Disney have been riding pretty high in the last few years, with their most recent animated classics like ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, ‘Frozen’ & ‘Big Hero 6’ really living up to that name. It’s a rare occasion that I go into a film without having seen any footage and especially when it’s an animated film but that was the case for ‘Zootropolis’, or ‘Zootopia’ for readers outside the UK. Or ‘Zoomania’ for Germany or ‘Crazy Animal City’ in China! Were all these different names really necessary?
Anyway, the film starts by introducing our main character, Judy Hopps, an ambitious little bunny who wants to change the world. I wasn’t too keen on Hopps as the main character, I thought she was a little like ‘Joy’ from ‘Inside Out’ in that she was a bit dull and boring compared to other characters featured. As well as this I thought the narrative felt a little rushed at first, this wasn’t a problem as the film progressed but at the start I felt there was little development happening. It also kind of bugged me that ‘Zootropolis’ only featured mammals, I don’t really see the reason for this and thought that this decision limited the creativity of the film slightly. I’d have loved to have seen some crocs or sharks in here too. I was aware that ‘Zootropolis’ had a message before I watched it but as the opening scenes went by I was finding everything a little preachy. Where was the fun and emotion of other Disney movies? However, as the film goes on this doesn’t matter too much as the message the film puts across is done very well and it’s an incredibly important one. It will be good for kids to hear this message at such and early age but it may well be the parents who need to hear it most! I will say that the message is definitely the focus here and it takes precedent over the fun, emotion, comedy and even the characters. The strength of the message allows for this but I’m just not sure that kids will take to this the same way they have to ‘Frozen’ or ‘Big Hero 6’.
Whilst the message is definitely the centre of this film there is of course comedy included. The film references popular culture and film history in ways that only the adults will get. Some of this element seemed a little unoriginal but like everything else in the film it’s done so well that this doesn’t matter. Disney very much pokes fun at itself through some scenes in ‘Zootropolis’ which I really liked and these were some of the funniest moments in the film. As well as this there were some wonderfully original comedic scenes included which got big laughs which really were very well done. So don’t worry there is plenty of comedy included, what I felt maybe lacked slightly was the emotional core that so many other Disney movies absolutely nail. There are emotional elements to this film with one flashback scene being particularly effective I just wish that this aspect could have been explored or developed slightly more. One thing that the film does nail though is it’s voice performances. There are loads of famous names attached to the movie, more so than I think I’ve ever seen before. The like of Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Bonnie Hunt and Shakira all have smaller roles and their presence is good. My favourite performances came from the more central characters of ‘Nick’ (Jason Bateman) & ‘Chief Bogo’ (Idris Elba). Both actors are perfect for their roles and really embody their animated animals really enhancing the film. J.K. Simmons also stars as ‘Major Lionheart,’ he has a slightly smaller role but is just as effective.
So whilst the comedy, fun and emotion very much take a back seat for the message ‘Zootropolis’ is telling that’s okay because this message is such a vital one that needs to be heard. It’s certainly a clever film as it makes you think you’ve got the lesson and then switches it up in an instant and then everything it has laid down before that point makes perfect sense and the message couldn’t be clearer. This message combined with the voice performances, Disney having a laugh at their own expense and some great original comedy means that ‘Zootropolis’ is another roaring success for Disney. I genuinely just wonder if kids will get on board with this one as it’s very sophisticated in it’s message.
Rating – 8.5/10
Question: Which is your favourite Disney Animated Classic?
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