Zootopia is a Different Kind of Animal
Genre: Animated,Action, Adventure
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Bonnie Hunt, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Shakira.
Unlike 2015, I thought that 2016 was going to be an exceptional year in animated films. Already, we had Kung Fu Panda 3, a funny, colorful, action-laden delight. Now we have Zootopia, which seemed like another strong contender for among the best animated films of 2016. (Given some of the trailers I saw before the film, it may wind up being among the top three.)
As many of the younger generations (Under 40) fondly recall, Disney Animation hit their peak in the late 1980’s-1990s with classics starting with The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995), Hercules (1997), Mulan (1998), Tarzan (1999), Emperor’s New Groove (2000), and Lilo and Stitch (2002). These films helped alter animated film history forever. Many of them are beautifully crafted with excellent scripts, memorable characters, and stunning visual displays. They remain the gold standard that all animated films need to attempt to live up to (and very few even come close).
Then something happened and Disney’s quality took a hit. Perhaps it was the rise of competition like Dreamworks, and Pixar which eventually merged with Disney. Something changed and while the company released decent films like Bolt (2008) and Princess and the Frog (2009), they lacked the magic and allure of their previous films of the aforementioned 1990s.
The company has since made a comeback which started with the very successful Tangled (2010), then Wreck-It Ralph (2012), the mega-hit that was Frozen (2013), and finally Big Hero 6 (2014). (All major box-office hits) Disney has been quietly putting out major hits with consistency again and I think that Zootopia (2016) may be their best yet of this new wave.
This film was getting great reviews from my most trusted Youtube sources (Chris Stuckman and Jeremy Jahns), the film did marvelously overseas and even better on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not always sold on a movie just because it gets high marks. Often it is the trailers that make me decide to see a film or not. I really enjoyed the trailers for Zootopia, they provided me with a glimpse of a humorous, imaginative, and entertaining world. I did hear one reviewer calling it the best Disney animated film in twenty years. I thought that was a stretch and went in seeing how close that claim was to truth. After seeing the film, I wouldn’t argue much if someone said it was their best film since Mulan. Zootopia really impressed me with its humor, its message, and the characters they presented us.
There was very little to hate about this film. I suppose if you wanted to go after little details, the language was at times too complex for younger viewers. I like when an animated movie challenges its younger audiences with themes and concepts, but there were a few times I could see kids being lost.
My only real issue were a couple moments where the film lulled, you knew it was leading to something, but it took a while to reach it. Sure enough the movie picks up pace again and rolls to a satisfying conclusion.
The rest of this movie is fantastic. The script is smart, funny, and dove into heavy concepts which we now face in our world. From issues of racism, sexism, drugs, to even what I suspect was to combat Islamophobia (I can’t directly say that was the intent of the film, but I picked up on it. Then again, it may have just been similar to their racism theme in the film.) These are other important things that young and old can learn about. To consider how we treat others and how we can cause great injury even when not intending to.
Some other more traditional ideas included were to never give up and follow your dreams, that hard work can be a path to success, to stick by your friends even when things get tough, and always try to stay positive. This film was able to masterfully integrate these softer ideas in with their heavier counterparts.
The visuals in this movie were beautiful. The film didn’t transcend the animated film to a new level, but used the technology and artistic style which is popular to create their film. (Some may see this as a flaw, but the film focused on pushing limits elsewhere other than animation style.) The music was energetic and positive, nothing felt forced about it.
This movie made me laugh and made my eyes water a bit (real men cry, deal with it). The two main characters Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) were interesting, developed characters with hopes, dreams, failures all wonderfully showcased within the film. The film has less of a villain and more of a conspiracy to uncover. Fear is the villain (and not the Rise of Guardians kind) and I found their use of this to be a very mature and overall impressive way to go.
The humor in this movie is the last thing I touch on. There of course was some childlike humor as there should be, but much of the best jokes were directed at the adult audience. The pop cultural references (because if your seven year old knows The Godfather connection, I’m a little worried). The humor was for all ages, but I felt compared to most films, very mature.
If you are looking for a great animated film, Zootopia is up there with some of Disney’s finest. I would hold off on putting it up against The Lion King, but I believe this film could tower over the recent predecessors. This animation film will have to be at least considered for best of 2016 and could have a major impact for years to come.
Loved It- I really loved this film. It made me think “Wow!” when I was watching it. If you are like me and enjoy animated movies, then Zootopia is a must see. However, it is not a mindless flick, the adults will laugh as much if not more than the children. The themes can be very dark and troubling for the youngest of viewers. Rest assured, I will one day own a copy of this film and I will enjoy sharing it with others for years to come.