fan, and thus truly believes he's a super dog.

Disney once again try their hand at animation without Pixar's help, and after the uninteresting Chicken Little and Meet The Robinsons, they finally hit the mark here. This story is rather familiar, kinda like Toy Story, where there's a character who has the wrong idea about his existence, and must find his way home. Nevertheless, it's a great tale and well executed. Kudos to directors Byron Howard and Chris Williams for creating a great film with likeable characters. I especially liked Rhino, who gets the lion's share of the laughs, and the pigeons Bolt meets along the way. You'll notice how stereotyped they are, from the Mafia speaking type to the wannabe scriptwriters type. It sounds weird, but when you see a bunch of birds playing characters like that, how would you not laugh?

John Travolta isn't well known for making voice contributions, unless you're talking about singing back in the 70s, but he gives enough depth to the heroic yet misguided Bolt. Miley Cyrus has a very identifiable voice, which is perfect for the role of Penny. Susie Essman and Mark Walton give able support as Mittens and Rhino respectively.

I'll have to admit that this film will appeal more to the younger audience, but as an adult, I had fun too. It's a nice feelgood film about friendship, loyalty and heroism. It's the kind of stuff Disney is well known for, so it's expected. I enjoyed it anyway. Catch it if you can. (4/5)

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