DC’s New 52

For the past few weeks I’ve been neck-deep in a slew of trades from DC’s New 52 run, and as I’ve absorbed each story I’ve paused and reflected which, if any, I wanted to write about.  Lately I’ve felt that my comics posts have been a bit negative in nature, primarily due to the fact that when I dislike a comic, I tend to have more to say about it than if  I liked it.  That being said, I don’t want this blog to morph into a comics-bashing site, so I’ve decided to write a more generalized post about the overall narrative in the New 52 comics.

When I realized that the New 52 was going to be a massive reboot of the continuity, I was a little annoyed.  Again, really? Didn’t we just go through this not that long ago? Okay yes, it was a little longer for readers at the time, rather than the few months it took me to read through the trades since the last reboot.  Still, is a reboot in the storyline really necessary every few years? I had a bad taste in my mouth before I even began, fearing that DC would start rebooting all of their comics every few years, simply for the sake of trying to garner new readers.

Since beginning the New 52 comics, my feelings have been mixed, to say the least.  The individual stories themselves are good, with overall solid writing and interesting storylines.  That being said, I was really unhappy with the massive overhaul that seemed to have taken place. It felt as though nearly the entire continuity had been rewritten, with plenty of characters completely changing while others were nowhere to be found.  As I was reading, I found myself wondering, “What was the point in reading these nearly 400 trades, if they were just going to reboot everything so that none of it mattered?”  Obviously that’s a rather cynical take, and it’s not as though those stories aren’t still part of canon or play a role in the stories being told.  It just felt like I was being expected to forget what I had read, and replace it with all of this new information. If it was frustrating for me, a person who’s only been reading comics for a little over a year, I can’t begin to imagine what lifelong fans were going through.

Other than this obvious change to the larger story, one of my biggest issues was with the overall tonal shift of the comics.  Prior to the New 52, DC had struck a good balance between tone and emotion with its individual titles.  Some were dark, others were more lighthearted, but all had a variety of emotions that lent a level of realism to the stories.  With the New 52, it felt as though DC believed the only way they would get and keep readers was to be edgy and dark, regardless of the title.  Batman is edgy and dark most of the time, yes, but should a Superman comic really be the same? Or even worse, Shazam!?  Certain titles that have no place being dark have been twisted and morphed into something they’ve never been before. I’m all for allowing characters to change and evolve over time, but some of these shifts were too drastic to be believable, and they were all inevitably towards this singular tone.  It seems the days of lighter comics like I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League are gone, leaving me to wonder if the tone of the DC multiverse will ever be as varied and diverse as it once was.

That being said, I can’t completely hate the reboot.  I genuinely respect what DC was trying to do, specifically in attempting to bring a level of diversity to its characters.  Many of these characters were created 60+ years ago, and because of the time period they were created, most are white males.  This doesn’t do much to bring in a more varied readership when there’s a large group of people who can’t relate to the bulk of your characters.  DC’s attempts to modernize its characters are obvious: Earth 2’s Green Lantern is now gay, Hawkgirl is black (and completely independent, I’m happy to note; no sign of Hawkman as of yet).  Even non-hero characters have been made more original and modern; my favorite being Lana Lang, now a strong and sassy electrical engineer who dives headfirst into danger and talks back to Superman when he’s annoying her.  The diversity is noticeable, and I applaud DC for wanting to branch out with their characters and reach out to a wider audience.

Still, as I’m reading these comics I can’t help but wonder if the massive reboot was really necessary. Couldn’t more diversity have been added without adding in this whole “everything still happened, it just happened in 5 years” thing? Couldn’t they have changed characters’ races and sexual orientations without completely rewriting their backstories?  If anything I think it would have been more powerful to reveal a long-standing character as gay, rather than completely rewrite their histories.  The stories are fun and entertaining to read, but it’s difficult to keep track of what’s still part of continuity and what isn’t. I vastly prefer a multiverse where everything that’s been written up until that point, both good and bad, is acknowledged as having happened.  Readers should be rewarded for their loyalty and knowledge, not pushed aside to make way for brand new fans who know nothing about the stories. (Is it obnoxious for me to say that, having only been reading comics for a little over a year?  I’ve read nearly 400 trades in that time, so I’m choosing to say no it’s not).

It’s somewhat comforting to know that Rebirth is just around the corner.  I have no idea what all is happening in the stories right now, but I’m confident that perhaps the continuity will be rewritten again, and hopefully for the better.  Had I been reading these comics a year or two ago, before Rebirth was a thing, I would no doubt have been really angry, feeling as though the past 75+ years of comics were for nothing, and that DC was looking to rewrite nearly everything in its history.  At least I can comfort myself with knowing that there is another reboot coming up soon enough, and will hopefully correct some of these issues I have with the New-52 era comics.  In the meantime, I’m just trying to enjoy the stories for what they are and focus less on their impact to the overall continuity.

-Jess

Shazam! Volume 1

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With DC’s 2011 “New 52” relaunch, plenty of characters and titles were revamped and “modernized” to various degrees.  There seemed to be a need to bring a sense of edginess to characters, whether they were historically edgy or not.  Truthfully, I never even thought about the implications it could have on Captain Marvel in the midst of all these changes.  i saw that Geoff Johns was writing a Captain Marvel comic, and the excitement in me took over. I was ready for some fun, old-fashioned Marvel-y goodness.

What I got was…well, definitely not that. It seems Captain Marvel didn’t scrape by unchanged in the midst of all the modernization.  The first and most notable change is his name.  Due to some legal mumbo jumbo, Marvel owns the name “Captain Marvel”, so DC had to title the original comic Shazam to avoid legal ramifications.  Apparently that led to people believing the comic title was actually the character’s name, so they just switched it and now his name is Shazam.

Understandable. I often mistakenly think Batman’s name is Detective Comics, since he’s predominantly featured in that series. *Sigh.  I refuse to accept this name change, so I will continue to refer to him as Captain Marvel because that’s his name. Also, DC coined that name more than 25 years prior to Marvel ever using it, so legalities be damned, it’s more their name than anything.

It was clear that Johns was going for a modern retelling of Billy Batson’s origin.  We still keep the “orphaned” element, but here we get to see him in foster care along with other children, including Mary and Freddy. I can appreciate the fact that Mary is not depicted here as his biological sister, lending itself to the “family is what you make of it” sentiment.  I’m sure they could always swing it back around and reveal that the two are blood relatives, but I didn’t find this change to have much of an impact on the overall story, and so I was fine with it.

What I wasn’t fine with was Billy being depicted as this obnoxious, snot-nosed punk kid who is mean to literally everyone he encounters.  Yes, he’s had a rough life. Yes, he’s been bounced around foster homes. Is that really any reason to completely change his character’s personality though?  I loved Billy’s sweetness and innocence.  It was a welcome relief to some of the more hardened, cynical heroes (looking at you, Batman).  Here, we just get the edgy, modern Billy Batson, who doesn’t even begin to resemble the Billy of older comics.

Had it been as simply as this, perhaps I could overlook the change. It could all boil down to personal preference and that would be the end of it. Sadly, that’s not the case.  Billy’s entire origin story is predicated on the fact that Billy is a pure-hearted individual, and so the wizard Shazam imbues him with powers.  Here, Billy is considered completely unworthy, and argues with Shazam that nobody is pure of heart, to which Shazam grudgingly agrees and then just gives Billy his powers.  Where’s the worthiness? Where’s the desire to do something good? For all Shazam knows, Billy could have taken the powers and become a conduit for evil.  All Shazam knew was that Billy had the potential to be both good and bad.  Those hardly seem like odds worth staking the fate of the world on.  Billy’s personality shift directly alters his entire origin, and I found it far less compelling when I didn’t believe he was actually worthy of the power he was receiving.

To be fair, I didn’t hate all of the comic.  I loved that Johns managed to sneak in references to Tawny the Tiger, and the end reveal of a future team-up between Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind was really fun.  Still, I couldn’t get past Billy’s characterization, and it wound up distracting me throughout most of the trade.

Perhaps it wasn’t Johns decision. Maybe higher ups in the company dictated how Billy should be written. Or, perhaps Johns was thinking ahead to his Justice League: Trinity War storyline, in which the concept of finding a pure-hearted individual played heavily into the plot. There, Pandora was seeking someone with a pure heart to open her box and contain the world’s evil. In a pre-New 52 universe, Billy would have been the obvious answer.  His moral compass unfailingly pointed north, and he no doubt would have been the solution to the problem.  So, maybe Johns wanted to fill in that plot hole by writing Billy as a more flawed character.  This could be a stretch, but then I wouldn’t put it past Johns to have thought that far ahead. It also helps me resign myself to how Billy’s been characterized, but only slightly. If his entire story has been changed for the sake of one storyline, I just don’t see it paying off in the long run.

The Shazam! trade was relatively brief, as Billy was still adjusting to his newfound powers.  I’m hoping he slowly gains a conscience and begins to shift to being more like his character of yore, but I have a feeling his, “Golly, gee wiz” days are over.  It’s a shame, because I found him to be such a sweet and endearing character.  Portraying him as a cynical, moody teenager feels just a little too…well, realistic for me. Is it really terrible for a comic to linger in nostalgia for a little while, allowing the reader to reminisce about simpler times, however false those memories may be?

I love most of Johns work, and having ready pretty much everything he’s written for DC (at least as far as the beginning of the New 52 so far), I don’t say that lightly.  He knows his stories and always brings a unique and interesting spin to characters. Unfortunately, I just feel he missed that mark with Captain Marvel.  Billy could have been revamped without completely changing who he is or how he responds to the world.  I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who enjoy his newer, modern characterization, but I’ll take his endearing, earnest goodness over the cynicism any day.

-Jess

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

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It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve watched a decent Disney film that The Princess and the Frog was a breath of fresh air.  After the less-than-stellar previous films the studio released, they seemed to want to return to their roots, building a huge promotional campaign around the fact that this would be a hand-drawn animated picture. Of course, that’s partially true. There are still computer generated graphics and backgrounds in the film, but the characters themselves are hand-drawn, lending a sense of classicism that has been missing from recent films.

The Princess and the Frog is loosely (very loosely) based on “The Frog Prince”. We all know the story: princess kisses frog, frog turns into handsome prince, they live happily ever after. Obviously, this would have been a pretty short movie if they stuck to the original tale, so Disney altered it quite a bit (after all, that’s sort of Disney’s M.O.).  In their version we meet Tiana, a strong-willed, driven young woman with dreams of one day opening her own restaurant. Enter Naveen, a spoiled and penniless prince who gets wrapped up with a magician who turns him into a frog.  Naveen seeks out a princess to turn him back into a prince, but instead finds Tiana. Mistaking her for a princess, they kiss, but Tiana is turned into a frog herself, leading the two to journey across Louisiana’s bayous in search of a way for them both to change back.

The premise alone is cute, but then most Disney films sound cute in theory.  What’s nice is that this one actually follows through on that cuteness, providing a fun and magically animated escape for viewers.  The animation, especially in the bayou scenes, is great, with fireflies flitting across the water and just enough magic sprinkled throughout to remind us that this is Disney.

What stood out to me most about this film was that Tiana is not a princess; she’s just a hard-working girl with a dream.  She’s not looking to get married or have someone take care of her.  Instead, she works two jobs to save up every penny she needs to make her dreams a reality.  It’s admirable, and a far better role-model for young girls than some of the earlier Disney princesses (looking at you, Aurora).

That being said,  both Mistah J and I admitted that we preferred the scenes that bookended the film; that is, the scenes where Tiana is human.  The frog portion is fun, but her human story is so much more compelling, and more about her.  As a frog she finds love and realizes there’s more to life than success, which is all well and good, but her drive towards her goal is what really gives the film heart. Not only is it a great story, but it’s so progressive by Disney standards that it can’t help but stand out.  I honestly would have preferred to watch an entire movie about Tiana working towards her restaurant opening, without any love interest being included (sorry Naveen).

All things considered, I really enjoyed this film. It’s not perfect, of course: the bad guy isn’t really fleshed out enough to feel like a real threat, and seems to just exist in the background so that the film has an antagonist.  Frankly, Naveen’s selfishness could have filled this role just as well, but I suppose we needed some explanation as to why people are turning into frogs… The Princess and the Frog is certainly a big step in the right direction for Disney’s animation.  By simply stepping back and reassessing what made them so popular in past decades, they were able to craft a film that has the perfect blend of magic and realism, hearkening back to the height of their film-making.  It’s a wonderful feeling, as though the company is returning to the classic storytelling methods of my childhood, making me excited to work my way through their newest films.

-Jess

Batgirl: Batgirl Rising

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I’m going a bit rogue, posting about comics out of continuity order, and ones I read quite a while back on top of that.  I’m taking a more lackadaisical approach to the blog, writing about whatever comic I feel like, regardless of its place in continuity. I’m still reading the comics in continuity order to keep up the overall narrative, but why limit myself to writing about everything in order? It keeps it more fun this way.

Okay, on to the comic at hand:

I really, really like Stephanie Brown as Batgirl.  Watching her begin as Spoiler, progressing to her all-t00-brief role as Robin, her death, the reveal that she was alive all along, and finally taking up the mantle of Batgirl has been quite a roller coaster.  I was hesitant when Cassandra Cain took on the role; I liked Barbara and wasn’t thrilled when Cassandra took over. Then Cassandra left and Stephanie adopted the role, which was likewise a bit troublesome.

Yes, I was a bit attached to Barbara as Batgirl, and given how violently Barbara’s role as such ended, how could I not be a bit upset that the character was moving on without her?

Stephanie’s story was the best of both worlds, with Barbara’s Oracle mentoring and helping Stephanie as she adopted her new mask.  The two shared a believable, sisterly bond, sometimes arguing and disagreeing but ultimately caring for one another and working together when it mattered most.  More than anything, both young women felt incredibly relatable and real, no easy feat when dealing with masked vigilantes.

Not only does Stephanie deal with being Batgirl, but she gets to address plenty of other issues that typical teenagers might face. Breaking up with her boyfriend (Tim Drake), wanting Batman’s approval (no doubt a substitute for her absent father): these are all realistic scenarios that readers can relate to, while still providing escapism in the form of nightly crime-fighting.  I’m a fan of this balance in stories, helping ground otherwise fantastical comics in our own reality.

Sadly, Stephanie’s tenure as Batgirl was all too brief.  There are only a few short trades collecting her run as Batgirl before New 52 hit, altering continuity and making Barbara Gordon Batgirl once again, and this is the only trade from that run collected on “the shelf”.  I haven’t come across any reference to Stephanie in the New 52 yet, either as Batgirl or otherwise, wondering if I will at all.  It’s too bad, really. Stephanie was such a great addition to the Bat family, flawed and unsure, trying to come to terms with her own identity even as she attempted to craft one for herself.  There was a humanity to her character that was all too real, and that went a long way in helping create a truly engaging, likable comic.  I’m hoping at some point down the road, perhaps Stephanie will return.  With Barbara back it seems unlikely, but I’m holding out hope that maybe she’ll come back in some capacity. She’s much dynamic to be kept out of the fray.

-Jess

Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood

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Amidst DC’s relaunch with the New 52, every title in their collection was restarted at issue #1, with numerous changes to continuity being established and laid forth in the ensuing comics.  Some things have changed, many remain the same, and some characters and events are as yet unknown as to how they play into this new multiverse.

I’d already read the first three trades of the newest Superman, so I knew that even the most seminal of characters would be facing some changes.  That being said, reading this Wonder Woman trade has only further proven to me that there is an inherent flaw in the way writers choose to tell Diana’s story. There have been numerous continuity shifts throughout the run of DC comics, but for the pillar characters of Superman and Batman, much of their mythology remains unchanged.  Superman was sent to Earth from a dying Krypton by his parents; Batman watched his parents be gunned down in Crime Alley.  The minor details may shift over the years, but these basic tropes are kept in place.

…And then there’s Diana. Over the years her origin has been rewritten countless times. She was the shaped from clay, she was Hippolyta’s child brought forth by the Gods.  Now, it is revealed that she is the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus.  These constant changes to the core being of a character as seminal as Wonder Woman have helped keep her from attaining the same mythological weight as her fellow heroes.   With so many changes, Diana’s history feels uncertain. Whereas Batman and Superman have certain facets of their history that remain unchanged, Diana’s is more blurry. Yes, she’s always an Amazon who travels to man’s world, but her motives and backstory vary enough to keep a clear image of her purpose from forming.  It leaves her character feeling uneven and ungrounded, something that is not true of the other key DC heroes. While Batman and Superman’s stories can generally be read as a single narrative despite the reboots and continuity shifts, Diana’s are often completely rewritten, making it difficult to align her stories into one cohesive history.

This leaves us with little choice but to approach each run on the title as self-contained. That being said, Brian Azzarello’s run so far has been quite well done. Wonder Woman, upon learning that Zeus is her father, strikes out on her own and attempts to defend a young girl (pregnant with Zeus’s child) from Hera’s wrath.  The goddess has vowed to destroy her husband’s mistress and unborn child (obnoxiously blaming the young girl who didn’t even know she was sleeping with a god rather than blame her philandering husband).  Diana does what she can to stop Hera, though facing off against numerous gods proves to be difficult.

I appreciate the fact that Azzarello enlists less common gods for his story. We get to see lesser names like Hermes and Strife, rather than solely focusing on the biggies like Ares and Zeus.  I enjoyed seeing Wonder Woman branch out within the mythology, acknowledging that there are more than just a small handful of gods to work with.  That being said, one minor issue I took with the story was the fact that Azzarello bounces back and forth between the Greek and Roman naming of the gods.  Within one scene, the same character refers to the king of the gods as both Zeus and Jupiter, and while both are technically the same name for one being, the inconsistency bothered me. Perhaps it was intentional to keep from locking in to a single mythology, pointing out that these are the gods of numerous civilizations. Nevertheless, it was a small detail that bugged me while reading, and took me out of the story a bit.

Overall Aazarello’s story was engaging and enjoyable, but at the same time I still can’t get over the fact that Diana’s story over the years is so disjointed. This is no fault of Azzarello’s, but rather the result of numerous writers reworking Diana’s origin, motives, and history.  Her story has a much less solid foundation than Superman or Batman’s, providing less for future writers to build upon.  Though one of the core three, Diana’s continues to remain the weakest of the three stories. It’s a shame, because it really feels like there is so much there to work with. No one can seem to agree on how she should be portrayed though: fierce warrior ready to fight at any given moment, proponent for peace who believes all life is sacred, or a combination of both?  Only when this motivation is worked out once and for all will her character be able to gain a more firm footing within the continuity.

-Jess

The Multiversity

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Have I mentioned how much I love Grant Morrison?

DC has gone back and forth with the concept of the multiverse for decades now. It existed, then it didn’t, then it did again. The idea was always interesting to me, but I must admit that at times I found it downright confusing.  The earliest hints of it, when all we had were Earths 1 and 2, was confusing enough, but at least could mostly be kept straight.  Once they threw in numerous Earths though, I got a little lost.  I’m on more firm ground now, but only after fumbling my way though multiple trades spanning decades of publication, constantly asking Mistah J to explain who is from which Earth or what makes that Earth different from another (the man has the patience of a saint).

I wish I could have had a collection like Multiversity earlier on in my readings.  Loosely interconnected stories about the various 52 Earths that comprise the multiverse, Grant Morrison’s Multiveristy attempts to explain just what the heck is going on in DC Comics after the New 52 launch.  Many of the issues collected here are just brief asides, meant to fill us in on what numerous obscure characters are up to in this new reality (Captain Carrot! You’re back!).  Occasionally people from various Earths will interact, reminding the reader that the worlds are all interconnected, but for the most part they exist on their own, and their stories merely help to flesh out this newly formed multiverse.

My favorite collection in this trade is smack dab in the middle, in which Grant Morrison puts together a handy-dandy compendium about each and every Earth in the multiverse.  He writes a brief summary of each world, noting who are the key heroes on that world, or what might set it apart from others.  He does this for EVERY Earth.

Well, almost every one. Since Morrison is a genius, he’s far too intelligent to shackle the entire DC writing team with his vision of the entire multiverse (at least that’s what I’m choosing to believe).  He left seven of the worlds as mysteries, saying that little is known about them at this time. This is brilliant, and you can’t tell me otherwise. Those worlds can remain mysterious until a time arises that a writer can make use of one of them, and create their own Earth within the multiverse that can play into a future story.  Much better planning that forcing a writer to work with what you’ve already roughly laid out, no?

They may not be super detailed, but the Earth descriptions are just enough to make me want to read more about many of them.  My favorite by far is hardly mentioned in this trade, sadly: Earth 11, a.k.a. the Girl Power Earth (that’s what I call it, at least) where women are the primary heroes.

Um…YES PLEASE. Somebody needs to write the heck out of an Earth 11 comic right now, thanks.

Given how obvious it is that DC wanted to create a natural jumping-on point for new readers, a series like Multiversity is only logical.  Morrison brought plenty of talent and creativity to it to keep the series from feeling stiff or encyclopedic, which I greatly appreciated.  There’s no doubt in my mind that many of these Earths will play into other New 52 comics (many already have, in fact) so I’m grateful for this primer on the various Earths I may encounter in my reading.

If only this existed back in my early days of reading “the shelf”, maybe I wouldn’t have been so utterly confused as to what the heck was going on. Oh well, if anything it shows me how far I’ve come, so I can’t really complain.

-Jess

Bolt (2008)

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I watched this movie once when it was first released on DVD. Of course, I was babysitting a 4-year old at the time who spent the whole film putting stickers all over my face, so I can’t say I remember much of it. I had thought that it was somewhat decent though, at least as far as I remembered. I was even happy to be out of Disney’s dreary slump, figuring this would be a step in the right direction.

Sigh. I hate when I’m wrong, especially when it means sitting through another Disney misstep.  The opening scene, though a bit surprising, grabbed my attention. It feels a lot like an action film, with a supe-rpowered dog battling bad guys and trying to save his owner.  About two minutes into the film we realized that Bolt was basically Krypto the Wonder-Dog, pondered why a studio didn’t just make that movie because it would be such an easy success, and then decided to just go with the “Bolt is really Krypto” thing because it made the film more enjoyable. I figured we were in for an odd but enjoyable ninety minutes.

…And then the first scene ended, and it’s revealed that the whole thing is all scripted for a television series.  For some unknown reason, the producers decided that they got a better reaction out of Bolt when the dog believed he actually has superpowers, and so never let him see the cameras/find out that it’s all fake.

Um…what the heck??  First of all, how do you hide an entire film crew from a friggin’ dog, and why would you even bother?  This is completely nonsensical and quite frankly turned me off from the movie early on. I’m totally fine suspending disbelief, but that’s generally for more fantastical situations. If we’re supposed to be watching this movie knowing full-well that there are no super-powered puppies running around, then the rest of the film should be equally rooted in reality.  Not so. Instead, an episode of the show ends with Bolt’s owner Penny being “kidnapped”, and Bolt, believing it’s real, runs away to try and rescue her.

What follows is painfully predictable. Bolt meets up with a couple side characters (a street-wise alley cat and a t.v.-addicted hamster) and slowly realizes that he doesn’t really have special powers after all.  The cat teaches him how to be a proper dog (fetching, drinking out of the toilet, etc etc) as they make their way across country to try to get back to Penny.

The climax of the film ends with Penny and Bold being trapped in a burning building, with a surprisingly ominous scene in which the two seem to resign themselves to dying in the fiery inferno.  It’s up to Bolt to use his “super bark” to save the day, alerting a rescue team to their whereabouts. The film abruptly ends with Penny and Bolt leaving the show in favor of a quieter, real life, complete with the newly adopted cat and hamster.

I wanted to like this movie, honestly.  After a slew of less-than-stellar films, I had high hopes that Disney would turn it around with this one. Unfortunately, it just feels like it misses the mark yet again.  Bolt at least attempts to instill a sense of heart into the film, a trademark of any true Disney classic, but it just doesn’t quite live up to the expected level of sentiment.  I think my primary issue with the movie is that it feels too self-conscious; had the film been a straight-up “superhero dog” movie, I probably would have liked it better. As it stands though, it’s as though Disney was too worried that something so basic would work, and so spend much of the film poking fun at Bolt for believing that his powers are real. A word to Disney writers: magic is sort of your bread and butter. People love your films because of the magical, fantastical element. We want to believe that anything is possible, no matter how far-fetched. The Disney crew on this film just didn’t seem to believe in their power to convince the audience that that magic was real, and so left us with a film that feels a bit flat and too condescending to be a true Disney classic.

Bolt is not the worst of the worst, but I had higher hopes going in. I’ve seen it, but I think once is enough for me. Knowing what films await me in upcoming weeks, I know Disney is capable of so much more, and that it’s not just my adult bias clouding my judgement.  Future films on the list of Disney releases will garner a great deal of praise from me, even though they were released in my adult years. Sadly, Bolt is not one of them. It’s missing the earnest sentiment and belief that anything’s possible that makes a Disney film truly great.

-Jess