Tuesday 29 March 2016

Today's Review: Zootropolis

Zootropolis, Zootopia, whatever you want to call it, it's the new movie from Disney. Now, I can't say I'd heard too much about this before I went in, which is weird, as I've read it received quite a widespread marketing campaign in America, even going so far as to reach out to the furry community... But still, this is a Disney movie, and it's something of a tradition for me to go and see every Disney animated classic with the kids (as well as every Pixar), so off we went.

Zootropolis is set in a world where primates did not evolve into humans, so all the other mammals picked up the slack. The result is a world vastly populated by animals of all shapes and sizes, living together in harmony. Well, not quite perfect harmony, as our story follows a plucky young bunny named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) who follows her dream to become a police officer in the sprawling city of Zootropolis (or Zootopia), in spite of the accepted norm that bunnies can't be police officers. Struggling to be taken seriously by her co-workers, Hopps decides to take on a missing mammal case, and with the help of small time con-man (or con-fox) Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) they come to realise that there may be a bigger conspiracy at large.

Much like Wreck-It-Ralph, Zootropolis seems to be an idea more suited to Pixar than regular Disney. The premise of fully evolved mammals is a very interesting one in itself, and it's perfectly fleshed out into a vibrant, fully realised world. All the animals are perfectly animated, and the very logistics of them all living together in one city are perfectly planned out, from neighbourhoods in the city to how they interact with each other. Many details are in passing, but the attention to detail is astounding, and it makes for some fantastic visual gags that kept me studying every scene just to catch further glimpses at how this world operates.

The story is, on the surface, a standard buddy cop, police procedural affair, and while it does follow the generic small-case-leads-to-bigger-conspiracy plot points, the overall underlying message is a very deep and meaningful one, especially in this day and age. There's a permanent underlying theme that the animals in this world are judged automatically based on their species, and the tenacity of our bunny heroine does a lot to spell out that things don't have to be that way. It helps that a lot of the characters are wonderfully constructed. Judy Hopps is a bunny motivated by her dream career, but also by a sense of justice and equality. She is a leading lady with integrity and tenacity that doesn't resort to stereotype in any way, and is perfectly portrayed by Goodwin. Bateman adds a terrific performance as Nick Wilde, a multi-layered character who is at times utterly hilarious. Sure, not every character is quite as complex, in fact a few of them are walking clichés, but all of them possess great attention to detail and some great voices to bring them all to life. With the dynamic duo at the helm, though, the story carries along perfectly, the dynamic between Bateman and Goodwin is just fantastic. 

Zootropolis is a great movie. It looks fantastic, and portrays a wonderfully crafted and populated world that I'd love to see more of. It carries some great messages about stereotypes and prejudice, employs some hilarious visual comedy, and even manages to be a pretty damn good police movie. Disney have done it again.

My rating: 5/5

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