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Disney’s acquisition Pixar did a lot more than just bolster the studio’s bottom line, the positive Pixar influence rubbed off on Disney’s own brand of computer-animated productions. With it’s strong story, well developed characters and funny jibes at Hollywood types, that positive Pixar influence shows up more strongly on BOLT ($40), than it did on Disney’s last computer-animated MEET THE ROBINSONS. BOLT uses a TRUMAN SHOW like premise for its heartfelt action comedy story about a girl and her dog. As the film opens, a girl named Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus) adopts a pup named Bolt (voiced by John Travolta), which then segues into her scientist father transforming the dog into a super-powered canine protector for his daughter. Scientist daddy is then kidnapped by the evil Doctor Calico (voiced by Malcolm McDowell), which leaves Penny the next target of the nefarious villain. This scenario places Penny and Bolt on the run, moving from one action packed escape after another. Of course, all of this is just pretense for a television show, which The Director (voiced by James Lipton) feels he will get the best performance out of Bolt, as long as the dog believes that Penny is in real danger and that he is a canine superhero.

The twist comes when the storyline involves Peggy actually getting captured by the bad guys. Continuing to believe the danger is real, Bolt makes a real escape, only to knock himself out and wind up in a shipping box filled with Styrofoam, heading from Hollywood- all the way to New York City. As you might expect, Bolt finds himself a fish out of water without his "superpowers" and believing that Styrofoam is his equivalent of kryptonite. In New York, Bolt encounters a wisecracking alley cat named Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman), who he assumes is part of Doctor Calico’s organization. Wanting to get back to Penny, Bolt forces Mittens to assist him on his cross-country trek back to Hollywood and Doctor Calico’s lair. Along the way, Bolt and Mittens meet Rhino (voiced by Mark Walton), a fearless, overweight, TV-obsessed hamster, who happens to be huge Bolt fan, and is eager to assist his hero on his latest adventure. The vocal talent behind BOLT also features Greg Germann, Diedrich Bader, Nick Swardson, J.P. Manoux, Dan Fogelman, Kari Wahlgren, Chloe Moretz, Randy Savage, Ronn Moss, Grey DeLisle, Sean Donnellan, Lino DiSalvo, Todd Cummings, Tim Mertens, Kelly Hoover, Brian Stepanek, Jeff Bennett, Daran Norris and John Di Maggio.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made BOLT available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is gorgeous, and proof positive that high definition is the absolute best way to enjoy computer animated films at home. Image sharpness, clarity, dimensionality and detail are everything one could hope for from a CGI animated film transferred directly from the digital files- in other words, this is a stunning, demonstration worthy high definition presentation. Colors are completely vivid, deeply saturated and wholly stable. Blacks are absolutely pitch perfect, while the whites are totally pure. Contrast demonstrates the kind of smoothness that can only be created in the digital realm. As I stated above, the presentation comes directly from the digital files, so there is no grain, nor will one find any visual imperfections in the image.

BOLT is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Since so much of BOLT is action oriented, the highly aggressive sound design is a perfect complement to the superb visuals. All of the outlying channels engage nicely, with sound effects coming at the viewer from all sides, not to mention said effects effortlessly panning across the soundstage. Sonic environments are also nicely realized, thanks to plenty of atmospherics being directed to the rears, as well as the usual complement of musical fill. The bass channel is deep and percussive, adding impact to the action sequences and full force to the explosions. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track has also been provided, as has a Spanish 2.0 channel track. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Super Rhino is an animated short featuring our favorite hamster in his own adventure. Featurettes include the following programs: A New Breed Of Directors: A Filmmaker's Journey (five minutes), Creating The World Of Bolt (seven minutes) and Act, Speak! The Voices Of Bolt (nine minutes). Next we have a couple of Deleted Scenes with optional director’s introductions. A Music Video for the song I Thought I Lost You by Miley Cyrus and John Travolta is also provided. An Art Gallery of concept art and the Interactive Game: Bolt’s Be-Awesome Mission close out the standard supplements. BOLT is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, while disc three provides a Digital Copy of the film.

BOLT is a computer animated charmer that has been positively influenced by Disney’s acquisition of Pixar. The Blu-ray presentation is truly superb and earns a place of honor on the demo pile. Highly recommended.



Bolt (Three-Disc Edition w/ Standard DVD + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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