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Massawyrm takes in two different screenings of BOLT footage!!

Hola all. Massawyrm here. So the nice folks at Disney brought down some footage of their new animated film BOLT to Fantastic Fest – but FF being what it is and the footage screening first thing in the morning, it kind of fell by the wayside. But then last night I saw even more footage which is debuting in front of this weekend’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua (I know, I know…) and since I have this growing inclination that the vast bulk of you won’t be seen anywhere near a theater so much as playing the much dreaded BHC, I thought I might tell you a bit about all the footage I’ve seen. First of all, between the Disney presentation and the spoileriffic preview I saw last night, I’ve probably seen about 10 - 15 minutes of the film. And every frame I see of this film makes me more excited about it. For those of you who haven’t heard about this project, it is the first Disney animated film under the total watch of John Lasseter that doesn’t have the PIXAR name on it, and it shows. This doesn’t feel like a Disney film – not a modern Disney film that is. It feels a hell of a lot more like Pixar. The concept is pretty simple – Bolt is a stunt dog who is the star of a television show about a super powered pup. But since he doesn’t know what television is, he thinks the whole thing is real and that he really is a super dog. As you probably expect, he somehow gets lost in the real world and has to contend with being a stray dog somehow stripped of his superpowers. Insert a street smart stray cat (who looks and sounds a little too close to Rita from the Rita and Runt Animaniacs segments) and a hero worshipping, tv watching hamster in a plastic ball and you have the makings of a cross country adventure. I’ve seen three complete segments thus far. The first was an episode of Bolt’s TV series. Only the first (less impressive) half of this segment appears this weekend in theaters. Presumably very early in the film, this is most likely the segment that will set your geek heart aflutter the most. The whole sequence – which is about protecting his teenage master from spies, Matrix Agent thugs and missile launching helicopters – is such a direct parody of the over the top Michael Bay/Scott Brothers slow motion hyper realism that you will either giggle at the parody, or thrill at the sheer style…while giggling at the parody. There is one incredibly beautiful shot when Bolt headbutts a charging car, sending it toppling over him end over end in slow motion, and then we share the perspective of the young girl as she looks up in slow mo at her own reflection in the hood of the car passing inches above her own head…just as we return to normal speed and it slams into the ground. It’s probably the single most elegant and incredible shot of everything I’ve seen. The action sequence that follows that is both thrilling and funny – with John Woo style motorcycle goons dropping out of helicopters and a case ensuing involving playing hot potato with a bomb. Next (and not in theaters this weekend) was a scene in which Bolt meets his hamster companion Rhino for the first time. This was pretty cute stuff – he’s a TV addicted hamster in a plastic rolling ball who believes that Bolt really is super powered. There was some fun dialog here, with the dynamic of the delusional Bolt, the stray cat who knows he’s delusional and now the Hamster who feeds into Bolt’s delusions by believing the show is a reality series. Finally there’s the new segment which wasn’t shown at FF and you can see this weekend. Unfortunately, it feels VERY late in the film and seems to give away a lot of what happens (not that you couldn’t probably guess a mile out of you wanted to.) Here Bolt has to save one of his friends from the pound – which means a stealthy breaking and entering mission foiling security guards and systems without the use of the superpowers he has so long relied upon. The result is a lot of fun, with some very Pixar like jokes between the guards and a series of happy accidents that allow Bolt to appear to have the powers he does on the show. This was the sequence that just shrieked of Lasseter and you could clearly see his fingerprints all over it. Look, I’m no fan of Disney animation. Frankly, as of late if it didn’t have Pixar written on it, I had little interest. Most of what Disney has churned out on their own is barely worth a mention, if not admonishment. But this is different. The feels like it did back in ’89 when Disney movies stopped sucking and started being magical again (for a while.) When the Disney logo meant a rush of childhood glee as opposed to the corporate stamp we now mostly know it as. Here’s hoping the remaining 80 or so minutes can live up to what they’ve shown us thus far. Here's to hoping this is the beginning of a new golden age of classy, classic Disney animation. Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Massawyrm
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