Suzanne Buchholz, Reporter
On the surface, Zootopia, Disney’s latest animated adventure, looks innocent enough. The posters and merchandise feature cute anthropomorphic animals living in a thriving metropolis, which doesn’t scream dark and dramatic. But underneath is a film with enough complexity and emotional moments to keep viewers engaged up until the credits start to roll.
The movie focuses on Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a determined and strong-willed bunny whose goal in life is to become a police officer. After years of hard work, she manages to make it onto the police force and is sent from her small farming town to the vast city of Zootopia. Once she arrives, she realizes her dreams are far from being achieved as she’s constantly underestimated by her much larger cohorts.
As a rash of missing mammals breaks out in Zootopia, Judy sees it as her opportunity to show her worth to the police force. But when she’s given only 48 hours to solve the case, she enlists the help of Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a cynical fox who also happens to be a con artist. As the two set aside their differences and work together to track down the animals, they end up uncovering an even bigger conspiracy within Zootopia that’s putting the entire city in danger.
Early on in the movie, it’s easy to spot some of the more predictable plot elements – the fox and the bunny become unlikely friends, everyone in Zootopia learns a lesson that even the smallest of creatures can achieve big things and so on. True, these elements are present, but they’re delivered with so many surprising plot twists that such overused tropes actually feel fresh and well executed. While these twists can’t be explained without revealing major spoilers, there were several moments in the movie that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats, trying to anticipate what will happen next.
Zootopia is full of action in the form of epic chase scenes and face-offs against foes (some of which are very surprising), but mixed in with these scenes are several more emotional moments that will tug at viewers’ heartstrings. Flashbacks from Nick and Judy’s childhoods in which they both face discrimination for being who they are, as well as their current struggles to find acceptance, might leave more sensitive viewers with tears in their eyes and a hope in their hearts that everything will turn out well for the heroes.
The movie also contains some clever references that’ll most likely sail over younger viewers’ heads, but will bring older members of the audience a good chuckle. About halfway through the movie, the audience is introduced to Mr. Big (Maurice LaMarche), a crime boss who bears more than a passing resemblance to Vito Corleone of The Godfather movies. Later into the film is a small reference to Breaking Bad that leaves viewers who get the joke cracking up.
One problem with Zootopia is the pacing of the third act of the movie. While the problems and plot twists of the movie were resolved in a satisfactory way by the end of the film, it felt like there were too many twists crammed into the final act. They all proved to be necessary to the plot, but it would’ve had more of an impact and been less confusing had the film introduced some of these twists a little earlier in the film, or made it a little longer to compensate. This is overall a minor complaint, but can be bothersome to those who prefer more time for a resolution.
The music for the movie was also on the disappointing side. The score, composed by Michael Giacchino, felt like standard Disney fare. While it did the job of setting the tone for certain scenes, it didn’t sound like anything special, either. One exception was the song Try Everything by Shakira which, despite sounding like a typical pop anthem, was catchy and rounded out the film nicely.
Despite a few minor issues, Zootopia lived up to its hype and is likely to become a Disney classic for several years.
I give it HHHHI
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