Bolt (2009)

Last year the most talked-about animated film was Wall-E, and as a result, it wasthe only one I saw. I’m sad that that may have been the case for others as well, because Bolt is a solid entry in Disney’s CGI-animated film canon.

Bolt is about a dog who has been led to believe he has super powers, although in reality, people are just faking everything for him and filming it for a television show. Bolt ends up across the country in a questionably short period of time, then has to make his way back with the help of an alley cat and a hyped-up hamster.

The plot is pretty generic, but the whole concept of a dog being fooled into thinking he has super powers is pretty interesting to me. I had no idea that that was the plot for this movie, so I was tricked a few times before learning what was actually going on. Although it’s not the most amazing of storylines, the plot unfolds at a very efficient pace, never lingering around in any one location for too long. It’s very economic with its material, and it’s nice to see a film that is edited efficiently.

Visually, Bolt is very pleasing. It looks very well-animated, with some impressive details to most of its characters. The designs were satisfying; they actually looked like the animals they were supposed to be, albeit with larger heads (which I suspect is to enhance cuteness). Even better, they behaved and moved accurately as well. Although I’m glad Disney tried out traditional animation with Princess and the Frog, I won’t mind their return to CGI if their future efforts look as good as Bolt.

The characters are part of the film’s appeal as well. John Travolta voices Bolt, and though Travolta is now in his 50s, his voice is gentle and curious, fitting perfectly with the part of this young but brave dog. I was initially skeptical toward the character Rhino the hamster, but he ended up being a refreshingly resourceful and endearing addition instead of the bumbling annoying sidekick I imagined. I was also worried about Miley Cyrus’ presence ruining the film for me, but her character is surprisingly absent a majority of the film, and when she’s around she actually does a decent job. There were also a bunch of different pigeons throughout the film, and all of them were a treat as well.

Above all, this movie is good at being feel-good. It’s a very uplifting and happy tale that never tries to get cheap emotion out of its audience. It’s heartfelt in addition to looking fantastic and being efficient with its plot. It’s sad that Bolt was overshadowed by Wall-E, because it’s worth taking a look at, even if it isn’t groundbreaking.

Final rating: 8/10

–James A. Janisse





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