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Review: Zootropolis – “An essential watch”


It’s no surprise to see some hard-hitting or poignant message lining today’s animated movies, but Disney’s Zootropolis might just be the smartest, most innovative, and subtexturally rich to date. Big Hero 6 might’ve taught us about grief and loss, and Frozen subversively addressed sexuality, but the Mouse House’s latest conveys equally as important issues regarding prejudice.

So, after such proclamation in the above, there’s obviously a need to explain what makes this so appealing and, without tiptoeing, brilliant. Set in an anthropomorphised world where animals – both predators and prey – have come together to live in harmony with familiar, everyday jobs; the city of Zootropolis is a bustling, evolving, and convincingly organic place to be, which is conveyed excellently through Disney’s ever-developing animation studio.

Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is new to the police force. The only problem is that rabbits don’t tend to join up, let alone excel at the profession, and is left to the more suitably evolved types, shall we say. In short, she’s not taken seriously but is determined to prove everyone wrong, which, through her childhood flashbacks near the start, sets up intriguing ground about pigeon-holing certain animals for particular professions. The idea of slotting into society and experiencing ridicule for attempting to banish negative stereotypes is frowned upon by the majority who inhabit this world.

After Judy comes across a sly con artist fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), the pair inadvertently become embroiled in a dangerous sleuthing case that’s more akin to a crime noir than anything frivolously aimed at children. And that’s because, in truth, this film isn’t really aimed at kids at all. Sure, there are colourful and amusing characters and gorgeously vibrant environments, but the story’s complexity and important subtext will go over the heads of any pre-teen. But that’s not to say they won’t have a heckuva fun time with it.

zootropolis flash

What directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore do so well is blend a genre expectation of wit and humour (which there’s plenty of) but take a gamble by injecting some politically charged content into the heart of the story. Surprisingly, we’re presented with a narrative that tackles xenophobia and racism, with a message that, on the face of it, is widely accessible without becoming insulting to adults.

You’ll exit with a feeling that you’ve just watched a movie with a smart and meaningful message. You’ll retain the joy of the light-hearted side of its script as well, which offers a number of genuinely stand-out moments of hilarity that easily go toe-to-toe with the greatest Pixar efforts, not to mention there’s some amazingly memorable faces, such as Flash (the sloth). And it’s this concoction of mystery/thriller, with razor sharp humour, and starkly relevant themes that affirms Zootropolis as one of the cleverest, most important animated films in recent memory.

What’s more, I’ve not even touched upon the voice acting yet, which is superbly cast. It’s easy to spot when actors don’t correlate with the animated character they’re portraying, but here each voice fits nicely and is effective enough to elevate the quality of the film even higher.

If you dismiss Disney’s latest as just another one for the kiddies, then you, as a grown-up, are doing yourself a huge disservice. Zootropolis tackles burning issues, both socially and politically ones. I’d even go as far to say that this is an essential watch because, frankly, you’ll walk away with more satisfaction and fulfilment than a dozen of the biggest, most recent blockbusters put together.


Zootropolis is in UK cinemas now.

Words: Mike Williams


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