To echo the biggest fan in the film, Bolt is fully Awesome! Or at least the 3D version of this film, especially the first 10 minutes where we see the superdog in action, showcasing super powers such as his eyes shooting laser beams, speedy acceleration, super strength, and his signature super bark. These are the avenues where 3D gets put to good use, but don't expect every aspect of the film to come flying toward you from the screen.
Disney continues its fascination with the canines this year, having seen the likes of Beverly Hills Chihuahua, its collaboration with India in Roadside Romeo, and now, venturing into the 3D arena with Bolt the superdog. Man's best friend probably never had so much cinematic exposure in the same year, and 2008 ends off with an American Shepherd being the star of the show.
Like The Truman Show, Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is brought up as the unwitting star of a Hollywood television series, and is totally clueless to the world outside of its sound studio. Thinking that everything's for real, he becomes the perennial fish out of water, having been accidentally shipped from Hollywood to the Big Apple, and thinking that his person Penny (Miley Cyrus) is in mortal danger. Hence comes the road trip back to where he belongs, together with some serious questions asked in dealing with culture shock as he discovers his mortality and his being nothing but a normal mutt.
Joining him in the adventures are a cynical cat Mittens (Susie Essman) who shovels the cruelties of the real world down Bolt's throat to awaken his idea, as well as a very zealous fanatical fan in hamster Rhino (Mark Walton). There's nothing groundbreaking here in its character development because it's tried and tested formula, as you'd come to expect everyone ironing out their initial differences to come through stronger as a combined unit than individuals out to fulfil their objectives - Bolt wants to return to his owner, Mittens just wants to rediscover love lost, and Rhino, well, is simply enjoying every minute spent in hanging around his idol.
There are plenty of laughs coming from the initial half of the movie before Bolt's attempt to unlearn what he has learnt. The downside of course is that most of the funniest parts of the movie, already made it to the trailer. That aside, there's a very powerful message contained within for the young in reminding them not to abandon their pets, which is almost THE message that gets put into an animal-friendly/centric movie. Love and Friendship are the usual themes used through which to tug at your heartstrings, with enough moments to go "aww" and fight that tear or two in staining the 3D glasses which have to be returned. And of course with any dog movie, Loyalty is never far behind.
For a few dollars more, you can choose to watch the 3D version of it, and trust me, it's worth every minute and every cent extra, even if there aren't many moments where you'll duck at objects flying towards you. It's quite obvious that unlike Journey to the Center of the Earth that the set action pieces here aren't designed explicitly for this format, but it still offers extremely good digital quality in the rendering of images that pop and provide you that extra dimension, so realistic that there will be moments where you'll be tempted to reach out and pseudo-pet the dog for a job well done. Visually, Bolt 3D is stunningly beautiful with wonderfully designed characters, and photo-realism aside, it's Disney at its best in designing characters with visual and character appeal, that can translate easily to merchandising dollars.
Bolt 3D lives up to its novelty, and will instantly become a fan favourite amongst the kids and adults alike. I can picture busy cash registers for Christmas already.