Legacy Review

Bolt (2008)

Bolt had a rough, uneven production — and it shows. It was the first Disney animated film to have significant production overlap between Disney’s pre- and post-Pixar merger leadership. As a result, Bolt tries on a lot of identities. Too many, in fact, to ultimately come together as a satisfying film. But a lot of portions are really quite good, so it’s far from a waste of time.

The film’s story is driven from the premise: What if a dog thought he was actually a superhero, but really wasn’t? It’s a phenomenally stupid idea for a plot and ends up being a mishmash of a bunch of ideas done better elsewhere:

  • Toy Story 1: protagonist believes he’s a fantastical hero, but is in fact quite mundane, and must reckon with that truth
  • Toy Story 2: side character has trouble coping with being left behind by a kid in the past
  • The Truman Show: protagonist’s life is built around a TV show without him realizing it
  • The Incredibles: ordinary person/creature has superpowers, resulting in a comic blending of the mundane and the extraordinary

It’s, ultimately, a story that requires too much suspension of disbelief relative to the payoff, dragging down the movie. Its best moments (and most Pixar-esque) are after Bolt has realizes he’s not a true super-dog and misses his owner.

The animation is overall very good, with a few notable hiccups. The lighting and settings are amazing, as are the character animation of the animals. The humans, on the other hand, are a nightmare. It’s hard to believe this was only 2 years before Tangled, a vast improvement in human CGI.

The voice acting is fine. Travolta and Cyrus feel lest stunt-cast than I would have feared. Susie Essman is excellent as the cat Mittens, capturing numerous shades to the character.

Lastly, that set piece at the pound is hysterical.

Is It Good?

Nearly Good (4/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.

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