Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Well it’s about time Disney. After suffering, and I do mean that literally, through ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’ I was beginning to think that if Pixar wasn’t pulling the strings that the creative minds over there at Disney Film Studios had completely went vacant on how to create halfway decent family entertainment that could appeal to someone over the age of three. Even watching the trailer for the animated ‘Bolt’ didn’t fill me with all that much hope as it really wasn’t the best trailer I’ve seen but fortunately a good trailer a decent movie doesn’t make, and I gotta say that ‘Bolt’ was really, really good. Maybe not ‘Finding Nemo’ good, which I only throw in there because ‘Finding Nemo’ is quite simply the be all, end all in animated films from where I stand, but this doesn’t stop Bolt from being one of the finest of 2008 as the year comes to a close.

Bolt, voiced by John Travolta, is a Superdog. He and his person Penny (Miley Cyrus) have adventure after adventure doing battle with the evil Green-Eyed Man (Malcolm McDowell) and his equally evil pet cats. What we will come to find out is that Bolt is actually the star of his own weekly TV series but to keep Bolt in character the powers behind the series have Bolt convinced that he is actually a Superdog instead of the regular, everyday mangy mutt that he really is. Now Penny really loves her some Bolt and wants to take him home so he can be a regular dog but those selfish Network honks simply won’t hear it.

Some negative exit numbers have called for some changes in the show so instead of Bolt and Penny wrapping everything up after each episode, this particular show ends on a cliff-hanger leaving Bolt actually believing that Penny has been really captured by the Evil Green-eyed man. Not willing for a single second to leave his beloved person Penny in peril, Bolt escapes from his trailer desperate to save the girl, only to find

himself knocked unconscious and somehow Fed-exed across the country to New York City, much to the sadness of poor Penny who misses her delusional dog mightily.

Now Bolt’s real adventure begins as he finds himself in a strange land talking to a trio of South Bronx pigeons who lead him to the extorting cat Mittens (Susie Essman – who is awesome in this movie) a kitty the pigeons have managed to convince Bolt that she is the key to finding Penny and freeing her from her captors. Now in a quite the bad way and with Mittens suspecting that Bolt is completely off his rocker, she is forced to be dragged along, humoring Bolt as he attempts to make his way back to Hollywood to rescue Penny from those who intend to do her harm. Along the way they also pick up Bolt’s biggest fan, Rhino the Hamster (John Walton), who rolls along in a plastic ball and who has unwittingly alerted poor Mitten as to what Bolt’s main problem is, which is that he is a delusional TV star dog.

Gradually Bolt begins to learn his limitations but he also learns the value of friendship as he, Mitten and Rhino form quite the formidable trio, particularly the emotionally damaged Mitten who teaches Bolt all of the benefits to life as real dog. But Bolt misses Penny, and though Mitten attempts to tell Bolt that People in general are no good, doing stuff like moving away and abandoning de-clawed cats to fend for themselves on the harsh New York streets, Bolt soldiers on. And not a moment too soon as the dog who was once super, who realized he was just average, must turn super once again and save the day!

The first thing that made ‘Bolt’ so gosh darned entertaining is that the voice acting in this film is just spectacular. John Travolta as Bolt was good, though he didn’t sound anything like Vinny Barbarino to me in this movie, but Susie Essman voicing Mittens and John Walton as Rhino were so strong that it almost brought tears to my eyes. And it would be criminal if we sold short the regional pigeons who provided some rather inspired comic relief to a movie that already pretty funny to begin with. As a matter of fact all of the dialog from the script written by Dan Fogelman and Chris Williams was so clever, smart and delivered by a host of talented voice actors in such a fast and witty way that you can almost enjoy the movie watching it with your eyes closed.

But if we do happen to be blessed with the gift of sight then we certainly want to use it to absorb the glorious visuals that directors Williams and Byron Howard have helped create in this film with its bright colors, fast moving action and the amazing motion capture, particular with the human characters who move better than any human characters I’ve seen in a CGI movie.

Yes, the movie is a bit on the predictable side as far as the major plot points go, and even the youngest amongst us will probably be able to figure out the inevitable conclusions that the film offers up but that’s a minor quibble since unpredictable would have to be Bolt getting run over by a bus, or at least something along those lines, before actually tracking down Penny, and who wants to see that? Who’s not sick in the head?

Truly a treat from beginning to end, and I only saw the 2D version so I can imagine how good the 3D version must’ve been for those wearing those silly glasses, ‘Bolt’ shows that those people at Disney might’ve started paying attention to how those geniuses down the hall at Pixar manage to get this thing right time after time after time.

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