Bolt is about a Hollywood dog from an action TV series that actually believes his theatrical feats are real superpowers. However, he gets a harsh dose of reality when he thinks his little girl owner is kidnapped by villains and he ventures out of Hollywood.
While the audience seemed to be sitting in the room simply to rest their feet and wait for the next panel, things got interesting very quickly when they started showing footage from the film. The first scene was from Bolt’s TV show where he’s a dog with superpowers. When his owner’s father is kidnapped, Bolt and the girl (voiced by Miley Cyrus) go on a rescue mission. They’re soon attacked by a goon who quickly discovers you don’t mess with Bolt. A car traps them in an alley and as the goon races down to ram them, Bolt runs forward, lowers his head, and rams the car sending it flying in the air. He follows it with a cute scratch of his collar and some panting. Bolt and the girl are then attacked by three helicopters which spit out a dozen goons on motorcycles. The girl pulls out a scooter from her backpack, gives Bolt a rope, and tells him to run. A spectacular motorcycle chase then ensues. When Bolt is finally surrounded by dozens of bad guys in Humvees, the girl tells Bolt, “Speak.” He braces his paws, rears back, and lets out a sonic bark that blows them all away like a hurricane.
Needless to say, this 10 minute or so action sequence had the audience’s attention. It was surprisingly funny, action packed, and utterly enthralling. As fun as it was, I started wondering how any of the rest of the film with Bolt in the real world could possibly be interesting. Boy, was I wrong.
We were treated to more scenes including one showing the other acting cats harassing Bolt (who thinks he still has superpowers, yet can’t get out of his trailer). John Travolta voices Bolt and does a pretty good job based on the little I saw. The cats were absolutely hilarious, but nothing compared to the hilarious hamster in a ball who aids Bolt. He’s a HUGE fan of Bolt and gleefully helps him escape from the dog catcher, then bust a friendly cat out of the pound. He gives an inspiring speech to Bolt about how he’s a symbol to millions, how he proves that no matter who you are, you can do the impossible…”as long as you’re AWESOME!!!!!” (OK, you’ll have to see it yourself.)
After these scenes, the crowd roared with applause and was more than primed for the November release of Bolt. This was a nice little surprise from Disney and SDCC.
Unfortunately, Pixar’s Up had a lot to live up to following Bolt. We were shown footage of Carl, the old man voiced by Ed Asner, about to leave his home to go to a retirement community. But just as they’re about to leave with him, he slams the door and suddenly releases hundreds of balloons into the sky. The house lazily begins floating into the air and away from the city. Carl intends to travel to Venezuela to see the remote plateaus and rainforests. He intends to fulfill a promise he made to his deceased wife to go there one day. Just as Carl settles into his living room in the floating house… there’s a knock at the door. The director revealed that it was a Boy Scout (of sorts) named Russell. He’s missing just one badge – the one for aiding the elderly. So the young man joins Carl on his quest to travel to Venezuela. We were shown some test footage of their interaction which was pretty funny and featured them carrying the house tied to themselves like a balloon through the rainforest.
This footage was charming and funny, but I still didn’t get a sense of what this movie was about or what Carl and Russell find in Venezuela. If there ever was a hard sell of a Pixar film, this is it. It felt more appropriate for a Pixar short than a feature length film. Disney and Pixar are going to have to do a bit more to get folks excited, but I’m sure people will see it simply based on Pixar’s past track record.