Friday, March 4, 2016

Zootopia Review: A Charming, Creative and Complex Animalistic Adventure

Walt Disney Pictures is no stranger to the concept of talking animals. The film studio has featured several movies, particular animated, that have taken the concept of anthropomorphic animals and turned into something worthwhile to see. Yet I do not believe the studio has taken this idea to the scale that is seen in the newest animated feature: Zootopia. Slated as the 55th animated film from Disney, Zootopia takes the animal world idea and mixes it with a multitude of genres; like adventure and even the buddy cop film genre. These concepts together sounded like a movie worth seeing; plus Disney has recently had great momentum in their animated department. Yet is Zootopia the top of the food chain or this animated feature too wild to enjoy?

Zootopia follows the story of Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwiin): a optimistic bunny who is bent on becoming Zootopia's first Rabbit Police Officer. However, once getting to Zootopia, Judy living her dream is easier said then done; but opportunity presents itself to Judy when she takes up a missing animal case. In order to solve the mystery Judy enlists the help of the con-artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman); and together this unlikely duo discovers a plot that shakes the very foundation of Zootopia.

When first glancing the plot behind Zootopia, I thought that this story was going to be fairly straightforward; and as it turns out-it was. The movie uses tropes seen in animated and family films a like; such as the protagonist proving everyone wrong and two unlikely characters becoming friends. To be fair the film does an exceptional job at uses these trends, but the use of familiar plot point does narrow the movie's storytelling. Yet as the story progresses into its final act, that is where Zootopia defines itself. What looked to be just another adventurous story turned out to be a captivating tale with complex themes like how society perceives individuals. Much to my surprise the story does not shy away from the idea of social issues and the it handles these themes in a grey matter that does not take away from Zootopia's more family friendly ideas. Along with its the movie's dynamic story structure was the creative ideas that made up the world of Zootopia. Concepts such as the city's foundation and the animals' evolution made for creative directions for the plot that only benefited Zootopia's overall presentation.

Zootopia featured a cast of characters that suited the animal kingdom; but where the ensemble's strength lies is in the movie's two leads. Both Judy and Nick were both charismatic protagonists that I could not help but enjoy. However, while both characters made for compelling individuals, I felt that Judy and Nick were at their best when they were together as the duo's contrasts and comparisons gave them chemistry that did justice to the idea of “buddy cops”. Just because Judy and Nick led this factor does not mean the rest of the cast were forgettable; in fact all of the characters (both major or minor) stood out in some manner. Characters such as Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), Officer Benjamin Clawhauser (Nick Torrence), Mr.Big (Maurice LaMarche), Flash (Raymond S. Peri) and the rest of the supporting cast may had their share of cliches, but all of these animals found ways to stand out give Zootopia a sense of color.

It came to no surprise that Zootopia featured stellar animation. In the case of this film, I found that Zootopia used the multitude of colors that normally would clash; and yet the animation blended together to give the film both a animalistic and grounded look. Along with the movie's festive animation was its colorful sense of humor. From crazy moments to subtle jokes, the movie featured a variety of comedy that had me smiling throughout the whole cinematic experience. The score by Michael Giacchino was good, but I cannot it was the composer's best work. The music behind Zootopia definitely fit the world of the film and had some good themes to it, but I just felt the overall soundtrack was lacking in impact. Though, I must admit, the pop song “Try Everything” by Shakira was catchy and managed to work in the world of Zootopia.

I was hoping that Zootopia would be good, but this animated feature exceeded my expectations. While factors like the story and characters were grounded in general movie tropes, the film uses these trends to the best of their abilities; and still manages to be charming, creative and even complex. While this animated film may not be Disney's most defining installment, Zootopia is still a dynamic feature that is quite fitting for both families and moviegoers.

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