steamboatmouse: (Schoolhouse Rock)
IT'S no secret that I'm pretty skeptical when it comes to 3D films, but that's not to say that I won't give it a chance. There are lots that I admire, though it seems many animators are only working in 3D for the sake of working in 3D. Thus, story is pushed down as a second or third priority. Bolt, however, looked pretty darn cool from the trailer, and with the addition of good reviews from my friends, I went to see it.

Bolt could have been an absolutely stunning and moving film, but it simply just wasn't. Now don't get me wrong - it did look just as cool as the trailer showed, and I've always been a sucker for high-speed action, but that's not what makes a film incredible. Explosions are cool, but making your audience feel for your protagonist is infinitely more important. Sadly, that's what was lacking.

Bolt's life is not what he believes it is, and naturally he discovers all the lies he's grown up with on his journey from New York to California. Think now about Buzz Lightyear, a comparison that many people are bringing up for this point. Buzz also went through the same thing, and was visibly - quite visibly - crushed when he learned that he really was only a toy. Despite this, he stills tries to fly, determined to prove to himself that he's not a toy, only to immediately fall. He speaks very little after that incident for quite some time, obviously too depressed from the truth. Buzz's attempt to fly and then his reaction to when he cannot gets the viewers to feel sorry for him. He's done nothing wrong and is a good person; you almost want him to be able to really fly. You understand how distraught he feels and hope things will get better for him.

Bolt, however, spent no more than a minute discovering the truth and then getting over it. The entire film is based around his life, yet the scene where he learns the truth is abrupt and flat. I expected a little more of a struggle, or even hunched shoulders, but Bolt accepted it and then went off on his way.

Still, there is some justification for this. That scene was in the middle of when Mittens needed rescuing from the animal shelter, and friends should always be a priority. Bolt eventually does become crushed when he thinks his owner, Penny, has replaced him for another dog. As the film progresses, it becomes less about his nonexistent powers and more about his relationship with Penny, and perhaps he could accept the fact that he has no powers so easily because the only thing he really needs is to be with Penny. Thus, he only needs to be visibly sad when he thinks he has been abandoned.

It makes sense looking at it like that, but there are still many components that you need to make the audience actually feel sorry for Bolt. Perhaps the scene where he realizes that he doesn't have powers doesn't need to be as important, but brushing over it didn't make me really feel for Bolt as much as I wanted. True, he doesn't need real powers to be with Penny, but he grew up believing that his powers were protecting her from danger. Now that he realizes that he has no powers, he has no way to protect her. It's a critical point that was incredibly glossed over, and as Michael Phillips put it, "I felt abandoned just watching it."

It's a bit surprising that the Disney studios would faze over getting people to engage with the character, something they're usually stars at. Of course, there are points where you do feel sorry for him, but it didn't feel deep enough. Character development should be parallel with a strong story and stunning animation, though that's just a preference of mine.

Simply put, it was an okay film. Though I will say the regional pigeons speaking New Yorker and Californian made my week.


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Steamboat Mouse Animation


A journal on a young animation student's thoughts on animated films, shorts, and the industry above it.

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