STUNNING Visual Quality!
Dave | San Diego, CA | 03/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""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."
It's a keeper
Julie Neal | Sanibel Island, Fla. | 02/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.""
Under-rated-- Bolt is a great kids movie!
Lottiesmom | Maine | 10/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie did not do well at the theatre, due to some people being upset at a director change during the filming of the movie. But, for those of us unconcerned with office politics and more concerned with quality entertainment for our kids, this is a great little movie. Lessons about loyalty, friendship, understanding and bravery are deftly taught. Kids love it and it's very funny. As Mikey says, "Try it, you'll like it!""
Three versions of a wonderful new Disney film...
Gregory Ehrbar | Orlando, FL | 04/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.