Review: Wreck-It Ralph director, Rich Moore, is teaming up with Tangled director, Byron Howard, to vivify a literal urban jungle or animal kingdom in Disney’s vibrant, jive, and uplifting Zootopia.
As hinted in the title—which is a coinage of the word ‘zoo’ and ‘utopia’, Zootopia is a high-tech metropolis where arthropomorphic animals of various kinds—mostly mammals—inhabits in peace. Not only they live in one spirit of kinship, they embrace an idea that ‘everyone can be whatever they want.’
The same idea encourages a young and aspiring rabbit from neighboring burrow, Judy Hopps, (Ginnifer Goodwin) to chase her dream to be the first rabbit cop, which she eventually achieves after graduating at the top of her class. As the newest and, possibly, smallest officer in her rank, she’s deprecated. Her captain, Bogo (Idris Elba) trusts bigger guys for duties to take care of “law & order”; meanwhile, he has a different agenda for Judy, assigning her for parking duty—in which she finally meets a cunning fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman).
When 14 mammals are reported missing from town, Judy finally gets a chance to do a real police work she’s been dreaming about. To accomplish her mission, Judy has to team up with Nick, the con-fox, despite her childhood trauma of foxes. And Zootopia finally shifts from an almost banal zero-to-hero story into a mix-up of adult-friendly whodunit and heart-pounding buddy cop story.
With a team of half dozen people helming the story and concept, Zootopia becomes one of Disney’s boldest by far. Despite the choppy narratives and some trumped-up twists, Zootopia still manages to deliver very warm messages, which get sharpened as the story progress. Surprisingly, some serious issues, from racial stereotype to hilarious satire to law bureaucracy find relevant manifestations which juxtaposes perfectly without over-stuffs the storyline, which is kinda new to Disney.
On the bright side, Zootopia is taking benefits from the beautiful, inventive world-building of Zootopia, including the hyper-modern buildings and gadgets to accommodate various species of animals (that Apple rip-off ftw!) as well as distinctive designs for the sub-districts, i.e., Tundratown, Sahara Square, and the rain-forest.
Zootopia also manages to have dozens of likable characters—from the over-zealous protagonist, Judy to some one-scene characters like Flash the sloth or Marlon Brando-esque Mr. Big, or even, Gazelle the superstar (voiced by Shakira), who also sings the theme song. There’s also a bunch of hilarious moments securing its ‘fun side’, although the biggest moments have already been revealed in the trailer.
The only downside of Zootopia is: it never really digs deeper on its potential. It has all the likable characters, but none of them really becomes an iconic one—like Baymax from Big Hero 6 possibly—not even Judy Hopps, although she really has an almost 99% score of likability. It also has all the funny moments, but when I said the best one is already revealed in the trailer, then what else to expect? Some working one-liner might do, but given all the funny characters, it could’ve been more hilarious.
In a final verdict, Zootopia still manages to have all the inventive world-building, all the likable characters, and all the funny moment, in spite of its choppy narratives. This literal animal kingdom is definitely funny without patronizing; however, it could’ve been funnier.
Animation, Action, Adventure, Comedy Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush Written by: Jared Bush (screenplay), Phil Johnston (screenplay) Voiced by: Idris Elba, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, Shakira Runtime: 108 mins Rated PG