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For super-dog Bolt, every day is filled with adventure, danger and intrigue - at least until the cameras stop rolling. When the canine star of a hit TV show is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City, he begins his biggest adventure yet - a cross-country journey through the real world. Armed only with the delusions that all his amazing feats and powers are real, and with the help of two unlikely traveling companions - a jaded, abandoned housecat named Mittens and TV-obsessed hamster in a plastic ball named Rhino - Bolt discovers he doesn't need superpowers to be a hero.
For more about Bolt 3D and the Bolt 3D Blu-ray release, see Bolt 3D Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 1, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Malcolm McDowell, James Lipton
Directors: Chris Williams, Byron Howard
» See full cast & crew
Bolt 3D Blu-ray Review
Sony partners with Disney to deliver a fairly impressive 3D exclusive...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 1, 2011
If Academy Award-winning filmmaker and Pixar-mastermind John Lasseter's 2006 promotion to Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar and Disney's animation studios proved anything, it's that the universe really does have a sense of justice. Even though Pixar was prepared to divorce from Disney and primed to become its own entity, Lasseter somehow nabbed everything he wanted and deserved for his brainchild, solidified his company's standings within the studio, and inherited the difficult task of righting Walt's once-proud ship and repairing Disney animation's lagging reputation. After sinking his teeth into Meet the Robinsons late in the game in 2006, convincing its director to scrap almost 60% of its scenes and reworking many key plot-points and characters to produce a surprisingly strong film, Lasseter turned his focus to Bolt, Walt Disney Animation Studio's 48th animated feature. The question, though, was could he possibly transplant that patented Pixar magic to a film helmed by two first-time directors in a struggling Disney division?
Super-powered, crime-fighting wonderdog, Bolt (voiced by John Travolta), regularly risks life and limb to protect his owner, Penny (a miscast Miley Cyrus), from a nefarious mad scientist named Dr. Calico (Malcolm McDowell). Or at least that's what an eccentric television director (James Lipton) wants the canine to believe. In reality, Bolt is little more than an entrenched method actor; a naive celebrity manipulated into believing he can leap endless chasms, fire laser beams from his eyes and route entire armies with a single bark. Sworn to secrecy, the cast and crew of this elaborate Truman Show production does everything in their power to ensure Bolt believes everything he sees. But when an episode cliffhanger leaves the loyal pup convinced that Penny has been kidnapped, he escapes his trailer and sets off to rescue her. Armed with the mistaken assumption that styrofoam has robbed him of his superpowers, he captures a cat (Susie Essman) he believes to be an agent of Dr. Calico, acquires the assistance of his biggest fan -- a bubble-bound hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton) -- and sets out to save Penny at all costs.
Unfortunately, the film's sharp premise is undermined by a mesmerizing opening sequence that leaves one wondering why Bolt wasn't simply the story of a super-powered dog. The early action is so thrilling and cleverly choreographed that the rest of the flick feels a bit empty and lifeless in its wake. Aside from the introduction of Rhino -- a terribly amusing addition to an otherwise uneven lineup of supporting characters -- the tale only perks back up when the opportunity for further superheroics presents itself. That's not to say Bolt is a failure; far from it. At its core is lovable pup who discovers his true qualities lie within; not in sonic barks or gravity-defying acrobatics. The value of the message is undeniable and children will certainly take something away from the film's humble collection of life lessons. It only helps that the relationships that evolve between Penny, Bolt, Mittens and Rhino are well-written, and wonderfully developed. Bolt proves himself to be as worthy of love as he is willing to give it, and Travolta, Essman, Walton and others make the most of their performances.
And Bolt's target audience -- the wide-eyed tots and bouncing grade-schoolers Disney has tucked beneath its wings -- will shrug off its disjointedness and hone in on the adventure, no matter how high it flies or slow it crawls. While certain themes will sail over young children's heads, Bolt's common heroics will be just as meaningful to kids as his more action-oriented antics. My son took the story at face value, never once complaining about the issues his aging old-man couldn't seem to work past. He did bury his head into my side on more than one occasion, and parents should be aware that the third act is fairly intense and potentially frightening. Ultimately, Bolt lacks that patented Pixar magic we've all grown to adore and feels much more like the standard Disney fare fans have grown accustomed to over the years. That said, it still manages to rise above the fray with genuine heart and soul.
Bolt 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Bolt's 3D Blu-ray release is, for the most part, a successful one. Its 1080p/MVC-encoded video presentation exhibits incredible depth and dimensionality; some of the best I've seen from the 3D version of a CG-animated release. Bolt's furry muzzle noses its way into your home theater, electricity crackles along clawed fingers that seem to reach out of the screen, deadly syringes shatter in blazing bursts of green goo, henchmen dangle precariously (and convincingly) from a bridge, helicopter debris showers down from above, sky scrapers stretch toward the skies, the unconscious remnants of an advancing evil army lay scattered across a desert that seems to go on forever... I could go on and on. Granted, the 3D eye-candy isn't as flashy or aggressive once Bolt steps out into the real world, but even then, the movie sets, city parks, country fields, sleepy rest stops and colorful cross-country hotspots the not-so-superpowered pup encounters boast the same absorbing 3D oomph that enhances the film's action scenes and superheroics. However, that depth comes at a slight cost. Faint but frequent cross-talk (or ghosting, as it's more commonly known) appears throughout the film, occasionally drawing attention away from the otherwise striking imagery on display. It isn't an obvious or excessive issue, nor does it derail the entire presentation. In fact, you'll need to focus your attention on the film's backgrounds to see it at all. But there it is, disrupting the monitors behind the Director as he lectures Mindy From the Network; splitting the small lettering on Penny's camera; stirring the grass as Mittens strolls by; licking the flames during Bolt's daring third-act rescue.
Otherwise, I don't have a single complaint. Like its 2D counterpart, Bolt's 3D debut dazzles. Colors are warm and summery, contrast is bright and consistent, clarity is outstanding, hair and fur are refined, and the film's painterly backdrops are as gorgeous as ever. And while detail isn't as tack-sharp as newcomers might expect, most every instance of softness traces back to the filmmaker's intentions. Moreover, I didn't catch sight of any significant compression artifacts or digital anomalies, and what little banding I noticed was entirely negligible. All things considered, Bolt looks great in 3D and should easily please 3D fans of all ages.
Bolt 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
From the opening volley of its high-speed city-street chase to the raging inferno of its harrowing climax, Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track will blow you and your family away. LFE output is supercharged and superpowered, shaking the floor and rattling the windows with every satisfying explosion, crashing helicopter, hurtling train and collapsing ceiling the film has to offer. Not to be outdone, the rear speakers make sure they're not forgotten, actively and aggressively launching an attack on the senses. Laser-guided directional effects whiz from channel to channel, traffic separates and swerves past the listener, wind-swept forests and desert battles are wholly enveloping, and every studio set, mobile home and open countryside sounds exactly as it should. Dynamics pack the heaviest punches and capture the tiniest sonic touches, pans are so transparent they're practically invisible, and dialogue is crisp, clean and impeccably prioritized, no matter how quiet or bombastic Bolt's adventure becomes. Kudos to Disney on granting yet another animated release with a thoroughly engrossing lossless audio mix.
Bolt 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The exclusive 3D release of Bolt doesn't include any special features.
Bolt 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
With Sony's exclusive 3D release of Bolt, the proud pup leaps into the real world and into your home theater, all in glorious 3D. Some ghosting trips up the film's video transfer, but not enough to prevent Bolt from making a sizable impact, especially with such a powerful DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track backing its every move. The only real disappointment is that the disc doesn't include a single special feature, not even Disney's 5-minute "Rhino Attack" short. Still, while Bolt 3D is a Sony-TV exclusive at the moment, it probably won't be long until it earns a standalone release. In the meantime, those who are interested can snag a copy of Bolt's 3D exclusive release on Amazon or eBay for less than $30.
Bolt: Other Editions
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