|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Friday, 20 March 2009|
Bolt is a cute and cuddly puppy that gets adopted from a pet store by Penny. The film jumps to five years in the future when Bolt is battling the evil one green-eyed man and protecting Penny from harm. Of course, all this is a television show. The catch is, Bolt doesn't know it. He believes everything is real. After every show Bolt is kept in his trailer, never seeing the outside world.
When the network decides that something dramatic needs to happen, Penny is left kidnapped at the end of the show, causing Bolt to panic. He flails through the studio corridors and lands himself in a shipping box that is headed for New York. Upon being unwrapped, he immediately resumes his quest to find Penny. With a little forced help from some pigeons and an alley cat, Mittens, Bolt finds himself journeying back to Hollywood, California.
Bolt and Mittens find a convenient U-Haul truck heading for Hollywood. However, Bolt deems those packing peanuts as weakening objects, and when they are discovered in the truck, he bolts (no pun intended) from the truck, dragging Mittens with him. So, this is the start of their journey across the nation. They pick up a stray, Rhino, a hamster in a bubble along the way. Mittens is finally able to convince Bolt that he is a television star and that none of his powers are real. A wonderful montage shows Mittens teaching Bolt how to be a real dog and not an actor.
Still, Bolt persists and finding his person, Penny. Mittens, disgusted, tells Bolt to leave. When Bolt returns to the studio, he finds Penny in the arms of another puppy that looks just like Bolt. But don't worry, Disney films always works out.
The story is really neat. It flows nicely and the characters are lovable. I do take issue with the packing peanuts thing. It is pretty dumb, but hey, the writers had to advance the story somehow. Once we move past that, the film is strong. However, the biggest weakness I find with the film is Bolt is voiced by John Travolta. The vocal sound just doesn't match the personality of Bolt. It would be like having my fun, little puppy start speaking with Barry White's voice. It just doesn't match the image. Other than that, this is a pretty darn good film. Miley Cyrus has brief role as the voice of Penny, and does a beautiful job with that.
The video on this Blu-ray is encoded with AVC/MPEG-4 and a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Plain and simply, the video transfer is flawless. It is hard to fault any animated film that lies purely in the digital domain. The black levels are spot on, the contrast is spot on, the colors are vibrant, and of course there is nothing in the way of dirt, dust or blemishes. Obviously there is not digital noise reduction or edge enhancement. The image is just perfect. The only criticism I have, doesn't have to do with the transfer, but rather than some of the painted backgrounds are a little cheesy, lacking drawn dimensions. Other than that, the details and textures are fabulous.
As with the picture, the audio transfer is flawless as well. Right from the get-go I knew the audio was going to be fantastic. Disney has implemented a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track for this Blu-ray release, deviating from their normal uncompressed PCM tracks. The most notable aspect of this track is the LFE channel. It is thumping. The opening chase sequence is truly demo material worthy. The dynamic range is superb, as is the frequency spectrum. All the objects are well balanced, music, effects and dialogue. The bass tames out a bit for the majority of the film until the riveting final sequences. The surrounds are constantly used, filled with music, ambience and discrete sound effects. It has been a long while since I felt completely engaged by the soundtrack. I was always immersed in this film. Truly fantastic.
As is customary with animated Disney Blu-ray releases, the Blu-ray package is loaded with extras. There are some cute featurettes, but nothing too substantial. Still, the overall presentation is terrific. The package comes with three discs. The first disc is the Blu-ray with the movie and special features. "Super Rhino" is a short film highlighting Bolt's sidekick Rhino, the Hamster. "In Session with John Travolta and Miley Cyrus" is a fun little feature with the two main voice stars of the film. There is a music video of "I Thought I Lost You" as performed by John Travolta and Miley Cyrus. "A New Breed of Directors: A Filmmakers' Journey" is a brief featurette on the new directors at Disney/Pixar. There is a selection of deleted scenes with optional introductions by the directors. Both deleted scenes are presented in a storyboard format. "Act, Speak! The Voices of 'Bolt'" is another featurette about the voice talents. "Creating the World of 'Bolt'" discusses the uses of CGI versus the painted technique. "Bolt's Be-Awesome Mission Game" is an interactive game exclusive to the Blu-ray. Lastly, the first disc is enhanced with an art gallery and BD-Live functionality.
Sadly, the film does not come with the 3-D version that was present in the theatrical release. Hopefully a Collector's Edition will be released in the future.
The second disc in the package is the DVD version of the film for the consumers who wish to "future-proof" their collection. The last disc in the box is the DisneyFile Digital Copy of the film.
"Bolt" is a family fun movie. It is a light and carefree. The video and audio quality are beyond spectacular. There is certainly demo material located in this release. Definitely pick this Blu-ray up.