Monday, March 28, 2011


I'm going to start off by saying that this is not a film about a dog. This is a film about a man, and it's honestly probably in my top 15 favorite films.

What do I mean it's not about a dog? No dog talks. No dog has the depth and range of emotions that humans have. Bolt does. Bolt is a man stuck in a dog's body, and the film is a story of a man's devotion to his woman.

So. The Film.

Bolt, by Disney animation, is overall a remarkable and well-done film. The animation is good- I wouldn't call it great. Not a rivalry to Pixar, and certainly a far cry from that in The Owls of Ga'Hoole. The story is one of the strong points- with a twist at the outset of the film and plenty of tension points thrown in for good measure, as well as some of the most hilarious and clean humor I've seen. There are some moments of distinctive cheese, but overall it is both hilarious and touching. I was choked up more than once.

The score is excellent. John Powell ranges from mickey-mousing (musical mimicry of the on-screen action) and comic parody/location scoring, to action packed, driving music similar to his work on the Bourne films, to heartbreaking and lonely piano themes, to a simply gorgeous, heroic, triumphant and adventurous orchestral motif that emerges a few times- all touched by a kind of homey feel that keeps the whole thing in perspective as really a story, not of some invincible super-hero, but of simply a good man.

It's Mr. Powell's fault that I got choked up so often.

The Worldview

Surprisingly good. There is 1 clear crude joke, and a few other possibilities.

The girl, Penny, is


an actress, who apparently has no father and who disrespects her agent- a jerk. Which makes it all the easier for us to think that she was right to disrespect him. Not so.

We see plenty of working women, one of which is especially manly and feministic. Disgusting.

We also have very short-term vision in the family. The family consists of a single mother, a daughter, and their pets. A widow and an orphan, who act satisfied in their lives because of a few animals that they own. Sad, and bad modeling.

Fortunately, Penny, her mother, her agent, and most of the humans in the film play a small part in Bolt. The film mainly centers around the journeys of three animals.

The dog- Bolt. From him we learn a number of things. We learn that one doesn't need to have superpowers- one just needs to do the right thing. We learn that love and devotion and loyalty are good things. And while Bolt sadly has no concept of The God that claims his ultimate allegiance (remember, this is really a man in a dog's body), he still has a firm grasp of his duty to protect his family- his woman.

The cat- Mittens. Careful with this feline, as from her especially we receive a few insidious slide-ins about bad humans. Now, truly, "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast," but I shudder at anything that even sniffs (har har) of environmentalism. "The cat has feelings too... in fact, cats are people too, you know." No, they aren't. Beware the "people are evil" messages in these talking animal films...

That said, good owners are shown as a good thing, and so they should be! Mittens also goes on a character journey from a tyrannical Guido to a submissive and respectful helper to our hero.

The hamster- Rhino. I love this guy. From Rhino we learn some great things about manliness. He's also hilarious. I love the vigorous spirit about him, the desire to do great things, the "It's a good day to die!"-ness that lets him do what needs done regardless of consequences to himself- and, indeed, realizing that said consequences, however violent, are glorious, for he did what was right whatever the cost.

Of course, he certainly shouldn't spend so much time watching TV, or worshiping movie stars- he leaves much depth to be desired. Nevertheless, he is a source of clean humor and some great inspiration towards manly behavior.

There was a montage in the middle and sketchy, pop-songed credits. Again.

The moral? You don't have to be a superhero. You just need to do what's right.

I really like this film. Highly recommended on a number of levels. 4/5


Rob said...

Great Review. Yup, the Powell tells you how to feel! Goodness... great musicians...

Rhino is the man! Ok... the gerbal. I think his gravitas wasn't realized until it was tried by the fires of a real life situation.

My fave, just behind Rhino, was Penny's manager. They had all the stereotypes down so perfectly... just hillarious!

Gabriel Hudelson said...

Yes, the stereotypes were excellently represented. And good point- it did really manifest then.

I love you, Dad. Thanks for the comment.

Rebekah said...

You know, Rhino has been growing on me the last few times I watched that film. He still drives me a little crazy at times but there truly are some things to like about him - even if he enjoys calling into the air conditioning vents about how awesome he is! :p

Good review! I agree the score is brilliant. The song in the credits drives me crazy - it's so ridiculous when one considers that it's supposed to be a dog and a girl singing to each other - even if Bolt IS a man stuck in a dog's body! :D I like the pigeon's who want to add aliens to the television program. :D

To the KING be all the glory!

Aubrey Hansen said...

I love this film, simply put. I wasn't expecting much - the blurb on the slipcase reeks with cheese. But it doesn't even scratch the surface of the film itself!

It has a moving, wholesome story with an amazing score (John Powell is currently my favorite mainstream movie score composer), and it's one of the cleanest films I've seen in a long time. Very refreshing and endearing.

Wonderful review. I hadn't thought about some of the extra implications you mentioned... great insights.