Though there are certainly annoyances in Disney’s latest animated feature, I have not enjoyed a family movie this much since Pixar’s Monsters Inc. Bolt, while certainly enjoyable as a piece of narrative in its own right, also offers a peek into the future of the movie business.
As far as the storytelling goes, the plot is nothing special — a road movie. A straight ripoff/homage of Lassie Come Home, with a little po-mo movie-within-a-movie twist. Bolt thinks he’s a superhero because the crew of the TV show he appears on wants to preserve his method acting. When an evil executive attempts to corrupt the purity of the process, a shoot goes terribly awry, and Bolt is accidently shipped from LA to New York.
There he gets hitched to a saucy cat named Mittens. Rhino, a hamster of some kind voiced hilariously by animator Mark Walton, rounds out the samurai squad. They have cross-country misadventures before the inevitable reunion with those who care.
This may seem like a luke-warm review of a movie that I characterize as a “must-see.” did I mention that it is 3-D? Holy crap! Why on earth would a family of 5 with a gigantic plasma and surround sound at home, schlep to the local google-plex and pay outrageous box office? See Bolt in 3-D and that question will be thoroughly answered. The polarized 3-D here is absolutely gorgeous, completely immersing you in the animator’s world. The opening sequence is as thrilling as any ride at WDW. Seriously.
The effect here is not over-the-top constant missiles coming at your face (this movie has to work in 2-D as well, given the dearth of theaters rigged with the right projection gear). Rather, it’s the land and cityscapes that benefit the most from the technology. The environments are a silent character in this movie. And they rock.
The whole experience had me envisioning movie theaters of the future looking a lot more like theme parks — destination where families spend an afternoon. Maybe it was sticker shock. Taking my family plus two friends cost more than a Benjamin! Sheesh.
A few other quibbles. John Travolta drives me nuts; dude’s a Hollywood Scientologist Cyborg from the planet Smug Self Congratulation. But I got over it. Also, the final scene, where the heroes find peace with Miley Cyrus in the authenticity of the country, far away from the glare of Hollywood is obnoxiously patronizing and disingenuous. I’m sure everybody on that project has since plumped up and retired to a farmhouse outside Des Moines. Blech.
Whatever. Your kids will know better than to take this movie that seriously anyway. They’ll just have an amazing ride.