Image via Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios is back after a year absence, with not one, but two feature films, the other being this November’s ‘Moana’. After a string of successful hits like ‘Tangled’, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, ‘Big Hero 6’ and ‘Frozen’ in their new revival era for the company, returning to its heyday that mirrors their renaissance days, ‘Zootopia’ continues the studio’s success in quality animation storytelling, above any animation company in the business today. I know I’ve called Walt Disney Animation Studios the new Pixar, but now I think they are their own identity, surprising audiences like they did when they first began with their first feature film in 1939.
Welcome to Zootopia, a city that never sleeps, populated by anthropomorphic animals. A small bunny named Judy has a dream of becoming a cop, although her parents and the rest of the world disagree with her dream. Fast forwarding time, she gets a job as the first bunny cop at ZPD (Zootopia Police Department) , however she is stuck with a job she hates, designated to parking duty. However, when a case opens, she takes the job, trying to solve the crime with a wise cracking fox named Nick Wilde.
Where do I even start with this film? First, let’s talk about the city itself. The city of Zootopia is brilliantly designed, and shows so much creativity on display, to little gags that revolve around different animal species, to the in-joke mockery of human made cities, but with animal puns. Unlike ‘Shark Tale’ where they are so obvious at making fun of real world companies – to the point it looked like a commercial, here with ‘Zootopia’ the city signs and advertisements are not too obvious, and are hidden behind the film’s story, which is the case it should be.
The story is strong, and continues Disney’s excellence in developing fun and entertaining stories, although at times the film is often a bit slow, mainly the start of the film where we quickly go through the police academy to quickly get the film’s plot kickin’ into gear (‘The Country Bears’ reference). Although, the film is often at times dark, and can be a little frightening at times, although I kinda dug it, telling this story with mature themes, yet there are plenty of scenes that kids are going to get a laugh at. Also worth noting, the film surprisingly has a lot to say about social commentary, alluding to its timely real world themes in its fictional animal city.
What I actually found to be the film’s strength is its two main protagonists of Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, displaying their character traits and flaws, but yet gives us a reasoning to their flaws and dreams, and even give us emotional conflict that works especially well, and provides us a connection to these wonderful and likeable characters.
‘Zootopia’ is what ‘Chicken Little’ should have been, a fun entertaining story with emotion and heart, while also giving us plenty to love towards these characters through perfect characterization, with some great laugh out loud moments, even more than that awesome Sloth trailer they used to promote this film.
‘Zootopia’ is a good family film to check out these school holidays. It’s a moo-ing good time (Sorry, I just had too).