Friday, July 22, 2011

Canon Movie Review: Bolt

Here's a movie I decided to watch because, well I'm not sure exactly, the 2008 animated feature from Disney called Bolt. Directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams, Bolt features the voices of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Malcolm McDowell, James Lipton, Susie Essman, and the late, great Macho Man Randy Savage. In Bolt, a dog named Bolt (Travolta) that stars in a fictional sci-fi show starts to believe that his powers are real, and he also believes that his co-star Penny (Cyrus) was kidnapped by the evil Dr. Calico (McDowell). Somehow, Bolt falls in a box and is shipped to New York City, where he meets a stray cat named Mittens (Essman) and a hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton), who just happens to be Bolt's biggest fan. The three of them journey back to Hollywood in hopes of 'rescuing' Penny.

Bolt starts out with a bang, as Bolt and Penny race through a giant city escaping from Dr. Calico's army (the army seems as big as the Canadian army, btw). Bolt displays a wide array of super powers, including heat vision, super strength (he can flip a moving car over his head), super leaping abilities and his go to move, a super bark that can wipe out every building in a mile radius. Yes, Bolt is perhaps the most powerful dog in the history of fiction, but the problem is, he thinks it's all real, as he's trapped in a "Truman Show" type reality because the director believes that is the best manner for Bolt to deliver his best performance. This seems like it would take a lot of money and effort to pull off, but considering the Michael Bay-type action scene in the TV show, apparently this is a production company with an unlimited overhead. Plus, this seems to be an unethical and possibly illegal way of handling a dog, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, Bolt gets lost and takes Mittens as his prisoner because he believes that all cats are servants of Dr. Calico. Even though Bolt is completely oblivious to the world outside of him, he is rather resourceful and adapts somewhat quickly to his new surroundings, despite not having superpowers. Bolt and Mittens travel across the country, and eventually meet Rhino, a hamster in a ball who believes everything he sees on television is real, in an RV Park. The three make for an interesting trio, with Mittens serving as the voice of reason for the delusional Bolt and Rhino. Each of them are actually quite likeable in their own ways, with Bolt always showing loyalty to both Penny and Mittens and doing whatever he can to save them, Mittens being a streetwise, snarky feline who has seen too much to get her hopes up, and Rhino just happy to be hanging out with one of his heroes. Remarkably, each of them weren't annoying at all, even Rhino, who at first I thought I wouldn't like, but his constant optimism and gung-ho attitude won me over.

The movie explores a few themes, such as the evils that exist in Hollywood, what with the slimy agents, overbearing network executives and all. This coming from one of the biggest movie companies in the world. I guess somebody as Disney really hates talent agents, because the agent character here (voiced by Greg Germann) is a slimy character who would sell his own kids out (and admits this) and seems to be callous to the personal feelings of his clients. Overall, I'd say that the movie's satire of Hollywood was a bit heavy handed, but since it is a kid's movie, perhaps they felt that was the only way to get the point across. Something else I found interesting was that Penny seemed to feel trapped by starring in her own TV show and the lifestyle that goes with it, a situation that was not too different from her voice actor's situation with her show (Hannah Montana). Kind of ironic, no? Another theme that Bolt explores is the issue of pet abandonment, particularly in a heart-tugging tale told by Mittens that explains her cynical view towards humans.

Overall, even though you could guess the ending about 15 minutes in, Bolt is an entertaining film that features solid animation and some good voice acting, particularly by Travolta and Essman. While the story isn't revolutionary or anything, and the soundtrack included John Travolta singing, it is a solid tale and there a few laughs mixed in. Overall, I'd give it a 7.25 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this movie, or ideas for future reviews, then share those thoughts either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

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