Release: 25th July 2016
Format: Disney.Pixar 3D Blu-Ray / Blu-Ray / DVD and Digital
From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where various animals live and thrive. When Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, she quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law. Determined to prove herself, Judy jumps at the opportunity to solve a mysterious case. Unfortunately, that means working with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a wily fox who makes her job even harder.
It would appear that Uncle Walt is on a bit of a roll. After spending a number of years in the shadow of Woody, Nemo and the employees of Monster’s Inc., the Mouse House has finally broken its losing streak and has entered a promising new era of animation. What started with Tangled, became Wreck-It Ralph, then oh-goodness-please-get-this-song-out-of-my-head Frozen, and finally Big Hero 6. The pattern seemed to be musical princess flick for girls, followed by a pop culture rich kaleidoscope for boys. Zootropilis tries to land somewhere in the middle, and by breaking the pattern temps fate. The result is a mixed bag of cutesy old world Disney charm with a paint-by-numbers plot that proves to be one of the most uninspired and ham-fisted efforts of this new period.
In its infancy, Zootropolis (or Zootopia for all you non-cosmopolitan types) looked to be a very different…animal. The continual tinkering and eggshell treading of the film’s creators means that a once edgy and possibly even melancholic story has ended up being a cautionary tale about race and gender politics, whilst also potentially having the most sexist and ethnically inappropriate stereotypes in a Disney film since Uncle Remus first bounced around the plantation. Women are naggy and manipulative, country folk are backward and unambitious, Italians are represented by a criminal fraternity, Elephants are of course Indian, politicians unreliable, and cops overweight or overly aggressive; even the most idealised of whom subverts the law for her own means on numerous occasions (yes Judy Hops, blackmail IS a crime). Put this aside, however, and what you are left with is a fun, shaggy dog cop story that affords more memorable secondary characters than you can shake a Mickey shaped stick at.
Much like sister studio Pixar did with The Good Dinosaur, Disney seems to have created a film in Zooptropils that is neither exciting enough for kids or engaging enough for Adults. The film’s saving graces come in the small moments between exposition, when the film embraces its silliness and runs headlong into absurdity. Stand out scenes include the yoga Ashram, a visit to the DMV and an iPhone app that should, by rights, be more popular than Pokemon Go. The other winning combination is the film’s voice cast and its rich use of architecture to create humour (Gerbil tubes, et al).
To say that Zootropolis is an inferior product to its recent cousins is like saying a Porsche isn’t as fun to drive as a Ferrari. In the grand scheme of the genre, this is one of the best animated films you’ll see this year, but in comparison to Baymax, Ralph, Elsa and Rapunzel; Nick and Judy just aren’t quite afforded the memorable film they deserve.
Film Grade: C
What appears to be a riches of features on the outside, is a little less so in realisation.
While some useful details can be gleaned from the Roundtables and Deleted Scenes (‘Taming Party’ would have made an outstanding moment), the real grit comes in Deleted Characters and The Origin Of An Animal Tale.
There is a lot to be learnt about Zootropolis and the film it once was, and filmmakers Byron Howard and Rich More seem intent on revisiting that missed voyage as if to somehow excuse the end product.
Ginnifer Goodwin is a welcome tour guide around the special features, but the noticeable absence of, well, everyone else leaves a strange suspicion of detachment from the project.
Special Features Grade: B-
Whether you live in a Topia or a Tropolis, you’ll likely find little reason to ignore this luke warm offering.