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Posts Tagged ‘disney’

Bolt: Some Sizzle, Yet No Spark

Posted by goldwriting on December 1, 2008

bolt Do you know how close that place is to the ocean? Do you realize how much water that is?!

Rating: 6 out of 10

We sometimes cast a wistful gaze back into history and remember all the purely magical moments of our childhoods: learning to ride a bike, dumping out the first bag of Halloween candy after a monster haul, or playing with the first new family pet. All of these things hold a special place in our hearts and right alongside those for most of us is the memory of watching our first Disney film. Whether it was Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Steamboat Wille or Aladdin (had to mention it since it is still my reigning favorite from ‘The House of Mouse’), those magical cartoons had a profound effect on several generations and for that, Disney deserves a certain amount of credit. Yet, today things are slightly different. In the world of animated cinema Disney is scratching for third place on the totem pole, underneath the powerhouse studios of Pixar and Dreamworks Animation. It’s true, it can be argued Disney is on top of the pole since they own Pixar, but Pixar operates very much as a separate company and they gained their early success and prestige before Disney made the purchase. Disney is merely the distribution chain for the wonderment emanating from the minds and dreams of the Pixar creative staff. So the question becomes, does Disney still have the chops to compete in the animation circuit?

Yes, they do, as long as they are satisfied with coming in third.

Disney’s latest contribution is Bolt, the story of a dog who doesn’t know he’s an actor on a television show and ends up lost in the real world trying to find his owner, who was fake-kidnapped on the show. Along the way Bolt captures an alley cat in an effort to force her to lead him to the Green-eyed Man (his TV arch-nemesis) and also picks up a hamster that happens to be a fanatical fan named Rhino. Their cross country journey is full of adventures and mishaps, all in an effort to lead Bolt home and back to his owner. The journey is also an internal one for Bolt as he struggles with the realization that he is a normal, non-superhero type dog.

Bolt is a charming movie and should be enjoyable to most young kids out there, but the modern day marker for true success in this genre is how many adults can you attract without their children in tow? For that crowd, Bolt doesn’t offer a whole lot. The trailer was incredibly well-designed and caught a good deal of the highlights in the film, mainly showcasing the role of Rhino the hamster, who stole most of his scenes and felt light in the overall scope of the film. Boosting up his role might not have fit in the structure of the story, but it certainly would have brought up the laughs. Another point in which I think the movie fared really well was the depiction of the pigeons, both in New York and in Los Angeles. The movements and seemingly spastic thought processes in those birds were amusing no matter what they were talking about. Those animators really captured a brilliant idea of what it could be like to listen to their thoughts. The Los Angeles based pigeons…well, those were hilarious for a whole different reason, which I won’t go into for the sake of not ruining the scene. (The only pitfall here is it might only be funny to people who live out here and work in the entertainment industry. Even so, I’m lucky because I do live here and I did think they were the high point of the flick.) As for the main characters, Bolt made sense throughout the film and always stayed on a strong motivated course, but I just wasn’t endeared to him. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but something lacked in making Bolt stand out amongst the cadre of side characters and he ended up being only a lynch pin instead of driving force for the story. The alley cat, Mittens, played well off Bolt and acted more like the Chorus in Greek and Roman theatre, providing the reactions of the common audience member, since Bolt’s own worldview was so skewed. Mittens continually reminded us that what was happening was more-or-less insane, but in the end also showed us what was most important. Surprising to me, Mittens felt more like the heart or emotional center of the film over Bolt.

With animated features another big hurdle is to find a cast of voices that not only fits the characters, but also doesn’t overshadow the movie itself. John Travolta provided the voice of Bolt and admittedly when the movie began I felt his voice was too old for the character and too aware of himself, but as it went on I felt Travolta settled into it more and became more attuned with the character. On the other hand, Miley Cyrus was not a terribly good choice as the voice of Penny, Bolt’s real life and on-screen owner. She was certainly picked for star power and to further connect the movie to the teen-and-under audience, but Miley’s voice is raspy, bordering on smoky at times and while that might work for her pop star image, it didn’t play coming from the mouth of a young, innocent looking girl.

One last interesting tidbit is Bolt was actually executive produced by John Lasseter, one of Pixar’s creators who now works for both companies. He was brought onto Disney Animation to help bring them back into the forefront of the animation world, but I can’t say I really felt that Pixar spark inside this movie. I have no doubt Disney will continue to move forward and fight their way onwards and upwards, but so far it has been a slow crawl for them.

Recommendation: If you have young children, jump on in, but if you’re heading out on your own, you better be a die-hard fan of children’s movies. Also, this is being offered in 3-D at some theaters, but feel free to skip that option. I saw the 3-D version and there wasn’t anything really worth the hassle of wearing those glasses and possibly fighting off the resulting headache.
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Daily Musings 2/28

Posted by goldwriting on February 28, 2008

1 – My dreams are coming true. When I walked out of Step Up 2 The Streets I fell to my knees in the theater lobby and said, “Please, Lord, let there be more. Let this franchise live on!” That prayer went up on the wings of angels and what came back was more than I could have hoped for:

“Disney will proceed with a third installment of its hit dance franchise “Step Up,” tentatively titled “Step Up 3-D.”

Pic will become the latest 3-D live-action film from the Mouse House, with “Step Up 2 the Streets” director Jon Chu in talks to reprise.” [click to Variety for the whole article]

That’s right! 3-D flip outs and headspins happening right in front of you. If they get someone nearly as hot as the last lead girl and put her under a rain machine…check please!

2 – I actually do remember when they tried to launch Slamball as a new sport and I’m gunning for them to make it back on the air. The Spike Network is just ripe for this kinda stuff. You don’t have to watch the entire ad campaign for it, but just wait until you see some of the mid-court body checks and super-spin slam dunks. Tell me this wouldn’t be fun to watch.

[via With Leather]

3 – Here’s more Touhou fun for the masses. This time, Mentos!

4 – There is a much longer clip that has been riding the Internet wave for over a year now entitled “The Evolution of Dance”, but there is one major and important difference with this newer, shorter version…and his name is Optimus Prime. [via College Humor]

5 – The world, and the people in it, may knock you down, but the only person keeping you down is you.

6 – Gerard Butler, the insane leader of the Spartans in 300, is going to be lending his voice to the comic within the comic in the upcoming Watchmen film. Unfortunately this is strictly an exclusive for the DVD release, but the whole comic will be done in anime style and Butler will lend his voice to that of the doomed captain. This sounds extremely cool, but I swear if he yells anything remotely close to “We are PIRATES!” or “We are ANIMATED!” I am going to find Zack Snyder, the director, and wrap him completely in bubble wrap and push him down a long, sloping street, so he’ll make lots of noise on his way down and people will come out of their house and say, “What the hell is that noise? Oh, it’s Zack Snyder, that duchebag who ruined the Watchmen DVD.” [via ComingSoon]

7 – Brian Eno is said to be producing the upcoming Coldplay album. Hmmm… famous U2 producer working with Coldplay. There’s a word for this… Insta-grammy! [via Perez]

8 – Predicted pricing for gas could reach $4 per gallon and when our nation’s commander and leader was asked about what he plans to do about this, his response was “I hadn’t heard that.” I’m positive there is not enough space in this computer for me to list out the things George Bush hasn’t heard, starting somewhere around the creation of the universe and ending near yesterday’s Hot Topic on The View. Can the aliens that dropped him off on this planet please come retrieve him? [via CNN]

9 – Maxim magazine has launched out it’s newest response in the Review-gate scandal. Now it is claiming that the reviews were not reviews at all, they were “previews”. Oh, I see, it all makes sense now. Well here is my preview for all future Maxim articles, “They will suck and be inaccurate and borderline slander.” But hey, I haven’t read their entire future line of issues, so I could be wrong. [via Starpulse]

10 – UPDATE: It looks like Jacko might be able to keep Neverland Ranch after all. There seem to be some bankers out there still crazy enough to lend him money and the proposed auction is being postponed while his financial estate is worked out. I said it before, I’ll say it again, the place is haunted and you’d have to pay me to live there.

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