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Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

BOLT marks a number of firsts for Disney. It’s the first of their animated films to be conceived entirely in 3D and it’s also the first film to be overseen by Toy Story magician John Lasseter in his capacity as chief creative officer.

Needless to say, the Pixar magic rubs off as this is an engaging, energetic adventure that makes the most of its eye-catching – but not gimmicky – 3D.

Canine hero Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is the star of a TV show in which he has super-powers, including super speed and a mighty bark. However, he doesn’t know that it’s all pretend.

So, when he inadvertently finds himself shipped across the country from LA to New York, and suspects that his owner (voiced by Miley Cyrus) is in jeopardy, Bolt is in for a shock when he finds that getting home to perform a rescue are harder that he thought. It’s left to his loyal new friends, con artist cat Mittens (Susie Essman) and hyper hamster Rhino (Mark Walton), to help him along the way.

Co-directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams, Bolt isn’t without faults but it’s the closest Disney has come to emulating the animated achievements of its studio-mates Pixar for some time.

The storyline and humour is capable of appealing to all age groups (not just kids), while the in-joke references are smart and the characters memorable in some way.

There’s also a keen eye for detail that ensures the 3D effects are never employed for the sake of it, but rather to enhance the overall experience and immerse the viewer in it.

Bolt, as voiced by John Travolta, is an enjoyable character to be around, capable of being super-heroic one moment and ultra-cute and/or vulnerable the next, while supporting players such as Rhino (excellent, despite being trapped in a glass ball) and some dim-witted New York pigeons all enhance the canine journey.

So, while Disney itself may still have a long way to go before it can truly recapture the charm and durability of its golden era, with Lasseter pulling the strings and allowing the artists to take creative control back from the accountants, the studio appears to be well on its way.

Bolt is a strong achievement that bodes well for the incoming 3D revolution, as well as for Disney’s future prospects. It’s a film that easily entertains the whole family… and what’s more, it comes complete with a wildly entertaining Pixar short from Lasseter himself, the Cars-toon Tokyo Mahter.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 103mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: June 15, 2009