Bolt Byron Howard and Chris Williams

Bolt Byron Howard and Chris Williams
Bolt is the first Disney animated film completed since Pixar head John Lasseter joined Disney and his innovative company became the de facto animation department for the Mouse House. It shows; Bolt is the closest anyone has come to rivalling Pixar's storytelling ease and character depth. So while it's no Wall-E or Ratatouille, it makes strides to establishing an excellent Disney animation brand — family-oriented, populist and less "experimental" than Pixar seems to be — that won't disgust fans of the famed company's legacy. Bolt (voiced not irritatingly by John Travolta) is the canine star of an action TV show; he's also unaware that it's not real. When he accidentally escapes the studio and has to find his way back to his co-star/person Penny (Miley Cyrus), adventure with an ornery cat and rambunctious hamster ensues. It's not far from the Madagascar template with one important, Pixar-ian touch — unlike rival studio DreamWorks, there are no "star" voice roles beyond the top talent. Even Rhino the hamster came from a backline voice actor (Mark Walton), who did temp tracks so well that they gave him the gig. The concept works well, the animation is beautiful and there's no skeezy sense of being overly test-marketed and focus-grouped the way much kids entertainment feels these days. Now on home video, Bolt comes in a plethora of options, from single DVD to three-disc DVD/Blu-Ray/download super-pack. Though extras vary in different versions, most include the expected quality extras: a making-of, a showcase on voice cast (Walton is particularly charming), and a somewhat disappointing Rhino-oriented short film. So, they're not quite Pixar after all. (Disney)