Sunday, February 08, 2009
Darkmatters Film Review - BOLT
Dir. Byron Howard and Chris Williams
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
How awesome is your dog?
Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is a pretty awesome mutt by anyone’s standards – the brave and invincible, laser eyed star of his own TV show. Bolt might look cute but he’s all hero, willing to fight any enemy, risk any danger and face any peril to save his owner Penny (voiced by Miley ‘Disney tweenie singing sensation’ Cyrus).
This new 3D CGI animated adventure is the first release by Disney Animation Studios since they nabbed John ‘Toy Story’ Lasseter from Pixar. It certainly starts strongly with an impressive extended action sequence where Bolt battles the forces of the evil Dr Calico (a nicely sinister Malcolm McDowell). Trouble starts however when Bolt finds his way off the TV set which has been his life – the poor little guy really thinks he has superpowers because the TV producers keep him away from the real world. But believing that Penny has been kidnapped Bolt suddenly finds himself completely unprepared for realities such as not being able to leap from moving trains or head butt oncoming vehicles without taking so much as a scratch.
Facing up to the fact that he's just a normal dog is painful but he teams up with a streetwise alley cat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and a scene stealing hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton). This being Disney we are force fed the obligatory moralising sentiment that anyone can be hero even if they don’t have superpowers. And true to form young Bolt and his pals overcome a series of comical adversity in order to save Penny and find happiness. There are many fun minor characters thrown into the fairly predictable story – my pick of the bunch being a group of wise guy pigeons who try to pitch their plot ideas for a Bolt episode to him en route.
First time directing team Howard and Williams do a good enough job but opt to play it safe where a ‘true’ Pixar film might have taken more risks. It all looks sparkly and the 3D effects work well. There are some smart lines and enough pratfalls to keep the youngsters entertained even if adults might find it a bit tame overall.
My son James (8) said: “I thought that it was a great film, the action scenes at the beginning were brilliant even though it got a bit slow in parts. My favourite character was Bolt the super dog, I hope they make a Bolt 2. I’d give this 4 out of 5.”
Thanks son - I'm gonna give it an Arbitrary Darkmatters final rating of: öööööö (6 - Decent)
Darkmatters quick reference guide: Action 7, Style 7, Babes 4, Comedy 7, Spiritual Enlightenment 6
+ Is it a bird, is it a plane? No... it's dog!?
Best lines: Bolt: "Stay back! If I stare at the lock really hard, it'll burst into flames and melt."Mittens: "Now I'm concerned on a number of levels."