Posted in: Disc Reviews by Athena on March 23rd, 2009
Hi, Athena here. Well, this is going to be my last post for the doggie movies at Upcomingdiscs. Gino says it’s time to retire. He says my investments need to be cashed in so I can take it easy, before they’re all gone. I guess that means someone’s trying to eat up my treats. They better watch out or I’m going to go Siberian Husky all over them. I may be 14 years old and a little slow, but my teeth work just fine. Just ask Baby. She’s the newest member of the family here, and I had to let her know who the boss is right away, if you know what I mean.
Anyway…enough about me; of course there can never really be enough about me. Let’s talk about the latest Disney animation film, and the latest in a long line of movie dogs, namely Bolt (Travolta). Now, when this movie starts you get to meet Bolt and his human friend, Penny (Cyrus). Penny’s some kind of a spy or something, ‘cept she’s not really very good at it. You see, the bad guy is about to catch her, and I don’t think he wants her to give her some belly rubs. So, supercharged Bolt comes to the rescue. Man, that dog’s almost as cool as a Siberian Husky. He’s got something called super powers. He can shoot laser beams from his eyes and run faster than a race car. He even has a super bark that can cause earthquakes. Gino says it sounds and feels a lot like when I snore at night. Of course, Bolt is some kind of a white shepherd, and while they tried to make him look a little like a Siberian Husky, he isn’t one, so you know he doesn’t really have these super powers. Trust me, if Baby doesn’t watch out, she’s gonna see some real super powers, and that spells B I T E. Bolt is really just the star of a television show. The only thing is no one told Bolt that. So, when he thinks Penny has been kidnapped by the show’s villain, the Green-Eyed Man (McDowell), Bolt goes into action. He escapes his studio trailer and heads out into the great unknown to rescue her, just like on the show. He ends up locked in a box and shipped all the way across the country. Now he has to get back to California, before, at least he thinks, the Green-Eyed Man can do something bad to Penny. Along the way he meets up with a cute kitten, named Mittens (Essman) who was abandoned by her family, so she doesn’t think too highly of humans. He also meets Rhino (Walton), a hamster in a ball, who is a huge fan of Bolt’s television show, and like Bolt, thinks it’s all real. Along the way Bolt finds out that he really is an ordinary dog, and not a Husky, after all. But, this is a Disney film, so Bolt finds out that you don’t have to have super powers to be a super hero. He might not really have to rescue Penny, but she misses him a whole lot and he needs to get back to her.
The voice casting was perfect for the movie. Gino tells me that the girl who does Penny is a singer named Miley Cyrus. I guess she’s all the rage with the teen girls. When I was a teen we were all nuts over Scooby Doo. Gino said he wasn’t sure she was a good fit for a cartoon voice, but by the time the movie was over we both agreed she did a very good job. The best character in the whole movie was the hamster, Rhino. Gino got to chat with Mark Walton for a while, and he seems like a fun and crazy guy, just like Rhino is. In fact, he said they told him to be himself. You know they even brought in a giant blow up hamster ball so the crew could walk around in it and see what it’s like. I’d like Gino to get me one of those. No, I don’t want to walk in it, but I’d like to put Baby in there. You can check out Gino’s talk with Mark and find out a whole lot more about the movie here: Interview. They talked for over an hour, and I can tell you that someone wasn’t getting any belly rubs the whole time. The characters are a lot of fun, and it looks like the humans who voiced them had fun, too. This movie is pretty funny, as well. There are jokes for both your pups and you big dogs out there. Gino says they really cut up those television spy shows like Alias. I don’t get to watch those kind of shows. Maybe I can watch more now that I’m retired. You’ll have a lot of fun watching this movie, and I know your pups will want to watch it over and over and over again. Hey, don’t call me, I’m retired.
The name on the film is Walt Disney, but it might as well say Pixar. Ever since Pixar was taken over by Disney (don’t get any ideas, Baby), Disney has put its animation studios in the hands of Pixar’s top dog, John Lasseter. So, you can expect the style and heart that has made the Pixar films so special to both humans and dogs. Unlike the huge Pixar movies, Bolt was made in a relatively short amount of time, and the directors, Byron Howard and Chris Williams, are really directing their first feature film. None of this shows in the film’s quality. This is a beautifully rendered feature with all of the barks and howls of a movie costing many times more and taking years to make. You get pulled into the story from the very beginning, and even though you know the opening sequence isn’t real, because the secret gets revealed in the trailers, you still want to see super Bolt in action before ordinary Bolt takes over. These guys did a super powered job of making the film run smoothly. It’s paced so well that my tail was waggin’ the entire time. I even got some drool on the theater floor. I’m gonna have to pay for that later. There are times the animation looks almost real; the only way you can tell is to try and smell it. That’s how the drool got on the screen, too. Yeah, I’m gonna have to pay for that, as well. It was worth it, though. I think that what makes it work the best, is the lighting. The animation team did such a wonderful job of capturing things like sunlight and reflections that you get fooled into thinking you’re watching live action sometimes. This is a fun kind of movie that your whole family can enjoy. And see if you don’t get fooled once or twice into thinking it’s real.
Bolt is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This is a very stunning 1080p image brought to you through a strong AVC/MPEG-4 codec. It doesn’t get much better than this. The image is flawless. As I’ve already told you, you will catch yourself thinking it’s real. Colors are very bright. Contrast is perfect. The animation lines are rock solid, and the black levels are blacker than my nose, and that’s really black. Gino says to tell you the bit rate is a very respectable 35mbps average. And don’t forget how perfectly the animation team captured the lighting. This is the kind of digital to digital project that these Blu-ray discs were made for. You could do a lot worse to show off your system.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 track does super powered job as well. It’s almost like I’m watching one of those action movies Gino likes to crank up the volume for. The bass is so strong it will actually seem a little unnerving for an animated adventure. Everything feels so full and powerful that it even puffed up the hairs on my tail. This all only adds to the idea that these guys were serious about making this feel real. You can hear all of the dialog. The John Powell score sounds like James Bond meets The Terminator. It really gets your heart racing. I was panting through the whole thing. Everything combines to put you right there with Bolt and his friends. Heck, I’m getting tired just thinking about it. The mix is as aggressive as a rabid dog on steroids, or Baby with a plush toy. Sounds come at you from everywhere. Gino says it’s like going on a ride at Disney. When it’s over you’re expecting someone to come along and lift up your lap bar. He had to settle for a lap dog…a big lap dog.
This version of Bolt includes a DVD and Digital Copy of the film.
All of these features are in HD.:
Super Rhino: This wasn’t with Bolt at the movies, but it’s a great little short, where Rhino gets to have the super power upgrade and save the day. It’s only 4 minutes, but it’s pretty cool.
Deleted Scenes: There are only 2 scenes, and they’re told through storyboard. There’s an intro for each by the two directors.
In Session With John Travolta and Miley Cyrus: It’s only about a minute, and it shows the 2 lip-synching for the music video.
Music Video: I Thought I Lost You: This is the music video for the movie’s catchy theme song.
Bolt’s Be Awesome Mission: Someone has tampered with Rhino’s DVD menu screen. Can you fix it in this interactive, but tedious game?
A New Breed Of Directors: This 4 minute piece looks at the two first time directors and gets their take on Bolt. You get to see the crew playing in that hamster ball I told you about.
Act, Speak – The Voices Of Bolt: This one runs about 10 minutes. It’s a look at the voice talent. They talk about their characters, and we get to see them doing some of the work. The guy who did Rhino wasn’t originally going to be the real voice, but he did so well they kept him. He was so excited. I wonder how many treats they paid him to do that?
Creating The World Of Bolt: The backgrounds in Bolt were intended to appear as paintings. This has been somewhat of a Disney tradition dating back to Pinocchio. You get to see some tests and watch the animation evolve over time.
Galleries finish off the meager features.
I had so much fun watching and writing about Bolt, I’m gonna miss these reviews. But a dog’s gotta take time out for herself, you know. Wait until you hit 14 and you’ll know what I’m talking about. But I couldn’t have picked a better movie to close my career on. You’re going to love Bolt, and it should be a part of everyone’s animation library. It goes to show that after almost 80 years, Disney still has the lead in animation features. It helps to have the Pixar team aboard. I hope you all have enjoyed my reviews. I’m gonna miss you guys a whole bunch. I think I might try out for one of those doggie movies. Who knows, maybe Gino will be writing a review about my movie someday. Mom wants Baby to write some reviews, but trust me, you don’t want to read any of those. You know why I got to do it, don’t you? “They always pick the cute ones”.
Gino’s lettin’ me have the last word, for once.