Newest Review: ... Penny in the real world with no one to help and seemingly failed super powers. With the aid of an opportunist cat called Mittens and super... more
A Bolt from the Meh
Member Name: samueltyler
Advantages: Great animation, fun in places. Rhino
Disadvantages: Too simple, lacks imagination
When Disney bought out Pixar it was more like Pixar taking over Disney Animation. The big mouse despite being wounded still had far more money that Pixar, but no longer the quality of staff. Therefore, head of Pixar, Steve Jobs, made Pixar's John Lassiter head of production at Disney Studios, almost like being paid to take over! In the past few years Disney had forgone traditional animation in favour of CGI that other studios were making profitable. The likes of 'Chicken Little' and 'Meet the Robinsons' did poorly at the box office so Disney turned to Lassiter and co. One of the first things Lassiter did was to re-establish traditional animation from Disney and oversee the production of 'Bolt' a large budget CGI film. Could some of the Pixar success rub off on Disney? Did they need the help when in my opinion 'Chicken Little' and 'Meet the Robinsons' are two of the best Disney films of the past 10 years?
Bolt is the canine star of one of the highest viewed shows on TV. In each weekly adventure he must save his owner, Penny, from an evil scientist and his cat cronies. To us the show is great entertainment, but for Bolt it is real. To make his actions authentic the creators of the show have trained him into thinking he has super powers! Imagine then what happens when Bolt finds himself separated from Penny in the real world with no one to help and seemingly failed super powers. With the aid of an opportunist cat called Mittens and super-fan Rhino (who happens to be a hamster) can Bolt return to Penny and will be ever realise that his life is not real?
Although the films of Pixar and Disney have both recently been CGI cartoons I feel they have not been aimed at the same markets. Disney specialises in films for kids and is unable to appeal to the adult market as much as Pixar. Recent triumphs like 'Ratatouille', 'Wall-e' and 'Up' show that Pixar make adult entertainment that also happened to please the kids. As a group Pixar are at their weakest when trying to aim at the younger audience e.g. 'Cars' and 'Finding Nemo'. Therefore, did Disney go down the adult route of the child route with 'Bolt'?
It is clear that 'Bolt' is a film for kids and it has a lot less to entertain adults as many modern CGI films. The surreal humour of Disney's past CGI films is gone; 'Robinsons' in particular was a wonderfully eccentric film. Replacing the surreal is the more traditional and bland approach to film telling. The story of 'Bolt' is incredibly linear and is obvious from the very start. Only a very small child yet versed in the art of cinema would be surprised with anything they see on the screen. Linearity is not an all together a bad thing, and there are enough jokes to make the film fun to watch at least once.
In terms of voice acting Disney have gone down the 'DreamWorks Animation' route of hiring big names that are not always the best at adding inflection to their voices. John Travolta is decent enough as Bolt, but does not stand out. Miley Cyrus is just there as Penny. It is unknown animator Mark Walton as hamster Rhino who stands out. This is someone who was hired for what he could bring to the quality of the film and not the front of the poster. Susie Essman also does a good job as Mittens proving that good comedians often make the best voice actors.
Another area that animation using CGI varies in quality is with the look of the film. The bigger the budget usually means the better the film looks. Some of the smaller CGI films are unable to keep up and look poorly textured and woodenly animated. This is not an issue with 'Bolt' as it looks fantastic, almost as good as Pixar's own films. I watched the film on BluRay and it looked excellent as the transfer really highlighted the vibrant colours of the world.
For me 'Bolt' is an interesting first foray for joint Disney/Pixar films, but nothing special. It seems to be trying to be both old fashioned Disney and classic Pixar, but ends up in the middle and being neither. The story is heartfelt and moments are funny, but the overall experience lacks the character or animation of the best in the field. 'Bolt' feels like an incredibly safe bet by Disney after their last two films flopped. By being so safe they lost the edge that they had started to build and reverted to the timid mediocrity that has dominated their output since 2000. This is not a bad film and is entertaining to watch once. However, it lacks the depth for repeat viewings and even children will find themselves drawn to better films.
Director: Bryon Howard and Chris Williams
Starring: John Travolta, Miley Cyrus et al.
Price: Amazon uk £16.98 (BluRay)
Play.com £17.99 (BluRay)
In what has to be one of the strangest extras ever you get the DVD of 'Bolt' with the BluRay! This means that there are two copies in the pack and you can watch it upstairs and down. This is added value for money, but surely if you buy a BluRay version of a film you expect to want to watch it in HD? Perhaps one copy is for best, the others for the kids to ruin!
This film is a PG and not the usual U cert. This is probably because of the various explosion and chase scenes; nothing to worry about for younger children imo.
There are plenty of additional featurettes as you would expect from a kid films as well as a fun mini adventure for Rhino. Not as good a collection as the best CGI cartoons provide on BluRay, but still better than most adult films.
Summary: Decent for Disney, but no Pixar
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