Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Animated Film Catch-Up: Bolt

For those just joining us, every couple of years I rent every animated movie that I missed in the theatre that I had a mild interest in seeing, and watch them all in an insane lost weekend. I call this my "Animated Film Catch-Up".

Now, on this weekend, we come to Disney. Disney's still trying to find their legs in this computer animated film game. Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons never quite met the same level as The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast. Would their most recent attempt make the grade?


Animation Studio and Best Known Franchise: Walt Disney Feature Animation; traditional 2D animation.

Directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams

Starring the voices of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Malcolm McDowell, James Lipton, and Greg Germann.

The Source of My Mild Interest: Bolt had some quite well-publicized production difficulties. The project was originally known as American Dog, and was conceived by Lilo and Stitch director Chris Sanders. Then, there was a management change at Disney. John Lasseter, the head of Pixar, became the head of Disney animation. Lasseter and Sanders butted heads over the direction of American Dog, which ultimately ended with Sanders' dismissal from Disney. Many Lasseter-supervised revisions later, and American Dog became Bolt. Would Lasseter's touch bring about some of that magic that has made Pixar's films the ones to beat?

Plot: Bolt is a TV star! On TV, he plays a superpowered dog, constantly rescuing his owner, Penny. Thing is, though, Bolt thinks the whole thing is real...the he actually is a superdog. And then, Bolt manages to escape from the movie studio, and winds up all the way on the other side of the USA, in New York City. While there, he meets up with a streetsmart and embittered cat named Mittens. Bolt, thinking Mittens is an evil agent from the TV show, captures Mittens and forces her to help him get back to Hollywood. They also meet up with a hamster named Rhino, who is Bolt's biggest fan. Will Bolt snap free of his delusions? Will he be reunited with Penny? For, in the fake world of Hollywood, the only thing that's real is the love between a girl and her dog.

What I Liked: The animation is stunning. The pure technical quality is easily the match of Pixar. There is a genuine attempt at creating some real characters here...fleshing them out with their own traits and flaws. Most of it comes across really nice.

What I Didn't Like: Let's see here...two friends, making a cross-country trek to get back to their loving owner, one of them exists in a semi-delusional state making him think he's a fictional character. Why does this story seem so famil---IT'S TOY STORY!

Final Verdict: It's good, if a little familiar. You've still got a ways to go, Mr. Lasetter, before the successes at Disney match the successes you've had at Pixar.

3 Nibs

One more to go, and I still have enough weekend left to go outside and play!

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