Is there anything that hasn’t already been said about Disney’s “Zootopia”? The latest in their recent line of successful films, Zootopia has become the highest grossing film of 2016 so far, and with good reason. Zootopia attempts to explore some rather heavy subjects, and while it’s story may seem simplistic at face-value, the film is far more complex than you might think. Approaching strong and heavy ideas is one thing, but does the film actually execute them well? In short; Yes. And while Zootopia isn’t perfect, it’s still a well crafted addition to the Disney’s animated library, and one of the best films that 2016 has to offer thus far. Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look.
Disney making a film about anthropomorphized Animals is nothing new, With films like 1973’s Robin Hood and 2005’s Chicken Little being the studio’s most notable examples. While those two films had rather varying degrees of success to say the least, Zootopia takes the concept and does wonders with it. The amount of sheer creativity and attention to detail that’s given to this world is staggering, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney’s working on a “Zootopia” themed park right now. The primary location of the film, Zootopia, is made up of several different areas and locations that each have their own distinct look. One minute we’re in the snow covered tundratown, and the next we’re in the dark and damp Rainforest district. All of these locations have nice detail and atmosphere, but I wish we could’ve spent a bit more time in a few of them. The film has mostly good pacing, but the third act feels a tad rushed. This is really just a nitpick, but it’s only a flaw worth mentioning because the first two acts flow almost perfectly, While the climax in particular feels like it needed just a little more kick.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, the animation featured is some of Disney’s best Computer animation to date. While I wouldn’t call it’s visual style game-changing, it’s still a confidently crafted piece of art. Animators deserve far more credit than they currently get, because they’re just as (if not more) talented actors as the celebrities voicing the characters. The character animation on the two leads specifically; Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, is wonderfully expressive and really helps convey their emotional story arcs. Speaking of the characters, Judy and Nick play off each other well, and while their relationship is played mostly for laughs near the beginning, the film takes a surprisingly emotional turn about half-way through, and their friendship becomes even more meaningful and interesting as the film goes on. The supporting cast of Zootopia is just as memorable and funny as you’d expect from a Disney animated feature, from the intimidating and sometimes humorous police chief Bogo, to the slightly oblivious yet irresistible officer Clawhauser, each of the major characters leave an impression, and will most likely stick with you after the film.
The only character I was less than thrilled with was the villain. The film’s antagonist isn’t bad, and their plan is actually pretty despicable, but I’d really like to see a big memorable Disney villain again. We haven’t really had one that’s stood out since Princess and The Frog’s Shadow Man. The most interesting thing about Zootopia, by far, is it’s social commentary within the story. The main antagonist in Zootopia is discrimination, an issue that’s extremely relevant today. I don’t generally talk about politics or any real-world issues in my movie reviews, but you’ve all seen the news. The different types of animals in the film could easily represent various races, and though some may find the film’s message against racism less than subtle, It’s nonetheless very powerful, and it’s execution is handled maturely, yet simply enough for all ages to understand and appreciate.
This is possibly Disney’s most topical film they’ve ever produced. the film features topics and themes that range from prejudice, identity, and even racism. Zootopia is yet another fantastic entry in Disney’s recent era of instant classics, and it’s deserving of it’s place as the biggest film of the year so far, both financially and critically. Despite some minor pacing issues, this is one of their best modern films yet, and one of my favourite films of the year thus far.