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Review: Zootopia

Zootopia
03.01.2016
9 10

 

PLOT:In a world where all mammals live harmoniously together, the city of Zootopia is the scene of a rash of disappearances, all predators. It's up to rookie cop Judy Hopps and her hesitant pseudo-partner Nick Wilde to figure out who's behind the kidnappings. 

REVIEW: ZOOTOPIA couldn't be coming out at a more perfect time. Fresh off the national conversation about diversity at the Oscars while a rich demagogue looks to grab the Republican nomination by using fear and blatantly prejudiced ideas, here comes just the animated movie we need to put a spotlight on the folly of prejudice and the positives inherent in embracing other cultures/species/genders/sexes, etc. Plenty of animated movies are about the importance of community and the ignorance of judging a book by its cover, but few have done it in so clever and accessible a way as ZOOTOPIA. And, wonderfully, the film does so without being preachy; the lesson is a part of its story, so you can't miss it or ignore it.

But delivering a genuinely heartfelt message isn't alone what makes ZOOTOPIA such a splendid picture. It satisfies every requirement of a good animated movie: It looks absolutely great, it has lead characters everyone will love, the voice casting is spot-on and it creates a world you'll want to revisit again and again. I'm hoping they make, like, four more ZOOTOPIA movies, because I really can't wait to delve even deeper into the city's many neighborhoods. When it was over, I wanted to rewind it and watch it again.

And it could have been so easy to make a lazier version of this. The movie's set in a vast metropolis populated by talking animals, and personally my first instinct is to wonder if there's any blood left in the talking animal subgenre. A rabbit trading barbs with a fox? What is this, the 80s? But ZOOTOPIA eschews easy jokes and lame puns in favor of making its characters actual characters as opposed to schticky, one-note bores who spout pop culture references. Similarly, its story isn't just a clothesline on which to hang a series of feeble comedy bits meant to appeal to the easily-amused; it sets up a compelling mystery that holds our attention and allows the characters to operate logically and intelligently. In fact, there are moments when I thought ZOOTOPIA might have outsmarted itself by focusing too much on its central mystery, which might turn off the kiddies who actually are only entertained by song-and-dance numbers and fart jokes. But, too bad; there are plenty of those movies out there already.  

Taking place in a world where animals big and small have set aside their differences and decided to live in harmony, ZOOTOPIA focuses on rabbit Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), who leaves her country bumpkin lifestyle to pursue her dream of being a police officer, and despite he parents' fear of the big city and the constant refrain of "you're just a bunny" (she's the first such animal to be in the department), her perseverance pays off, landing her in an otherwise tough squad of elephants, wolves and water buffalo. Relegated to dishing out parking tickets by her stern commander (Idris Elba), Hopps eventually stumbles upon a clue that could solve the department's biggest case: the disappearance of a dozen predatory animals from the city. Judy enlists the help of a scheming fox named Nick (Jason Bateman) to help her after she catches him in the midst of several dishonest ventures; he'll be a guide of sorts while she navigates the city's frequently rough terrain.

Not unlike the plots of noir classics like CHINATOWN and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, it's eventually revealed there's a much larger conspiracy at play than previously suspected, and the deeper Judy and Nick go, the more corruption and danger they encounter. There's also a ticking clock to beat, as Judy has only been given 48 hours to solve the case or she'll be fired. In their travels, Judy and Nick - initially at odds - become loyal friends, but even their solid friendship encounters rough patches when they find their prejudices aren't entirely diffused. Hence much of the second half of the film is devoted to teaching them - and us - a thing or two about the dangers of presuming you know someone just because of their background or - let's just say it - race.

 

The movie certainly gives you plenty of food for thought, but it also simply delightful to look at: Zootopia itself is a marvel. Separated into sections like Tundratown and the Rain Forest District, directors Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush, along with their animators, haven't just created one visually-lush world but several, and the movie wisely allows us many chances to simply gaze at their lovely creations. Many times I wanted to pause the movie so I could take in every last detail. There are a handful of chase sequences that are pure cinema, including a hilarious one in Little Rodentia, in which tiny mice scamper about while the comparatively gigantic Judy attempts to arrest a fleeing suspect, and a somewhat scary one among the tree branches of the Rain Forest District. I saw the film in 2D and it looked fantastic, and I can only assume it's terrific in 3D.

Goodwin and Bateman could not be more perfectly cast as the idealistic young bunny and the cynical fox, respectively. I found myself thoroughly rooting for these two, and a tender moment between them toward the end brought a smile to my face that was 100% sincere. I demand to know what they get up to next. The rest of the cast is just as good, with Elba, J.K. Simmons, Alan Tudyk and Jenny Slate all just right for their parts. (Elba is a real stand-out, especially when he gets to flex his comedic muscles.) Everything else, from Michael Giacchino's lively and entertaining score to the intricate sound design, is tops. Front to back and all around, ZOOTOPIA is a massive achievement.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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5:55PM on 03/03/2016

Spot-on Review

Just saw it and loved it too! It has everything an animation film needs and the timing of it's release couldn't be better. It surprised me how deep it is with some serious messages, yet it's fun and positive. It really get's the balance to be great entertainment for adults and kids alike.
Just saw it and loved it too! It has everything an animation film needs and the timing of it's release couldn't be better. It surprised me how deep it is with some serious messages, yet it's fun and positive. It really get's the balance to be great entertainment for adults and kids alike.
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12:09AM on 03/03/2016
The racism and social stigma issues tackled in this movie is well thought out and smartly written, but what really hooked me is how the movie is structured as a noir-ish detective story. It reminds me a lot of the Spanish/French comic book Blacksad, which also portrays a world of anthropomorphic animals dealing with real world problems.
The racism and social stigma issues tackled in this movie is well thought out and smartly written, but what really hooked me is how the movie is structured as a noir-ish detective story. It reminds me a lot of the Spanish/French comic book Blacksad, which also portrays a world of anthropomorphic animals dealing with real world problems.
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1:26PM on 03/02/2016

Why Kick Me off Eric

I guess the truth hurt huh Eric. But kicking me off the site? I didn't cuss like the post before me. I just called you out for putting your politics into a review. Sorry you got so butt hurt you had to delete my post and revoke my password. Way to be the bigger man. Don't forget your group hug. I said nothing racist, homophobic, or hateful. But if your going to put politics into your post don't be surprised when someone critiques your choice of words.
I guess the truth hurt huh Eric. But kicking me off the site? I didn't cuss like the post before me. I just called you out for putting your politics into a review. Sorry you got so butt hurt you had to delete my post and revoke my password. Way to be the bigger man. Don't forget your group hug. I said nothing racist, homophobic, or hateful. But if your going to put politics into your post don't be surprised when someone critiques your choice of words.
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+1
1:24AM on 03/02/2016
Guess I'll be seeing this this weekend as well as London. Yes, I know, London is probably terrible, but I enjoyed the first one and could stand to see a mindless action flick. But I digress. I enjoyed the trailers and clips I've seen, but I didn't expect it to be THIS good. A run for animation of the year? I haven't seen an animated film in a while, but this seems well worth watching.
Guess I'll be seeing this this weekend as well as London. Yes, I know, London is probably terrible, but I enjoyed the first one and could stand to see a mindless action flick. But I digress. I enjoyed the trailers and clips I've seen, but I didn't expect it to be THIS good. A run for animation of the year? I haven't seen an animated film in a while, but this seems well worth watching.
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7:55PM on 03/01/2016

Nice!

Really been looking forward to this. When I went to see The Force Awakens this movie got the biggest reaction during the trailers. I think it's going to do great. I think I'm going to take my nieces and nephew to see it!
Really been looking forward to this. When I went to see The Force Awakens this movie got the biggest reaction during the trailers. I think it's going to do great. I think I'm going to take my nieces and nephew to see it!
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6:02PM on 03/01/2016
Enjoyed the review as always except for your ignorant comments about Donald Trump. I'm not trying to start something here but If you truly believe his candidacy is only and entirely based around race then you haven't been paying attention. There is so much more to him than that (although I will be the first on to point out the unfortunate racial elements). Furthermore it's highly prejudiced for someone to make that statement, implying that is all the millions of Trump supporters are just all
Enjoyed the review as always except for your ignorant comments about Donald Trump. I'm not trying to start something here but If you truly believe his candidacy is only and entirely based around race then you haven't been paying attention. There is so much more to him than that (although I will be the first on to point out the unfortunate racial elements). Furthermore it's highly prejudiced for someone to make that statement, implying that is all the millions of Trump supporters are just all racists.

Aside from that great review and wow I'm surprised to hear this is that good.
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7:54PM on 03/01/2016
Most Trump supporters are racist. Face it. If they follow his views and support them they fall in that line. If not racist then simply ignorant. It's not a matter of maybe or maybe not. The man villainized entire races of people on top of refusing to condemn the leader of the KKK and being a known sexist. Trump supporters and the simply put ignorant.
Most Trump supporters are racist. Face it. If they follow his views and support them they fall in that line. If not racist then simply ignorant. It's not a matter of maybe or maybe not. The man villainized entire races of people on top of refusing to condemn the leader of the KKK and being a known sexist. Trump supporters and the simply put ignorant.
10:38PM on 03/01/2016
Once again there is a lot more to his candidacy than simply racial politics. Personally I don't think he's condemned any races outright while running for President. There are policies that he has espoused I don't agree with but I don't see any racism inherent in them.

Also pretty sure he's condemned the leader of the KKK. Just not as forcefully as some would have liked him to.
Once again there is a lot more to his candidacy than simply racial politics. Personally I don't think he's condemned any races outright while running for President. There are policies that he has espoused I don't agree with but I don't see any racism inherent in them.

Also pretty sure he's condemned the leader of the KKK. Just not as forcefully as some would have liked him to.
5:59PM on 03/01/2016
It's a massive achievement, but still couldn't grab the 10.
It's a massive achievement, but still couldn't grab the 10.
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4:34PM on 03/01/2016

Since I am older than 18, I have no interest in cartoons anymore

Haven't liked a single [link] animated movie in like 15 years. Shrek 1 was the last animated movie that I could watch all the way through before turning it off.
Haven't liked a single [link] animated movie in like 15 years. Shrek 1 was the last animated movie that I could watch all the way through before turning it off.
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4:52PM on 03/01/2016
I'm sorry about your lack of a soul.
I'm sorry about your lack of a soul.
9:17PM on 03/01/2016
If you didn't enjoy Inside Out, then you have no soul.
If you didn't enjoy Inside Out, then you have no soul.
1:16AM on 03/02/2016
This is one of the strangest comments I have seen. Being animated doesn't mean a film is lacking of enjoyment for adults. Animation is simply a format for which a film tells it's story. All it means is that, instead of being filmed in real life, people drew and drafted the film. That doesn't mean anything about the story or characters. How can you not have liked a single Pixar film in 15 years?
This is one of the strangest comments I have seen. Being animated doesn't mean a film is lacking of enjoyment for adults. Animation is simply a format for which a film tells it's story. All it means is that, instead of being filmed in real life, people drew and drafted the film. That doesn't mean anything about the story or characters. How can you not have liked a single Pixar film in 15 years?
2:22AM on 03/02/2016
Mechakacho hates almost everything so this isn't surprising.
Mechakacho hates almost everything so this isn't surprising.
3:26AM on 03/02/2016
COOL GUY ALERT!
COOL GUY ALERT!
8:41PM on 03/02/2016
Yeah I used to be like you. I go to porn sites and write on the comments, "Porn are for sinners, man. I don't even watch it."
Yeah I used to be like you. I go to porn sites and write on the comments, "Porn are for sinners, man. I don't even watch it."
3:45PM on 03/01/2016
Eric, maybe it's time for you to see if the Huffington Post or Salon needs a movie critic. Nobody wants this political shit in a review of a Disney movie. Jesus!
Eric, maybe it's time for you to see if the Huffington Post or Salon needs a movie critic. Nobody wants this political shit in a review of a Disney movie. Jesus!
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4:17PM on 03/01/2016
Maybe you should find a more classless site to meet your classless personality.
Maybe you should find a more classless site to meet your classless personality.
4:51PM on 03/01/2016
The movie is literally about discrimination and rising above expectations for your species. That's the plot. If you don't see parallels in race today, you're blind and stupid.
The movie is literally about discrimination and rising above expectations for your species. That's the plot. If you don't see parallels in race today, you're blind and stupid.
3:22PM on 03/01/2016

That's quite the rave review, Eric

For a moment there, I thought you were being sarcastic.

The previews for this flick didn't knock me out but, based on your review, I'll definitely give this one a shot. Disney's been on a roll lately with their animated movies, and I'm glad to see it.
For a moment there, I thought you were being sarcastic.

The previews for this flick didn't knock me out but, based on your review, I'll definitely give this one a shot. Disney's been on a roll lately with their animated movies, and I'm glad to see it.
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1:34PM on 03/01/2016
Will definitely be checking this out this weekend alongside London Has Fallen.
Will definitely be checking this out this weekend alongside London Has Fallen.
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+0
1:16PM on 03/01/2016
ill be there this weekend. love the previews
ill be there this weekend. love the previews
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1:12PM on 03/01/2016
Awesome. Looks fantastic, can't wait. Great to hear that it's as well written as I'd hoped.
Awesome. Looks fantastic, can't wait. Great to hear that it's as well written as I'd hoped.
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1:08PM on 03/01/2016
Great review, Eric. I'm excited to see this!

Everyone else. Chill out. This review wasn't even preachy. You want to complain about liberal soap boxes, see Leo's acceptance speech.
Great review, Eric. I'm excited to see this!

Everyone else. Chill out. This review wasn't even preachy. You want to complain about liberal soap boxes, see Leo's acceptance speech.
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+3
12:50PM on 03/01/2016

Good review

Lighten up man, nothing wrong with this review.
Lighten up man, nothing wrong with this review.
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12:27PM on 03/01/2016
Just review the fucking movie. If I want to hear a douchebag on a political fucking rant I'll turn on MSNBC.
Just review the fucking movie. If I want to hear a douchebag on a political fucking rant I'll turn on MSNBC.
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2:58PM on 03/01/2016
?
?
3:23PM on 03/01/2016
Lighten up, Francis.
Lighten up, Francis.
7:04PM on 03/01/2016
One sentence in the review takes a jab at Trump, while he reinforces what the theme of the movie is. Get over yourself.
One sentence in the review takes a jab at Trump, while he reinforces what the theme of the movie is. Get over yourself.
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