Last year, around the time this film was on in cinema, life was pretty busy. So I had to choose between this and Captain America 3: Civil War. Today I have no regrets on that decision (it was IMAX) – but it doesn’t mean I didn’t want to see this film. Fast forward nearly a year, this film, which made over a billion dollars at the box office without my contribution, became available to yours truly…What can I say?
First of all…what is the story? Well our film’s star is a little European Rabbit by the name of Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, aka Snow White in ABC’s Once Upon A Time). Judy comes from a family of Rabbits who run a farm in a land called Bunnyburrow, and ever since she was a kid, she wanted to be a Cop. 14 years (in Bunny years, which is about 2 years to us) after realising her dream, she packs up and leaves home for Zootropolis/Zootopia, where she trains to become the first ever Bunny Cop in a career field dominated by large predators and large herbivores. Her early days on the job were anything but the dream, which included her being outsmarted by a Hustling Fox named Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) and doing parking duty. However her life completely changes, when she’s finally given the opportunity to look for a missing animal…an Otter, who was last seen by a Hustling Fox.
Now to discuss what they were feeding the zoo animals on screen:
The CGI and Graphics everything you expect from a big budget Disney film. The animation was amazing, but oddly enough, it felt like a small step down…I have this feeling that I’ve seen it done better before, which is why I’m not suggesting perfection in this part.
The Art Style is very creative and beautiful to look at – taking the overall design style from recent 3D Disney movies (Tangled and Frozen) and applying them to animal character designs. On top of this, there is much variety in the visuals, in particular the presentation of different City districts within Zootopia, ranging from the Rainforest district to the Arctic to the Desert and so on (as a way to show that animals are more comfortable in certain parts of the city. Though they can go into other areas as well). It’s all beautiful to look at, and in its own way, makes you want to travel more.
The Voice Acting has some great choices, with each one suiting their character designs brilliantly, while at the same time, being the occasional surprise. Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy and Jason Bateman as Nick were perfect. Idris Elba played Bogo the African Buffalo, aka the Police chief, Tommy Chong played Yax the domestic Yak (who, like Chong, is probably into herbal refreshments), J.K. Simmons as Mayor Lionheart the Lion, Alan Tudyk as Duke Weaselton the Weasel, pop star Shakira as Gazelle the singing Thomson’s Gazelle, and my favourite 1, Maurice LeMarche as Mr Big, the most fearsome crime boss in Tundratown (LeMarche also voiced a similar cartoon character in build, but not in voice…as The Brain from Pinky and The Brain…there was possibly an inside joker there).
When it comes to the roles that each animal is given, Zootopia is excellent, particularly in its presentation of both stereotypes and anti-stereotypes. One thing that strikes me about Judy Hopps is how much of an inspiration they’ve made her – especially when it comes to how she approaches her dreams, as well as the work that’s given to her. As the first rabbit to qualify as a Cop, she wants everyone to make sure they know she belongs there, and tries her best not to budge. When her first job as a Cop is parking duty, she decides to use it as an opportunity to prove herself (“If I’m expected to do 100 parking tickets today – I’ll aim to do 200 by noon” is her attitude), and it’s oddly enough, setting a great real-life example. Is she flawed? Of course! She had a childhood experience involving a Fox, which taints her view on Nick at the beginning. At the same time, she’s a country girl in the big city and is bound to be more than a little naive about folk. And as the film progresses, you begin to realise that looks and character don’t mean the same thing.
The Story is a ombination of different genres all working together in harmony. The 2 main plots include a main character who is chasing after a dream by moving to the big city (basically Coyote Ugly if you’re old enough to remember that film…or Mulholland Drive if you’re a sick and twisted little puppy who drinks black coffee), and a Mystery story where animals are going missing and it’s up to Judy (and Nick) to find them, and find out who was behind their disappearances. What Zootopia tries to do is tell its audience to not judge by appearances. As a Fox, Nick is often stereotyped as sneaky and selfish, when in reality, he became the stereotype when others told him he was born for the role and traumatised him for it. Without going straight to the source, or saying their names, Zootopia also covers a lot of themes within social commentary. It addresses the fact that Zootopia is made up of 90% Herbivores and 10% Predators. Within the story it addresses that there was a time when Predators killed herbivores, but also that it’s something that isn’t practised anymore due to Predators evolving to only eat fish, bugs, cereal and fruit (seriously, this is all over the place). Some could argue that this reflects the modern world, as technology becomes more widely available, healthcare gets better, the Internet makes even a TV show on a small Island have a worldwide audience, cultures and religions become both exposed to each other and either given their place or embraced or tolerated or all the above. Others could argue that Zootopia is a metaphor for a major city with a large and highly diverse group of people, whether it be New York, Toronto, London or Paris to name a few. That it’s about co-existence and working together, no matter the background.
The Music is excellent, and very suitable for the film. It includes a song by Shakira called Try Everything, which is a genuinely lovely little pop song that suits the movie down to the ground in both tone and lyrical content. Judy fails many times while on the job – but it’s still what she wants to do, and the song reflects that. The rest of the soundtrack is an eclectic collection of scores (ranging from sad piano to exciting tampuras to upbeat african drums), reflecting each scenario while providing tunes that may be in 4/4, but give the illusion of different tune signatures.
Would I recommend Zootopia? Yes. It’s a very good, encouraging and uplifting film. Perfect for any mood, whether you’re up or down.
Art Style: *****
Voice Acting: *****