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Doggie Dilemma

By Elvis D'Silva
June 26, 2009 16:27 IST
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He is an American White Shepherd named Bolt (John Travolta), he is a television star and he doesn't know that the adventurous life he lives is a make-believe one. Because the creators of the show believed that it would be better for the dog to think that he actually was a strong, smart and super-powered canine entrusted with the responsibility of protecting his human companion Penny (Miley Cyrus).

And with that lofty idea, which brings to mind so many different implications about truth, responsibility and the treatment of animals in the performing arts, this animated movie gets under way.

When a network executive informs the show's director that the audiences are getting bored of the pattern the show takes, it is decided that one particular episode will end in a cliffhanger, so that audiences don't know if Bolt will actually be able to save Penny or not. Trouble is, nobody bothered to tell the dog, so he thinks she has been kidnapped for real, in the same way that he believes the myth of his invulnerability.

A scene from BoltWhen Bolt escapes the set and ventures into the real world to rescue Penny he finds himself across the country through an accident of circumstance. Now the canine must make the cross-country journey with a stray cat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and a bubble-dwelling hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton) to find Penny and save her from the clutches of the Evil Green-Eyed Man (Malcolm McDowell), also known as Dr. Calico on the television show. Needless to say, misadventures and hi-jinks ensue.

The canine lead in this movie is possibly one of the most adorable balls of imaginary fur ever committed to celluloid. In his earnestness as well as his fierce loyalty to Penny this character exhibits a range of expressiveness human actors simply couldn't hope to replicate. Though his travel companions provide some of the laughs in the film there are few moments when the adorable, white-furred leading dog isn't front and centre in the action. And he exonerates himself admirably. Mr Travolta does a fine job of finding the characters core with his voice and even Cyrus, the gummy teen pin-up, doesn't come off too badly when it's only her voice we're required to respond to.

The animation is pretty good (for a non-Pixar movie) and the tale delivers enough of a message about faith and identity for it to be more than merely a kids' cartoon. Word to the wise though, on the big screen this movie is probably better enjoyed without the encumbrance of 3D glasses. There is very little about the 3D viewing experience that renders it an enjoyable one.

Too much of the story's subtleties are lost while one tries to figure out exactly what part of the image is supposed to be '3D' at any given moment. My advice? Watch it the old fashioned way the first time around, and if you like it, go nuts and splurge on tickets for a 3D viewing the second time around.

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Elvis D'Silva