Bolt Byron Howard and Chris Williams

Bolt Byron Howard and Chris Williams
If you’re thinking Bolt is an unusually quick follow-up to Wall-E for the Pixar camp you’re mistaken, but it’s understandable. Thanks to Pixar co-founder/CCO John Lasseter, the latest animated effort from Disney (yes, remember them?) shares a lot of that Pixar magic, which makes sense considering Lasseter is now the CCO for Disney.

With that said, it’s pretty easy to declare Bolt Disney’s finest animated film since 2002’s Lilo & Stitch. Shot using fancy non-photorealistic rendering and in some theatres featured in 3-D, Bolt is the tale of, well, Bolt (John Travolta), a five-year-old white shepherd who plays a dog with super powers on his titular action/adventure television show.

Raised on set by his "person” and co-star Penny (Miley Cyrus), to remain true to his super hero character, the producers keep him sheltered from the outside world in his trailer so he never realizes the truth: that he isn’t really super. This means Bolt believes an evil, cat-employing mastermind named Dr. Calico (Malcolm McDowell) is trying to kidnap Penny and take over the world. So when he manages to break out of his trailer, Bolt stumbles into a world where he is powerless (the work of his kryptonite: Styrofoam) and must rely on the help of his nemesis, a cat named Mittens (Susie Essman), and a hyperactive hamster known as Rhino (Mark Walton), to find his way back to Penny.

Beginning with a totally awesome action sequence from the TV series, Bolt quickly pulls the wool from its lead character’s eyes, exposing his Truman Show-like naïveté for a journey of self-discovery that is poignant, exhilarating and hilarious to watch unfold. Of course, in the end there’s that undeniable stroke of Disney where, in a climactic moment that had me wishing my dog was right next to me, Bolt shows that his "person” is what matters most.

It may sound schmaltzy but Bolt shows that Disney is capable of keeping its old fashioned values while moving forward in the 21st century. And if you’re considering the 3-D option know this: Bolt is a winner any way you see it, with glasses or without. (Buena Vista)