Bolt was one of a handful of animated movies I didn’t mind watching more than once. Sure, John Travolta voicing a superhero dog was funny, especially when you consider his owner was voiced by Miley Cyrus, but the narrative itself was decent enough that it warranted a couple of views. As a result, I was intrigued to see Bolt make Disney’s Blu-ray 3D release list this holiday season, because if the movie itself was worth a view, imagine what it would be like in 3D — especially if the 3D effects were as expertly conceived as another archival movie released at about the same time: Chicken Little.
When you first startup Bolt on Blu-ray 3D, you’ll swear it’s going to have some of the best 3D effects around. The clarity of the video, the way the film keeps the characters in frame with such precision, and the sense of depth as Penny and Bolt run from their pursuers are all something to behold. For eight to 10 minutes, Bolt will have you sitting up and begging for more like Travolta’s on-screen canine. But just as Bolt realizes he’s less than super powered, so do viewers realize that the entire Bolt Blu-ray 3D package can’t maintain that level of excellence throughout.
Bolt the character has nice facial depth, attributed primarily to his long dog nose and thus a forced perspective. The other characters, though, whether human, hamster or feline, don’t have the same depth and don’t pop from the screen as much. The environments are crisp and have a certain illustrated/2D depth to them, but the “tangible” depth that makes images jump from the screen in three dimensions isn’t as strong. When Bolt runs through the world and objects pass by, the dimensionality of those scenes can’t be ignored. But most scenes in the movie don’t involve such action, and when he or any other character is merely “existing” in the world, the latest Bolt Blu-ray 3D release seems like another top-notch 2D Disney animated film.
The on-again, off-again 3D excellence is undermined further by a weird ghosting effect that surfaces occasionally when viewing hard edges. It doesn’t appear to be your normal crosstalk, which occurs when the left and right images aren’t aligned or in sync. Instead, it’s almost as if the 3D TV’s transmission frequency is sporadically misfiring, resulting in an infrequent but annoying “halo” effect with certain objects. Again, it only happens on hard-edged objects, and it only happens on occasion, but it occurs with enough regularity to be distracting and, frankly, quite annoying.
For instance, in one alleyway scene, multiple crates in the foreground and background have what appear to be two outer edges, one being a “hard edge” and one more like an aura that hovers at a uniform distance around that hard edge. In another scene, the thin neck of Bolt’s feline friend has a distinct edge, but also that same weird aura effect. At first blush it seems to be crosstalk, but it appears uniformly around certain outlines and even gives way at times to a similar-looking “glow” on human characters’ flesh tones. I’ve never seen a visual snafu quite like it on any Blu-ray 3D, yet it surfaces pretty regularly on Bolt.
To be fair, when Bolt is “on” in terms of its 3D effects, it really is on. The three pigeons that provide comic relief at certain points look amazing, and the way they walk and perch is fantastic. When Bolt meets Rhino the hamster, Bolt’s close-up poses during the recruitment speech look just as if you’re face-to-muzzle with Bolt himself. Some of the 3D gotcha gags are nice too, although only about half of them really pack a punch.
From a cinematography standpoint, the way the camera keeps Bolt and other main characters within the frame also augments the 3D, because any time a character is fully within the frame it helps immensely — even if a scene doesn’t have the best depth otherwise. That’s the case with every Blu-ray 3D and isn’t unique to Bolt, but it’s definitely something you notice and appreciate in this one.
Still, the weird ghosting effect and occasional appearance of being 2D only don’t do Bolt any favors, particularly when stacked-up against Chicken Little, which looks phenomenal in 3D, or any of the Toy Story Blu-ray 3Ds. If you or your child(ren) are big Bolt fans, this is a fine release. But if you’re just in the market for a solid 3D title, there are other ones out there that will give you more 3D bang for your buck.
Click the following link to check the latest price on Bolt Blu-ray 3D at Amazon.