The first Disney offering of the year is about animals livng in a space that people might normally live in. Like all the other Disney films.
I’m joking. I’m really happy I went to see this on impulse, and it is a mightily impressive offering. Something I realize only now is that this is the film that The Good Dinosaur might have been had it been more adventurous and bold with its dinosaurs-surviving into human times concept.
Firstly, the animation is spectacular. That often goes without saying with most modern animated vistas, but this is particularly beautiful. It pushes the number of colours and aspects of scenes on-screen to new numbers, doing way more in that department than Inside Out and Big Hero 6. However, this being the work of Rich Moore, a rich and fully-functioning world is on offer, and that really helps sell the characters and their plights.
Judy Hops is a rabbit, and wants to break the mould for her kind and be a police officer, something only normally done by the larger animals and predators. Eventually, she finds her way out of the dull bumpkin life, and is at the bottom of the rung of police officer duties, as a meter-maid. Hops hopes to do more than this, and through some circumstances, she finds herself investigating a proper case, finding her way into the missing predators investigation and getting involved into a wider conspiracy.
The net result of Rich Moore’s futurama-esque humour and this lovingly crafted world is a proper detective adventure. Clues you detect early on that aren’t shoved into your face, and you have the opportunity to work things out. The mystery itself is extraordinarily topical. The missing animals have a particular connection, and once that connection is brought up, a race row begins.
More convincing world-building is achieved in a couple of minutes of a train journey in Zootropolis than 3 hours of a world-building-dedicated film that was recently released. The writing and construction and design of everything int he film is utterly seamless. You will forget that you’ve only seen this world in this film, and feel like you’ve always known it very quickly. That achievement is somewhat owed to the fact that it has a very real and dark story that unfolds.
The racism explored in Zootropolis is subtle at first and then quickly relates to real life moments. ‘Rabbits can call other rabbits cute, but its kind of offensive if other animals call us cute…’ being one of my favourite examples. It leads to a topical discussion of prejudice in the context of terror. In a kids film that’s mainly being sold on the basis of comical sloths in a DMV.
Zootropolis made me like Jason Bateman. That’s a review in itself. There’s some terrific vocal work from J.K Simmons and Idris Elba on offer as well.
A terrific addition to the Disney catalogue.