Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Director: Byron Howard, Chris Williams
Bolt is like the 21st century version of Rin-Tin-Tin; geared with super canine powers and undying loyalty towards his master Penny he's always ready to battle the evil Dr. Calico and save the day.
At least until the director yells "cut" because Bolt is the star of a television show, something which he has no idea of. Everyone in the show makes sure that Bolt believes everything in the show is real, including his superpowers,
When network executives demand the show worries more about the feared 18-35 demographic, a cliffhanger that involves Penny being kidnapped sets Bolt loose on a cross country adventure where he does everything to reunite with his "person".
The film is the kind of family friendly fluff we've come to expect from Disney sans-Pixar which have become great looking, fun to watch, with a slight edge but without any transcendence.
"Bolt" features some truly breathtaking animation (the action scenes are better than most things released during the summer season) and the characters are homogeneously likable.
But the movie often turns too referential, something that has arguably become a thorn in the back of recent CGI animated films, instead of focusing on more timeless values to be funny or touching.
And at the center of everything is a conflict of interest between the message it sends out and the one it wants to send, because after glamorizing Hollywood life (every little kid watching this will want their pet to shoot laser beams out of their eyes when they get home) regardless of whether it's in a show or in real life and then the movie comes and demonizes the shallowness and lack of love within the industry.
If it can point fingers so easily why do we never find out how did Penny and Bolt get in the TV show in the first place?
For the whole movie to have happened, and its message of the evil in corporations who deem creatures as disposable, to have worked, we should trust Penny all the way through and truth is that it's hard to believe someone who forces her dog into Method acting for who knows what reason would mind him getting lost.
You can't even blame the studio mom this time (Penny's mom is actually a very ineffective, passive character) but hey if the kids don't notice it, maybe the fun action and facile laughs will suffice.