Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Critical Quick Review - Zootopia

Film: Zootopia
Year: 2016
Starring: Voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba
Directed by: Byron Howard & Rich Moore

Quick Plot: Ginnifer Goodwin plays the voice of young bunny, Judy Hopps. Judy is fearless, determined, and filled with a strong sense of justice. She dreams of becoming a police officer despite the fears of her parents and the fact that no rabbit has ever become an officer. Despite all this, she succeeds in becoming an officer in the famed city of Zootopia. Zootopia is a massive, environment spanning city where all animals live together in harmony despite the differences of the past where predators hunted prey. Judy is in for a rude awakening though when she finds out that not only is she looked down upon by her fellow officers, but is also quickly taken advantage of by con-artist fox, Nick Wilde, played by Jason Bateman. Nothing will deter Judy from achieving her dreams though, even if she has to put up with discrimination and Nick's antics to do it.


What Works: The voice acting - Most of the voice work is done by Goodwin and Bateman and both are phenomenal. Goodwin is effervescent, delightful, and upbeat without being sickeningly cheerful. Meanwhile, Bateman is just the right mix of charming, sly, and smarmy. Again, considering most of the voice work is done between these two, it's vitally important that they engage the audience; which they do.


The comedy - Zootopia, like most modern Disney films, is fun for kids and often hysterical for adults. There are a number of references from animal biology to Breaking Bad for adults to catch. It's not as consistently comical as say, some Pixar films, but it's still good for more than a few laughs.


The animation -  This should probably come as no surprise, but the computer animation on this film is spectacular. The faces of the characters are marvelously expressive and the fine details on the fur are exquisite.  One of the trailers for the film was noteworthy for showing sloths working at the DMV. The big punchline of the scene is reliant upon the facial expression of one of the characters; if not for how incredible the animation is, this joke wouldn't have landed so well.


The message - Zootopia is a film that's largely about discrimination. I'll avoid going into detail so as to prevent spoiling anything, but the predator prey relationship and the history of it is at play throughout the film. Given the racial climate in the United States in 2016, it's an incredibly timely message for people to have presented to them.


What Doesn't Work: The message - Despite it being a timely message, it is a little ham-fisted; that is to say that the writers tend to hit you over the head with it too much.


The plot - It's predictable. I figured out who the villain was pretty easily into the film, despite the film trying to surprise with it. Additionally there's a scene, part way through the film in which the characters reach a conclusion about the situation they're in that doesn't seem nearly as informed a judgment as they should be capable of.


Is It Worth Your Time: Yes. Whether you're teenager, adult with kids, or adult without kids, Zootopia is a great amount of fun. Also, if you happen to be a Shakira fan, or ardent fan of sloths, you're in for an extra special treat. Go enjoy it!


Critical Score: 8 out of 10

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