BOLT: Now There's Hope For Disney
BOLT (animated adventure comedy)
Voices: John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Malcolm McDowell, James Lipton and Greg Germann
Directors: Byron Howard and Chris Williams
Time: 96 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: After being beaten at the box-office by Pixar's 'Wall-E', 'Finding Nemo' and 'Ratatouille', there's now hope for the underdog. 'Bolt' is the first animated Disney film made after John Lasseter of Pixar took over Walt Disney Pictures. It was originally conceived by the guys at Disney animation studios but rewritten after Lasseter took over, giving it "the best of both worlds". As it turns out, 'Bolt' is frisky, funny and creative enough to win over kids and adults alike.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT? Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is a canine action star of a popular TV series that has his own name. Since puppyhood, Bolt spends his day defending his 'person' Penny (Miley Cyrus of 'Hannah Montana' series) from all sorts of villains with his 'superpowers' like heat vision, karate-chops, and super bark. Of course, these are all studio effects but who can blame him if he thinks that he really has those superpowers?
One day, however, Bolt finds himself accidentally shipped to New York City. From there, he must make his 'Homeward Bound' odyssey to California and soothe the worried Penny. Taking a street cat named Mittens (Susie Essman) as his prisoner, Bolt is forced to confront a world where his powers are non-existent. Teaming up with an admirer, Rhino the hamster (Mark Walton), the trio trek across the country, with Mittens teaching Bolt the realities of life as a nor dog.
WHAT'S COOL & WHAT'S NOT: The plot of 'Bolt' looks derivative: it is a doggie-version of 'The Truman Show' combined with 'Homeward Bound' and other road trip cliches. However, it is energetic fun with a bit of wit and quite a few laughs. Travolta breathes life and naivety into the canine protagonist while Cyrus provides a familiar, children-friendly voice for Penny.
The show stealers are the pigeons (who are the equivalent of the Penguins in 'Madagascar') and the amusingly manic Rhino who gets the best lines and gags. Remember to stay back for the Cyrus-Travolta duet, "I Thought I Lost You," at the end credits.
THE LOWDOWN: Try to catch 'Bolt' in its 3-D version at selected cineplexes. The 3-D effects are quite easy on the eyes.