When I first heard about this movie, I was looking forward to seeing it because I almost always enjoy the films from Disney. Then I found out the voice acting was going to be done by John Travolta and Miley Cyrus… my hopes faded quickly. Why? Because many times I find I can't really get into a story if I can easily recognize the voices behind the animated characters. BUT much to my surprise, I was able to watch this picture from beginning to end and I enjoyed it. Hats off to Cyrus and Travolta, however, let me tell you a bit more about BOLT…
BOLT – The Story
The movie opens with an action scene like something from The Incredibles, with a young girl named Penny (Miley Cyrus) and her beloved dog BOLT (John Travolta) being chased by the henchmen of the evil Dr. Calico (Malcolm McDowell). Penny's father has been kidnapped by the Dr. so that he will reveal his scientific secrets as to how BOLT was transformed into a special canine with super powers. Of course, none of this is real because both Penny and BOLT are actually the stars of a TV show, but BOLT thinks the entire thing is real. The producers of the show never let BOLT leave the set because they want him to act as if everything he experiences is real and have him put on the best performance possible. Sounds a bit like The Truman Show.
But after an episode in which BOLT thinks Penny is really kidnapped, he finds his way out of the studio and accidentally shipped all the way across the country. He is out in the real world for the first time and still thinks he has super powers. During his trek to find his way back to Penny, he befriends a street-smart cat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and an outrageously funny hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton). Mittens helps BOLT cope with the real world and the reality that he doesn't have super powers, while Rhino (who happens to be BOLT's biggest fan because of sitting in front of TV most of his life) becomes BOLT's sidekick. As soon as Rhino enters the picture, the fun and the laughs are pretty much non-stop. His character really rounded out the movie and made it enjoyable for all ages.
BOLT – The Blu-ray Experience
If you opt for the Blu-ray edition of BOLT, you get a three-disc package with the movie not only on Blu-ray but on DVD (which is helpful when you don't have a Blu-ray player handy) as well as a digital copy (which is compatible with both Mac and PC). The DVD and digital copy are standard definition.
To get the high-definition experience, you must watch the Blu-ray disc in a Blu-ray player with an HDTV. The video and sound for this film are incredible. Even though this is an animated film and done with CGI, it has the unique aspect of including painted backgrounds. This difference really shines through in the high-definition version. Colors are very vivid and all the scenes are nicely detailed, letting you really become immersed in the story. Of course, the uncompressed 5.1 surround sound audio helps as well. The soundtrack was constructed entirely in the studio, but if you closed your eyes, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Every scene is filled with all the appropriate sound effects, and the musical score provides superb support to the storyline (including the short music montage towards the end).
BOLT – The BONUS Features
There are number of extras provided in BOLT, but unfortunately, most of them are very short. Of course, this title is geared toward children, so the content actually works well for their attention span. Featurettes include a five minute interview with the directors, a nine minute behind-the-scenes clip with the voice talent discussing their characters, and a very interesting look into how the visuals in the movie were created. Also included are a music video with Cyrus and Travolta singing, a couple of deleted scenes, and a short film starring Rhino in his own adventure (which is the best of all the bonus features). Interactive bonus features include an HD art gallery and an interactive arcade game in which you control BOLT through three levels of platform gameplay. I like the idea of the game, but it's a bit difficult to control with a regular remote. The usual BD-Live features (such as Movie Chat, Movie Challenge, Movie Mail, and Movie Rewards) are here (like with most Disney Blu-ray titles), but at the time of this writing there are no specific BOLT BD-Live extras.
BOLT – A Hero at Heart
As I mentioned earlier, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I didn't think I was going to like it, but again, kudos go to Cyrus and Travolta for doing a great job with the voice acting, thus allowing viewers to become immersed in the story rather than distracted by their voices. BOLT provides a nice story that kids will love and adults will enjoy because of the humor… especially that provided by the Rhino character. The extras don't provide much for adults, but kids will surely enjoy those as well. So, from a kid's perspective and in the immortal words of Rhino "The Wolverine" hamster, BOLT is fully awesome!