Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Balto (1995) Review:

It's rare that one finds an animated movie that has so much heart that isn't connected to Disney. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any others that stand out than this movie. Balto (1995), was loosely based off the real life events of an actual husky dog of the same name. The only difference is that the story was changed slightly to give the character of Balto a little more background. That is why it's loosely based off the actual events. Kudos to the four writers because it made this movie very enjoyable.

Balto & Jenna
Here, Balto lives on the edge of a town because he's not a husky. Yet somehow, everyone in the town, including the humans know his name? How is this possible (this is really the only thing I didn't understand)? His ancestry comes from dog/wolf, which leaves him in a bad spot because no one wants to trust him and the snooty pure bread husky dogs don't want a mutt joining their dog team. What Balto dreams most of, is running with the husky dogs and pulling the sleds they pull. And little does he know, but his chance will come sooner than he thinks, when a virus breakout comes on the town and he decides to fetch the medicine for the sick.

The cast in this film is horrendously good too. Kevin Bacon voices our hero, Balto. Bacon is able to make his role really sound courageous and emotional when it needs to be and that's good. Voicing his love interest is Bridget Fonda as a little girl's husky named Jenna. Even if this is Fonda's first time doing voice acting, she did a great job. She knows how to give Jenna the right tone of voice and emotion at the same time. And I got to admit, Jenna and Balto make an adorable dog couple. Thank you animation department! Let's also not forget our antagonist named Steele voiced by famous voice actor, Jim Cummings. Cummings, who can do this work in his sleep, also gives a convincing performance as the thickheaded, husky with way too much hubris.

The prideful Steele (left)
And along with Steele are always the knuckle head followers of the antagonist. All of which have their own quirkiness about them, which make them funny. But that's not all. Accompanying Balto on his travels are three other friends. Two are a duo of polar bears named Muk and Luk, which are both voiced by musician Phil Collins. Surprisingly, even Collins gives a memorable performance. But the character I found the most entertaining when it came to comic relief was Boris the goose (the other friend) played by Bob Hoskins. Boris is such a great character because of how well he knows Balto and the problems that he faces. It is because of that, that he does his best to make sure his closest friend is in good hands. If you don't fall for Boris, I don't know what will.

The art department did a nice job at keeping the view big and broad. Since the setting was in Alaska, it is only respective that the picture be epic looking. Mainly because, Alaska is epic period. Also I like the sounds a lot. Cracking ice to crunching snow. The one sound that I got chills from was hearing the wolves howl. I couldn't stop from getting goosebumps. I have no clue why but it gave me the shivers and that made me like it more. Adding to that was the soundtrack provided by composer James Horner and boy did it work. Excluding a few previous works that Horner has made that were mishaps, Horner really knows how to evoke the right emotions at the right time. It made watching Balto fun and invigorating.

The characters alone is what makes the cake in this movie. The icing to the cake is James Horner's music, the grand backgrounds and involving sound effects.

Points Earned --> 9:10

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