FSR’s Weekly Report Card for 11.21.08

FSR's Weekly Report Card


Studio: Disney

Rated: PG for some mild action and peril.

Starring the Voices of: John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Malcolm McDowell and James Lipton

Directed by: Byron Howard & Chris Williams

What it’s about: Bolt is a rescued pup who has become the star of his own action television series. He’s also a bit delusional in that he believes that he really has super powers. When Bolt thinks Penny, his human, has been kidnapped, he runs away to find her, ending up in New York. He then must make his way back to Hollywood, and soon he discovers that he really doesn’t have super powers. With the help of a stray cat and a hyperactive hamster, Bolt tries to make it home to be reunited with Penny.

What I liked: Back when Beverly Hills Chihuahua came out, I boldly made the statement that you couldn’t go wrong with Disney dogs. Even movies like Underdog, which was not Disney’s proudest moment on the canine front, have a certain level of charm. Bolt is far more charming than Underdog, and it’s a great adventure for the whole family.

The opening sequence of the film features the television show-within-the-movie, which shows Bolt in all of his super-power glory. This is easily the greatest part of the film, on the level with the action sequences of The Incredibles. While the rest of the film settled down to a less frenetic level, I did keep wishing I could watch an entire Bolt film as the television show.

Still, there’s a ton of heart to this film. The lead voice cast is good, but no one really stands out the way someone like Jack Black did in Kung Fu Panda. In fact, it’s the relative unknown Mark Walton as Rhino the Hamster who really steals the show.

Unfortunately, this was not screened in 3D when I saw it, but I imagine that with the top-of-the-line 3D technology they have now, this is probably the best way to see the film.

What I didn’t: The movie does slow down a bit in the middle, while Bolt is making his way across the heartland (although a chunk of the movie does take place in Ohio, which made me grin as a born-and-bred Ohio boy). With the set-up that we were given in the opening sequence, it was hard to keep the energy that high through the rest of the film.

The only other complaint I have is that I’ve seen a lot of the story elements before. In fact, the long trek back home is very similar to Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which is still playing in the multiplexes. Also, Bolt’s delusion that he’s a super dog is very reminiscent of Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. In fact, there’s a conversation Bolt and Rhino have in the middle of the film that’s almost a carbon copy of Buzz and Woody’s confrontation under the car at the gas station.

Who is gonna like this movie: Families, kids, animation fans and anyone who’s looking for a light, fluffy, entertaining film.

Grade: B+


Studio: Summit Entertainment

Rated: PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality.

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli and Cam Gigandet

Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke

What it’s about: Bella (Kristen Stewart) has just moved from Phoenix to the rainy, overcast town of Forks in the Pacific Northwest to live with her dad. On her first day of school, she meets the Cullen family, who are dreadfully pale and sensually creepy kids that keep to themselves. Soon, Bella strikes up a relationship with Edward (Robert Pattinson), one of the Cullens, and she discovers that he and his family are actually vampires living among the humans. When a rogue vampire element threatens her life, Robert and his family come to her rescue.

What I liked: I really was hoping that I’d like this movie. I enjoy a good vampire flick as much as the next horror fan (although I’m getting woefully tired of the whiny, heroine chic breed that have been dominating pop culture ever since Anne Rice reinvented the monsters years ago). And there were some elements I enjoyed.

I thought the cinematography was interesting, capturing the beauty of the rainy Pacific northwest. Additionally, for the creepier element, the young vampire hotties (for both the guys and the ladies) are enjoyable to look at. And when the film did get around to showing some vampire action (especially in the climax), things were fun.

What I didn’t: Bottom line, there was just way too much angst in this film for me. Kristen Stewart, who is a fine young actor, is left to cringe and shake her head in almost every scene. Robert Pattinson, who was much more compelling as Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter flicks, channels Hayden Christensen with his silent brooding and icy glares.

The production value of this movie was borderline embarrassing at times. It looked like something you’d see on television (probably on the WB) rather than in a movie theater. The wire work was amateurish, and the sound editing was overdone and silly. And some of the dialogue is so achingly terrible that I wondered if the filmmakers employed a high school kid to pen the screenplay.

While I haven’t seen thirteen, I have seen Catherine Hardwicke’s other films (Lords of Dogtown and The Nativity Story), and I have loathed both of them. I don’t loath Twilight, but I found it a colossal waste of time. Still, if you have the hypersensitive and brittle emotional make-up of a teenage girl, you will probably devour this film.

Who is gonna like this movie: Teenage girls and Twilight MILFs.

Grade: C-

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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