Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bolt 3D / 2D Blu-ray Review

Prepare to enter a fantastic new dimension of family fun as Disney’s sensational animated comedy leaps off the screen and into your living room.  Just wait until Bolt springs into action in awe-inspiring Disney 3D!  Bolt is the star of the biggest show in Hollywood.  The only problem is, he thinks it’s real.  After he’s accidentally shipped to New York City and separated from Penny, his beloved co-star and owner, Bolt must harness all his “super powers” to find a way home.  Experience all the high-flying, death-defying stunts Bolt and his hilarious sidekicks pull of on their incredible journey.  The fur really flies as they come to life right before your eyes! And with four ways to watch – Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy – this 3D Combo Pack unleashes a new level of excitement on Disney Blu-ray 3D.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)

The movie opens with a young girl named Penny (Miley Cyrus) and her dog Bolt (John Travolta) chasing some bad guys while evading other ones.  Bolt  appears to have superpowers that he uses to help Penny in her quest to save her father that’s been kidnapped by the evil Doctor Calico (Malcolm McDowell).  What Bolt doesn’t realize is that his entire existence is just a television show that’s being filmed surreptitiously.  It’s kind of like the Truman Show meets James Bond.  During the filming of an episode, Penny seems to be kidnapped and Bolt (not knowing that’s it’s all fake) escapes to rescue her but accidentally knocks himself out when he hits his head on a window and falls into a box of styrofoam packing material which is mistakenly sent to New York with him in it.
When he awakens he spies a cat named Mittens (Susie Essman) who he believes is an agent of evil who works for Doctor Calico since he has been taught that all cats are not to be trusted.  While Mittens isn’t evil per se, she isn’t very nice to the local pigeons who she’s forced into servitude through threats.  Bolt who still believes that this is just another mission, forces Mittens into leading him to where Penny is being help by Doctor Calico.  Although Mittens has no idea what he’s talking about, she still tells him that a restaurant map will lead them to Penny in Hollywood so he doesn’t beat her up.  Back in Hollywood, Penny is extremely sad about Bolt being missing but reluctantly accepts working with a replacement dog so the production isn’t shut down which would put a lot of people out of work.
As Bolt and Mittens make their way across the country, Bolt starts to realize that none of his superpowers seem to be working anymore but he believes that it’s because of the styrofoam from the box he was shipped in has sapped his powers.  Once Mittens learns that he’s afraid of styrofoam she tries to win her freedom while wielding a piece of the hated styrofoam but Bolt is able to defeat her.  They both accept that they will need to work together since they both are hungry so Mittens teaches Bolt how to beg for food.  They soon run into a hyperactive hamster named Rhino who happens to be an avid watcher of Bolt’s show and who proclaims himself to be his number one fan.
When Bolt and Mittens are captured by Animal Control but Rhino is able to free Bolt before the they reach their destination but not before Bolt finally realizes that Mittens is right about him not having any superpowers, and not before Mittens is saved.  Now convinced that he is worthless, Bolt has to be convinced by Rhino that he can still save Mittens.  When they manage to save Mittens, the group finally becomes friends and Mittens shows Bolt how to act like a normal dog and what activities they like to do.  Bolt is overjoyed at these revelations and enjoys every minute of playing fetch and sticking his head out of moving cars.  Things are going so well that Mittens believes that they will remain where they are and make a good life there.  Bolt disagrees because he still wants to find Penny while Mittens tries to convince him to forget about her.  Since they can’t agree on a course of action, Bolt leaves to continue his trip to Hollywood with Rhino following behind him and Mittens stubbornly remaining behind.
When Bolt finally makes it back to the studio where the show with Penny is filmed, he discovers that he’s been replaced by another look alike dog which crushes his spirit.  Dejected, he begins to leave and completely misses Penny telling her mother how much she misses Bolt.  Fortunately for him, their exchange is seen by Mittens who has returned to help Bolt and she tells him what he missed.  At the same time, during filming within the sound-stage, the replacement dog panics during filming and accidentally starts a fire that quickly engulfs the entire sound-stage.  Bolt realizes that it’s up to him to save Penny and he jumps into action once more.
Bolt doesn’t have the deepest plot or the most original story-line, but it is a lot of fun and the actors bring a lot to their roles especially John Travolta.  The movie is fast paced and has a good balance of action and comedy.  The characters are well defined and play off of each other well.  Of course there is no way that a show like Bolt could ever be filmed as was shown, but if you can overlook that, this movie has a lot going for it with its easygoing charm and humor.

Video (5 out of 5 stars)

3D Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) (2D Video 5 out of 5 stars)

Both of these 1080p (1.78:1) transfers are very impressive which isn’t really a surprise when it comes to Disney releases.  The 3D is very effective, especially during the opening action packed scene during the filming of an episode of the show.  From the electrical currents that dance across the henchmen’s hands every time they try to capture Penny and Bolt, to the many close ups of the animals that reach out from the TV, Bolt offers an excellent 3D presentation that works even better since it was originally conceived for 3D.  Both versions have vibrant colors, suitably dark black levels, and a considerable amount of fine detail.  The 2D version looks flawless as does the 3D version with the exception of the frequent appearance of ghosting which is fairly constant but it never becomes a serious issue but I do feel that I need to mention it.  Overall, both versions look amazing and fans of the movie will be very pleased.

Audio (5 out of 5 stars)

Bolt’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is also astounding from the very beginning of the movie with the street chase played out across all of the channels.  All of the explosions and the roar of the motorcycles, trains, and more fill the room and completely surround the listener.  The directional effects are extremely accurate as they dance across the channels to create a very immersive experience.  Dialogue is also very clear and delivered well from the front channels.  The LFE output is a constant presence and it delivers every explosion in an extremely satisfying way.  This incredible surround mix sets another high water mark for Disney.

Special Features (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

While there seems to be a decent amount of extras here, it’s not as good as it looks since all of these are extremely short.  I wish as much effort was put into the extras as there was the video and audio quality.
  • Super Rhino – A short but funny cartoon where we see what would happen if Rhino had superpowers.
  • Bolt’s Be-Awesome Mission Game – An interactive game for kids that includes three levels to play.
  • In Session with John Travolta and Miley Cyrus – A quick look at the recording session with the two stars recording “I Thought I Lost You.”
  • Music Video - “I Thought I Lost You”  Miley Cyrus and John Travolta sing the song for this music video. video.
  • Creating the World of Bolt – A short look at the stylistic decisions of the directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard and the direction they went with the film that differed quite a bit from the original concept.
  • A New Breed of Directors – Directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard talk about directing their first film and what they tried to accomplish with this movie.
  • Deleted Scenes – There’s seven minutes of storyboard sequences included in an uncompleted form.
  • Act Speak! The Voices of Bolt – A look at the recording sessions with the actors, the directors, and some comments from Executive Producer John Lasseter.
  • Bolt Art Gallery – There’s four different galleries devoted to character designs, visual development, storyboards and the music.
  • DVD – A DVD of the film is included.
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)

This is a very enjoyable movie which is made even better by this excellent Blu-ray set.  The 3D is very good with only minor but frequent ghosting present, and an amazing surround mix.  While the extras could have been better, this is still a great Blu-ray to pick up and one that the whole family will enjoy!
Order your copy today!

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