Review: Zootopia

Zootopia (2016)

One of the most gorgeously animated pieces of adventure fun in ages.

Disney has been on a bit of a roll lately, returning to their roots with the princess-centric goliath Frozen and the superhero inspired Big Hero 6. With ZOOTOPIA, they hark back to the grand tradition of anthropomorphic animals, taking a leaf out of their own history of films like the fox-led Robin Hood. The simple tale of Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a rabbit that wants to be the first bunny cop in the big city of Zootopia, and her unlikely friendship with small-time con artist and fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), is the kind of buddy movie that lends itself to perpetual motion, and there are a plethora of spectacular and hilarious action sequences – especially the one in the tiny mouse section of town – to keep that momentum happening. Jared Bush and Phil Johnston’s script is to be praised not just for presenting one of the first non-princess female leads in a number of years, but for its pleasingly unsubtle  and timely themes around racial profiling and prejudice (of mammals towards predators) within the ranks of the police and city officials. There’s more than a tiny current of noir to the bigger story as well, and the combination of animal protagonists and old-world charm is reminiscent of Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido superb graphic novel series, Blacksad (which is not surprisingly given Guarnido was once a Disney animator). Meanwhile, the animation is outstanding, the 3D renderings of the characters creating the same wide-eyed enthusiasm that marked classic Disney films, and the busy cityscapes and locations are meticulous in their details. This is Disney at its finest, combining brilliant visual storytelling, and a top-notch voice cast, with a positive message of tolerance and self-realisation.

2016 | US | Dir: Byron Howard, Rich Moore | Writers: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston  | Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate and Shakira | Distributor: Disney | Running time: 108 minutes | Rating:★★★★½