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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 and the Bolt Blu-ray release, see Bolt Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 23, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 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 Blu-ray Review
Does Disney's super-powered canine fly or falter in high definition?
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 23, 2009
If Academy Award-winning filmmaker and Pixar-mastermind John Lasseter's promotion to Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar and Disney animation studios proved anything, it's that the universe really does have a sense of justice. Even though Pixar was nearly divorced from Disney and primed to become its own entity, Lasseter somehow nabbed everything he wanted 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 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Before I even laid eyes on Bolt's phenomenal 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer, I already had a sense of everything I would probably end up writing about it. After all, Disney's nothing if not consistent when it comes to the visual quality and clarity of their animated Blu-ray releases. So it was that from the moment the ever-classy Walt Disney Animation Studios logo faded away to reveal an inviting pet-shop window, the hair on my arms and neck stood up. What followed was an onslaught of perfection that held my attention far more intently than the movie itself -- colors oozed off the screen, black levels were as dark and deep as any I've seen, and contrast was absolutely flawless from beginning to end. More impressive was the exquisite fine detail crammed into every single frame. Ignore the realistic haze the film's lighting produces at times and concentrate on the individual strands of hair on each animal's back, the tightly stitched fabric of Penny's wardrobe, and the pause-it-and-stare nicks and cracks in the cityscape's brickwork. Better still, take note of the film's painterly skies and swirling brush-stroked trees, each gradient rendered with subtle care and evocative precision.
Once you've settled down and rubbed your eyes, try searching for instances of artifacting, digital noise, edge enhancement, banding, or any other technical or post-production nonsense that could possibly spoil the proceedings. Give up? That's because the high definition image is so impeccably clean that I didn't have a single negative gripe scribbled in my superlative-ridden notes. Make no mistake, dear readers, Bolt delivers one of the finest animated transfers... strike that... finest transfers I've ever had the privilege to review. I don't know what sinister magic the folks in Disney's Blu-ray division are wielding, but I hope they continue to produce masterful presentations of this caliber for years to come.
Bolt Blu-ray, Audio Quality
How does one make a direct comparison between a subversive, blood-soaked comicbook adaptation like Wanted and a warm-n-fuzzy family flick like Bolt? By focusing on the astonishing lossless audio tracks that grace both their Blu-ray releases, of course. Don't misunderstand: I expected Bolt to sound good, but I didn't expect my son to cover his ears, my cat to flee the room, and my wife to make her way downstairs to see what all the commotion was about.
From its opening volley of action to the raging fires of its harrowing climax, Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio track is the kind of sonic experience that will blow you away. Its LFE resonance and power is rivaled only by other top-tier mixes on the market -- explosions will rattle your windows, crashing helicopters will overwhelm you, and rumbling trains will appeal to your discerning sensibilities. Likewise, the rear speakers are aggressively engaged as the track creates an intensely satisfying and wholly immersive soundfield, all while bolstering each interior's already-convincing acoustic properties. Swerving traffic will naturally shoot across your home theater, the soft rustling of trees will envelope you from every direction, and, once again, you'll find it's quite difficult to complain about any of it. To top it all off, dialogue is crisp and refined, balanced nicely across the front speakers, and perfectly prioritized in the soundscape.
But wait... there's more! Directionality is spot on, the track's dynamic range packs heavy punches, and channel pans are smooth enough to trick the most hardened listener into spinning around to avoid whatever debris is raining down around them. I don't mean to exaggerate or fill my paragraphs with too much glowing praise (glancing at my notes, I realize they're more akin to a stalker's hand-scribbled love letter than a typical Blu-ray Disc review), but I simply can't get over the exceptional craftsmanship of Bolt's original sound design and resultant DTS-HD MA mix. I just wish I could mark both its video transfer and audio track even higher. Kudos Disney on yet another jaw-dropping, ear-shattering AV presentation.
Bolt Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Don't be fooled by Bolt's lengthy list of features. The back cover may imply its discs are brimming with material but, in actuality, the supplemental package fails to live up to the high standards Disney has set with other recent animated Blu-ray releases. Still, all of the video content is presented in high definition and families will enjoy the versatility afforded to them by this tri-format, catch-all release.
Bolt Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
For my money, Bolt's minor cinematic shortcomings and slightly squandered potential isn't damning enough to sully the exquisite AV presentation featured on the 3-disc Blu-ray edition of the film. Its consistently stunning video transfer and ground-rattling DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio are truly remarkable, dropping sights and sounds rarely seen or heard in animated releases (or any releases for that matter). Even an underwhelming supplemental package can't ruin the sheer impact of this disc. Rent it first if you're primarily concerned with evaluating the film, but open your wallet post-haste if you're already a fan or a Blu-ray enthusiast looking for the latest and greatest disc to showcase your home theater.
Bolt: Other Editions
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Bolt Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Bolt Becomes First Blu-ray to Come Out Before DVD - March 22, 2009
Today, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is releasing 'Bolt' on Blu-ray, two days before the DVD release. This three-disc set, which includes not only the film on Blu-ray, but also a DVD and digital copy, features a beautiful high definition transfer that ...
• Bolt Released for Blu-ray Before DVD - January 21, 2009
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the computer animated feature 'Bolt' to Blu-ray on March 22nd, two days before the DVD release. This is the first new release Blu-ray title to be released before the DVD, and will surely ...
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