Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Good is Bolt?

I've heard fine things from Disney staff regarding Bolt.

"The story is better than the last few, I'm happy about it" ... "The animation looks good, and I like the look" ... "The animation is solid" ...

Often the staff is right, and occasionally wrong. I always listen to what the creators are saying, but sometimes they're wrong ... which is totally understandable. When you're down working among the trees, it can be hard to see what the whole forest looks like.

Now Todd Gilchrist of ign.com has seen a sizable chunk of the flick, and apparently likes what he sees:

Bolt looks like it will be a fun adventure and a lively tale of friendship. The "episode" footage will likely register most strongly with readers of IGN thanks to the admitted influence of filmmakers like Michael Bay on its direction: the action itself is terrific, featuring Bolt and Penny as they deftly escape their pursuers, while Williams and Howard amped up the colors and cinematic tricks (slow-motion, "multiple" cameras) to create a show that, quite frankly, we'd actually like to watch. The quieter scene, on the other hand, is no less interesting, just less full of action, and animator Mark Walton's voice work on Rhino give the scene its alternate notes of humor and sincere emotion ...

... what was most interesting about Disney's approach to Bolt was the "painterly" aspect of the visuals and the way in which they have with the film tried to return the animated form to something that looks more hand-drawn than mathematically produced. American artist Edward Hopper was referenced multiple times as the inspiration for the film's cross-country backdrop, and a handful of isolates shots that were shown indicated that even within the computer, the artists working on the film could create images that actually showed brush strokes and imperfect edges – namely, all of the little details that made classic Disney films so distinctive and relatable.

Is Bolt any good? Will it connect with audiences? This is is the Pixar team's first time* at the plate with a Disney Animation release, so it'll be interesting to see.

* Hey, what about Meet the Robinsons? Welll .... it had well over half the work done when Ed Catmull and John Lasseter winged down from Pixar, therefore we won't count it.


Anonymous said...

And I'm sure if this one sinks as well (though hopefully not) Lasseter and Catmull will find a way to devorce themselves from it.

hugh hogwarts said...

It's divorce, devorce...

And if it's a success will you "o-pollygys"?

Personally, I'm rooting for them to succeed, not blaming them for things well into production when they got there. If Bolt succeeds they deserve credit, if it fails they deserve the blame. Little remains of what Chris Sanders put together. If you'd seen his original pitch you'd think that was a good thing. If you'd only seen the cutesy artwork you'd feel he was "unfairly" taken off of a labor of love.

November we get to find out who was right..

Kevin Geiger said...

> Little remains of what Chris Sanders put together.
> If you'd seen his original pitch you'd think that was a good thing.

Opinions vary on that. Nevertheless, here's wishing the "Bolt" crew all the best!

Anonymous said...

>Opinions vary on that<

I dunno. Unless you're biased (aka work with sanders at dreamworks, hehe), everyone pretty much knew American Dog was a pretty troubled story.

But lets please not make this thread about American Dog/Sanders, thats been played to death. Let's talk about Bolt!

Everything Ive seen of Bolt looks awesome, and Ive seen almost all of it. The story arc, personalities of the characters, and the environments steal the show. The animation is solid, but it has its up and downs, mostly because I think they had to animate it in record time. I think it's a step in the right direction for Disney.

Anonymous said...

PS) dont take offense kevin, Im teasing you! :)

Anonymous said...

"* Hey, what about Meet the Robinsons? Welll .... it had well over half the work done when Ed Catmull and John Lasseter winged down from Pixar, therefore we won't count it."


Well, the way I recall it , Meet the Robinsons was almost finished (through animation) when JL came on board and ordered extensive changes. The picture's production extended for another 6 to 8 months while they made the extensive changes from John and the Pixar Brain Trust's notes.

Or did I just dream all that ?

pedro said...

""Ten months later, Lasseter was back in the screening room, watching Anderson's new version of "Meet the Robinsons," which is set for release March 30. Nearly 60 percent of the original film had been cut.""


"I dunno. Unless you're biased (aka work with sanders at dreamworks, hehe), everyone pretty much knew American Dog was a pretty troubled story."

Rapunzel was a troubled story too, and now is great
Anyway, congratulations to the crew of Bolt.

Anonymous said...

Bolt will have no competition when it comes out. M2 will have had its major hit on the box office and Bolt should be a financial success for Disney because Harry Potter is gone from its original release date.

if Bolt does not clean up then there is a bigger problem because all it needs to be is ok to good to make money in an empty family holiday market place.

Ghost of Christmas Future said...

Irrespective of how well "Bolt" does, CGI at Disney may be a thing of the past very shortly.

Anonymous said...

Rapunzel's story is great? Last I heard (couple weeks ago) they still didnt have a working story (after 7 years)

I dont think CGI at Disney will soon be a thing of the past. If anything, if The Princess and the Frog doesnt perform, 2D will again be a thing of the past.

fred said...

Ghost of Chistmas Future-
Is your prediction based on some actual inside knowlege, or are you just pulling some wishful speculation out of your butt?

I suspect the latter, given that Disney has publicly committed to, and announced, two more cg features, and is making at least two shorter cg projects as well. There is years and years of confirmed cg work down the line.

But feel free to correct me if you have something tangible to suggest otherwise. Otherwise I'll have to conclude you are simply another uninformed fanboy who has nothing of worth to add to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Hey Fred, keep drinking the cool aid why don't sha...Disney has had a "confirmed" list of movies on the pipeline forever. But that means absolutely nothing!!

Shit, I have a couple of features in development for that matter....

Disney talks the talk, but when it comes time to walk the walk, all they do is hand out the pink slips!

Typical corporate lies.


fred said...

Oh ok, it's just you. I was wondering if the comment from "Ghost" was from someone who's actually working, with actual information. Apparently not?

The Ghost of Christmas Future said...

The Ghost of Christmas Future merely said that the future of CGI at Disney is not ensured by a strong B.0. performance of "Bolt".

Disney has shut down more than one capable animation production facility based on executive decision.

And... if you want to tease out The Ghost of Christmas Future, you'll have to do better than to call her an "uninformed fanboy".

Sexist pig. ;-P

Kevin Geiger said...

Fred, I'd take "years and years of confirmed" ANYTHING with a grain of salt. ;-)

(That's a cautionary note based on experience, not wishful thinking.)

One thing I've learned in work and in life: expect the unexpected.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, how good is it? Story? Design? Execution? Animation? Voice talent? How do we judge?
If you've seen visual development, character designs at Disney you might feel they're of a high quality. Once they go to the modeling, look-dev departments what happens? Is it all the fault of the directors approving the work of these departments? Does the final product have the quality of the Incredibles or Finding Nemo which were done years ago? If a director is told that something he wants can't be accomplished by the CG Department is it his fault?
Let's just mention the voice talent, will John Travolta and Miley Cirus be as good as, or better than Mike Myres and Eddie Murphy? They might cost as much, right? Does Mark Walton steal the trailer? Is he making as much as Travolta? Is anybody mentioned as good as the children who did the voices in Bambi?

Quality of the story: Is it better than Chicken Little? How about The Incredibles, or Iron Giant? How about the Little Mermaid? And wait a minute, are any of these really better than Peter Pan? Or Sleeping Beauty? Or Bambi?
Do some films have true quality?
Why can't something like Peter Pan be made today? Is it just the executives' fault like is always said or is it the people, the company culture, or does it have to do with the artistic integrity of the whole group? Can one person or department change the quality of a movie?

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