Welcome to Zootopia, already one of the best movies of 2016.
Intense from the very beginning, Zootopia’s pacing flawlessly draws the audience into the life and dreams of the protagonist, Judy. It’s funny, with many laugh out loud moments (and it wasn’t just me, just ask the theatre I was sitting in) but is dark enough in certain scenes to make you wonder if it’s even really a kid’s movie. Touching on conspiracy, fear-mongering, classism, and the role of media in discrimination, Zootopia acts as a social commentary on relevant problems in our world today. A movie just for kids? Not at all.
With a wild array of characters, Disney fervently tackles different personalities, and creates a unique world that you see primarily in subtle world building. The main story takes place in the actual city, providing a more relatable look at the world, but our characters’ forays into the tundra, desert, and jungle provide interesting settings and actions scenes. The animation is amazing, with water droplets realistically flowing along the outside of a glass window. Judy’s ears droop when she’s upset, and her nose twitches with frustration. The detailed-oriented animation makes Zootopia a visual spectacular, as nothing is overlooked.
The movie’s humor is entirely unforced. They make it look easy. The actions, not the dialogue, contribute to most of the comedy in the movie. It’s touching, sweet, empowering, and sad at parts. From animal puns to ironic roles for different animals, the movie mocks human life (like at the DMV) with personified animals while still keeping the animal traits in sight.
Conspiracy theories galore with this story of cops and evil masterminds. Even if you can predict what happens next, how it happens will always leave you on the edge of your seat. Keeping certain objects in plain sight but not mentioning them leaves the audience anticipating the eventual fallout, while every character comes back to play a larger role.
A largely character driven plot, this movie doesn’t rely on coincidence or deus ex machina to allow its protagonists to win. Instead, Officer Judy Hopps lives up to her training, stumps all who doubt her, and works her way to victory. She’s proud, but loving, willful but willing to ask for help. She admits her mistakes, but doesn’t doubt herself. She faces discrimination as an animal of prey (which stands as a really great analogy to sexism), but pushes past all adversity. While her role as an animal of prey (and woman) is central of much of the plot and character development, it does not overwhelm her main role as a protagonist and smart, hard-working police officer.
The character development is natural given the circumstances, and the roles Disney has these characters fulfill not only play into stereotypes, they play against them as well. The entire movie is about “being anything,” and the line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ groups is completely blurred. All can do evil, and all can be good, no matter biology or societal assumption.
Much of the movie can be related to social problems of today, including racism, sexism, and classism. Discrimination is an overarching theme in movie, and fear-mongering media journalism is realistically portrayed. Stereotypes, the actual reality, and their effects of people are accurate represented many times, whether through humor or a dark backstory.
An empowering story about being brave, righteous, and more than anyone expects of you, Zootopia brings animals together in both touching and scary situations. It is a story of friendship, redemption, prejudice, facing one’s fears, proving oneself, and never giving up. It’s funny, heartbreaking, and uplifting. It’s a movie that will make you want to attain your dreams. Honestly, it’s probably one of the best five movies Disney’s ever made.
(It’s like Psycho-Pass, but done well.)