My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is a good movie. Nothing really spectacular or unique, but for what it is, it is good. It is not one that I would go out of my way to watch it by free choice, as I was a bit bored by the generic-ness of it. It is good, but I did not care much for it.
The film was initially called American Dog, with the dog being a TV Star, and finding himself in Nevada with a one eyed cat, and a huge rabbit, and they had to make it back, all while he is on TV. Things changed in 2006, with John Lasseter becoming a part of WDAS now, and him and Chris sanders had a few issues when it came to creative decisions, so Sanders left the studio (to only join Dreamworks to work on How To Train Your Dragon). The title got changed to Bolt, and massive changes were made to the film, with them completing it in 18 months. This is the first film in the canon to have most of its production completed under the Walt Disney Animation Studios title, and with John Lasseter’s input.
The story starts with a girl called Penny (Chloe Mortez and Miley Cyrus) going to the pet store to adopt a puppy named Bolt (John Travolta). We then skip 5 years, and we see Penny speaking to her “father” on the phone, and he tells her to not go home, because people are after them, and that she has the dog Bolt (who gains some superpowers and a bunch of stuff). They go to save Penny’s “father”, and Penny ended up getting kidnapped by the evil Doctor Calico (Malcolm McDowell)’s sidekicks.
The director flips out because in the film, there is a mic that is seen, and that Bolt could have seen that. Mindy (Kari Whalgrin) the director (James Lipton) does not see why the dog seeing a mike is the big deal, and the director tells her that the dog thinks the world is real, and that they do not re-shoot and keep him at the studio, so the illusion would come off as real when they film, which is why he does not know it is all an act, and it is why they never re-shoot.
When Penny leaves the trailer, a cat and a dog go to Bolt, and mess with him, and Bolt tells Calico’s “animals” that he is coming for him, and they laugh at Bolt. It is another day and another shoot, and long story short, Calico ends up kidnapping Penny, and they stop filming, as the director tells Mindy that cliffhangers will definitely boost ratings. This has Bolt freaking out, and Penny trying to go to him to let him know she is fine, but no one will allow her to do that. Bolt breaks out of the studio, and ends up in a box with styrofoam in it. He ends up in New York City, and is lost.
Bolt tells the pigeons that he is looking for a black cat (Callico’s assistant), and they bring him to Mittens (Sussie Essman), who schemes and bullies pigeons out of their food, and threatens to take out the “paws” on them, so overall, she is pigeon enemy #1. Bolt angrily approaches her, and demands her to tell him where Penny is, and hangs her over a bridge with cars driving to get her to talk. She does not know what the hell he is talking about, and sees his collar say “Hollywood”, knowing that he lives there, and tells him that she will take him to his enemies, who are in Hollywood.
She gives him a map to tell him how to get there, but he forces her to come along with him, which angers her, since it was not the deal. They hop into a moving truck, and are on their way out of New York City, and back to Hollywood. Speaking of Hollywood, Penny’s agent (Greg Germann) tells her that she got a gig for The Tonight Show, and she is still saddened and could care less because Bolt is missing.
Because they are hungry, she takes him to a barbeque, and tells him to beg and make the “dog face” to get them to give him food, and he does not know what that is. She teaches him how to beg and to make the dog face, and he proceeds as he scams the entire RV trailer park area, and gets a bunch of food, while they ignore Mittens, because she is “ugly”. Rhino (Mark Walton) is a hamster stuck in a hamster ball, and he joins them when he sees Bolt (which is his favorite show and character). Rhino knows it is a TV show, and actually thinks that Bolt is a real character, with real powers, and so on and so on. So overall, Rhino thinks it is a Reality TV show.
Mittens soon realizes that Bolt is the dog from the TV show, and causes her to panic, as Bolt forces them to go on a crazy plan, and ends up on a train, to only fly off. As all of this is happening, Penny is looking for Bolt, and putting lost signs up, but the production for the show stalled, and they tell her that she needs to move on from Bolt, and that they have to use this new dog (which they tried to pull off as Bolt, but Penny knew better to believe it, and knows her dog).
Bolt manages to escape the animal control, thanks to Rhino., and realizes that he is nothing but a normal dog and that his life is a lie. He is cheered up by Rhino, and they both decide to save Mittens, which she is really grateful and touched by. Everyone starts to get along, and she gives Bolt a pep talk about being a dog is a great thing. There is a montage song, titled Barking at the Moon, and it is there to show the three animals bonding, as Bolt is taught to do the typical dog stuff, and the moments between these three are really genuine and really touching, as they have fun. But the good times have to end sometime, as they are stuck in Las Vegas, and Mittens makes a home out of 2 boxes for them to stay at, and he tells her that he can’t stay in Las Vegas, and is going back to Penny.
Rhino soon realizes that Bolt left, and tells Mittens that they go with a friend and to never leave a friend behind, whether he asks to or not. Bolt is on his way to Hollywood, and makes it to the studio to see Penny embrace a new dog that looks exactly like him, which makes him walk off sadly, for her to only be sad when she lets go of replacement Bolt. Mittens and Rhino make it to Hollywood, and they reunite with Bolt.
When they have to shoot a new scene, the new Bolt is scared of his surroundings, with the shockers, and the fire, and panicks, accidentally causing the studio to go on fire. What in the hell did the producers expect? This is trauma for animals, and it is not like the animals know it is all fake, so it makes sense why this new dog would act like this from their unethical method of acting. Penny is stuck in the studio because she was tied on the rope, and Bolt rushes to the studio to save Penny, but they both suffer from smoke inhalation, with the hospital coming to rescue them both. The damn agent tries to convince Penny to stay with her job, only for her mother (Grey DeLise) to throw him out, and to quit for Penny and Bolt.
For the show, they completely recast the girl (and the excuse for the script of her looking different is her face needing to be rearranged, which ACTUALLY happens in shows, so it was hilarious), and we learn that Penny and her mother adopted Mittens and Rhino, and the 5 of them are living happily in a spacious area, and Penny goes to play with Bolt in the backyard.
About the characters………….., I honestly do not have a lot to say about the characters, and that is for a few reasons. One is that they are not the most memorable characters, and another is that they are not the strongest when it comes to characterization. They are likable, and they fit their roles really well, so that is a very good thing.
The animation is a HUGE improvement from Meet the Robinsons and Chicken Little. There is a lot of detail in the textures, more realistic designs, appealing but not gimmicky backgrounds, and a decent scale. The special effects and the colors they use for this film is truly brilliant. You can tell with this film that WDAS mastered CGI animaiton.
The music………………….I do not remember much about the music. I have to say that the score is pretty basic, and the one song in the film is basic, so overall…….I think the music is basic.
Reception at Release
When it was released on November 21, 2008, it opened at #3 in the box office, behind Twilight and Quantam of Solace, making $26,223,128, and went up to #2 the following week. Eventually, it went on to make $114,053,579 domestically (closing on February 22, 2009), and $195,926,415 internationally, with a total of $309,979,994.
It did well critically as well, getting a lot of positive reviews. People said that it is the first film since Lilo & Stitch to actually feel like Disney, and that it had a lot of charm, and is a true family film, being enjoyable to kids and adults.
It was nominated for a BUNCH of awards(nominated by both the Annies and Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature), but lost most to WALL-E, and even lost a Kid’s Choice Award to Madagascar:Escape 2 Africa
what were they thinking?.
Today, some people (but not a whole lot) say that this film started to bring the Disney magic back to the studio, and many claim that it is the end of the Post Renaissance era, but that does not mean too much, as Disney rarely acknowledges the film, and this film overall is not talked about much, nor does it have a big fanbase.
= 30/40 = 75%
11 thoughts on “Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: Bolt”
Haven’t seen this one yet, so I can’t say much about it. I will see it eventually, though.
I think it’s quite underrated, so I hope you like it when you get to it!
Saw bits and pieces to this movie a while back. From what I saw, it was pretty good. I seem to remember you putting this on your Underrated list a while back. Do you still think it belongs there? Or does it go a bit up or down on the list?
Do you think this film is the last of the Lost Era or the beginning of the Restoration/Revival Era? To me, this film feels more like the former than the latter. I don’t know, to me, it just feels that way. But what say you?
The next film, The Princess and the Frog, I enjoyed, but its success got bogged down by a few things (outside of its characters, story, etc.) that I’m sure you’ll cover in your review next week.
Oh, I posted on your Pixar post my thoughts on Toy Story 4 and a couple other films scheduled for release by Pixar. Just thought you should know in case you didn’t. I would have posted a bit sooner, but I didn’t know about it until yesterday.
Great review! Keep up the good work!
I think this is the second last film in the Lost Era (I will explain more about it next week). While I can see why this film can be in both categories when it comes to quality, it did not….restore or revive anything for the studio. No one speaks about this film. Sad, but true.
It’s good, but quite forgettable.
Shut up you guys do not no one thing about a good movie Bolt is amazing though i do think that he should have had real superpowers.
Uh……..I never said Bolt was not a good movie. Welcome to the blog.