Running Time: 96 Minutes
One Sentence: Is Disney back?
Disney has been getting crushed. First there was Pixar just destroying them in the box office numbers, then the choice to not do anymore 2-D animation for a few years and quite a few lackluster CG movies, like Meet The Robinsons and Chicken Little. Disney refocused, bought Pixar and put John Lassiter at the healm of the animation studio. Bolt is one of the first new projects from that restructuring and one of the big movies that is going to see if Disney is back, without the help of Pixar. John Lassiter was the executive producer, but everyone else that worked on this is a core Disney team. The director and writers are from The Emperors New Groove, and Mulan. So this is mostly a roots Disney project. So is Bolt the first of many new Disney products that might put them back on top. I would say maybe.
Bolt is a great fun movie about a TV star dog that does not know he is a TV star and he doesn't actually have super powers. The opening scene of this movie which is a scene from his TV show is the most epic CG/Action work I have seen since Cars opening scene. It is fast, crisp, action packed, fun and worth the price of admission. From here the movie does the normal things we expect from a family movie. There are no surprises and the movie wraps up with a nice package we all are used to and at no point are you left disappointed. The movie is solid but after that first scene it just lets up a little too much and I didn't feel it was an amazing home run like Pixar seems to deliver year after year.
This movie is a miles ahead of any animation Disney has put out as a feature release in a long time. However they did fall into some of those same traps these big companies tend to do. First they got John Travolta to play Bolt, and this just didn't work for me at all, he sounded too old and I felt didn't fit the character. Some of the other voice work as well was just too overdone or the wrong choice. I don't think people care who does the voice work, they don't want a name they want a good voice. Bolt I think was missing this big time. Also the comedy character was forced to carry the humor for the whole movie. We are now used to an integrated world of humor that comes from any place possible, while Bolt delivered it from the most likely of sources and didn't explore that whole other level that adults seem to enjoy with the Pixar movies, or Dreamworks movies. This is where the movie failed the most. That amazing world that exists outside of the real world that we used animation for. Really Bolt didn't have that and could have almost been a non-animated movie.
However I still think that Bolt was a good choice for your family for Thanksgiving, and is a very fun family film. I think it is a step in the right direction for Disney and hopefully they will get better as they learn what they are doing after a bad decade. I would check it out with the kids when it comes out.