The Fox and the Bunny are on the case
Zootopia (released as “Zootropolis” over here) is Disney’s newest movie. Set in a city where anthropomorphisized animals live in specially made districts mimicking the habitats of their real life counterparts, the movie follows the exploits of the city’s first rabbit police officer, Judy. Judy takes it upon herself to solve the case of a missing otter and ropes in the help of a cunning street urchin Fox, Nick, or else faces the threat of losing her job.
Disney has made a bold move with the film’s story. The film is not just a “coming of age” story as well as a “buddy cop” movie but actually touches upon very topical themes of racial profiling and law enforcement. While this is an aspect of most movies which I’m always a little wary of, Disney handles the themes well with none of the protagonists being “holier than thou” in their intentions, not even the main protagonist Judy.
The movie moves through interesting phases, fleshing out the backgrounds of both Judy and Nick without it stealing the attention from what’s going on in the story. The film has also brilliant frivolous comedy moments. The sloth DMV scene is absolutely my favourite and, surprisingly, made me laugh both times I saw it despite it being featured in one of the film’s trailers. The very Godfather-esque Mr. Big sequence is also excellent. Also, I love it that Disney was unafraid to include plenty of visual gags and physical comedy as well to keep the film kinetic.
The “naturalist colony” scene was maybe a little on the dumb side. This being a Disney movie, there are obviously no visible genitalia on any of the animals which does add to the slight absurdity of the scene but also makes it perhaps slightly less impactful. However, since this scene actually does deal with the animals wearing clothes issue of the movie, I can’t really hate on it (especially since the punchline is so good).
Also, Judy and Nick’s rapport and chemistry is excellent and really carries the movie. I got the distinct feeling that Disney wasn’t trying to dumb down the film at all for children and a few of the jokes may even fly over the younger viewers’ heads. This approach had the added advantage of making the characters relatable (to real life) and thus made the characters less just background fodder for the animators. The mystery aspect of the story-line was also handled well with maybe one exception which I’ll get back to at the end of this review. The supporting cast also features a colourful array of personalities and though not all of them are realised fully, they actually add a good slice of life aspect to the film in general.
The one negative aspect I can highlight about the film is the ending. I felt it wrapped up everything way too conveniently and even felt a little rushed.
(Spoiler alert: In the end, it’s revealed that Bellwether is responsible for making the predators turn “savage” in order to make herself mayor. This ending conclusion was a little disappointing for two reasons. Firstly, considering that the movie actually makes the audience feel a lot of sympathy for her in all her prior scenes, revealing that she’s a conniving despot just felt like all of it was just shameless misdirection. Secondly, the revelation is shamelessly telegraphed as she walks into the scene because it honestly does feel like the film-makers made her the villain at the last possible moment. The fact that the recording carrot pen was also built up to this end to be the clincher for the story was honestly a little much for me too.
And finally, I found Nick becoming a police officer at the conclusion to be just way far-fetched and even a little disappointing as a final conclusion for him. Unless this is followed up in Zootopia 2, I’ll be seriously disappointed.)
Over-all though, Zootopia is an excellent film with a great story, great characters and a slightly more mature subject matter than what we’ve come to expect from Disney. Highly recommended for Disney fans but fans of excellent cinema in general.
Rating: 4 out of 5
- +1 The Story with all its turns and twists.
- +1 Judy and Nick’s chemistry
- +1 The Sloth Scene
- +1 The central theme of prejudice
- -1 The Ending conclusion