Reviews: Zootopia

Disney\'s Most Relevant Film And A Brilliant Masterpiece

I have to admit. Zootopia didn't strike me as the kind of film that I would think as amazing...at least from the teaser. It came off as more average at first and the fox con-artist Nick Wilde came off as a bit arrogant and patronizing at first. I eventually wanted to see it but it was more because after a while, I saw more trailers and they were much better. They gave more of an idea of what I was in for. Some great comedy, a likable protagonist, Judy Hopps and a well thought out world with working animals living in their society.

So when I finally went and saw the film, it was absolutely nothing like what I thought it would be. The film has a realistic air to it even though it stars anthropomorphic animals. The characters feel believable and I was surprised and even shocked when I saw a scarily accurate portrayal of bullying early into the movie and I don't just mean like a wimpy depiction. It was brutal and there were a few others like the backstory of Nick Wilde as a kid (which I won't spoil) and may I remind you this movie was made by Disney. I was surprised by how intense and disturbing the film could get. I mean don't get me wrong the movie can be funny as hell (like the scene with the sloths at the DMV) as well as emotionally powerful but the mystery was very engaging and I never saw anything coming.

I should point out that I think the animation is incredible. The fur looks very realistic, the characters are all up to scale and the lighting is amazing. It's freaking gorgeous especially on the big screen. The voice cast are all great and all give the dialogue extra personality. The writing is very on point. The dialogue can be really funny at times and when the characters are doing an emotionally powerful scene, it's outstanding. The world as I said earlier is very well thought out. It feels very fleshed out and I give the artists praise for their hard work on their vision.

Nick Wilde became one of my favorite Disney characters next to ones like Belle, Jim Hawkins, The Genie, Timon & Pumbaa and much more. He has a snarky personality but can often be helpful and sweet. He's also very funny and I'm glad he changed throughout the movie. Judy is also great. She has her flaws (like everyone else) but her heart's in the right place and she also becomes better as the film goes on. I could go on but I need to wrap this up.

Overall, this is easily one of my favorite Disney films to come out in a while. Sure, I love a lot of Disney movies but this one struck a cord with me. It has relevant themes that are very important in our time like bigotry and racism and a big part of the film is about how people can be capable of both intentional and unintentional bigotry but people are also capable of change. That we can still be better if we try and I think that's great message for people of all ages. It's a touchy subject but I think they handled it well and I'm glad I watched it.

A very solid film...that leaves me a bit underwhelmed.

Overall, I really like the film. The plot is interesting, there are some fantastic moments, and the message is complex and important. So why do I not come away so shaken?

Let's start with Judy. I don't dislike her at all, and I admire her cleverness and determination, and I love that she is so concerned about equality yet harbors subconscious prejudices. It's just her idealism I don't like. And it's not that they handle this poorly- it's taken apart and put back together like it should be. It's just that I feel this robs her of some actual personality potential. Nick feels like a much more fleshed out character, while Judy is left being the optimist, and that's about it.

I also feel like the villain was underdone. Since it's a plot twist, the truth is revealed late in the movie, and I feel like they lack the amount of evil screen time they should have. Heck, the amount of GOOD screen time for the character is minimal, so I really wish they had gone further with their motivations and actual onscreen villainy, 'cause there's some good stuff there.

The comedy aspects of this film didn't get me that much, either. While it makes sense as a study of stereotyping, the majority of the jokes are "animal acts like you'd expect" or "animal doesn't act like you'd expect", and that stuff is okay for a background gag, perhaps, but they're the comedic focus. The DMV scene has a good comedic basis, but I found the fact that the ENTIRE long gag is shown to be tiresome- a smash cut in the middle to them leaving wouldn't have destroyed the joke and the audience would be fine. The bit with the "naturalist" club is very clever and audacious, though. Credit where it's due.

I don't know, maybe it's my opinions, because it's certainly a good film, and arguably an important one. I just didn't connect to it in the same way as I have with others.

Controversial opinion

I HATED this movie.

- The racism message was WAY too unsubtle, in-your-face, and preachy. Literally every 1 minute a character would make a racist remark, or there would be a racism metaphor. Subtlety is the way to do it. Racism in, say, To Kill A Mockingbird was much more well-handled.

- The jokes were HORRIBLE. Every joke was either a dumb animal pun (Lemming Brothers! Pig Hero 6!) Dumb joke about animal stereotypes (Wow! Wolves howl at the moon! Wow! Sloths are slow!) or lame attempts at irony (The stoner is more intelligent than the elephant! Mr. Big is small! The small fox has a deep macho voice!). The sloth joke was the worst, it was stretched out to THREE MINUTES!

- The constant racism by the main characters made them very unlikeable. Nick constantly calling Judy "carrots" for example.

- "Try Everything" was a TERRIBLE song. Lame, boring, and bland.

- Lots of filler. We didn't need to see Judy put out all those parking tickets, or the whole montage of Zootopia, or the aformentioned sloth joke.

There were a few positives, I liked the basic premise, I liked the animation. Other than that, terrible. 3/10. Sorry if I upset any of you, that's just how I feel.

A hop up from Frozen

Let me start out by saying that Frozen left me so disappointed that I actually saw the leaked version online before watching it in theatres. Both ended up looking superior to Frozen. Well, that's enough harping on Frozen for now, onto the actual review.

This movie is without a doubt a good one, perhaps even a great one. This is the best that I have seen from the new Disney, or at least the best computer-animated film I've seen from them.

The first thing to note is that although it's well-animated, I've seen superior animation. However, what it lacks in flair it makes up for in design. The production design is astounding, and this is best showcased during the train ride to Zootopia. Then there's also character design, the animals are designed to great detail, every furry bit. There's even a 2D aesthetic to some of the characters' design, like the pigs who like much like 3D versions of the pigs from HOTR.

Zootopia has taken cues from Kung Fu Panda. Judy fails at the police exams at first, then after a (short) training sequence, she manages to use her bunny abilities to make up for small size. And then there's her parents unintentionally giving her the answer she needed. However, Judy and the police exams, it isn't as strong as Po mastering kung fu. The training sequence is significantly shorter and it doesn't show her trying to build on her strengths as Shifu did with Po.

Judy Hopps is a very likable protagonist. She's well-written, relatable, idealistic, and never once comes off as obnoxious. Nick Wilde has Jason Bateman's acting to his credit, a sarcastic demeanor with charm and wit to it. The two make a great duo whether they're actually working well together or not. However, after seeing Nick's backstory I'm left wondering whether or not Nick would have made a better protagonist.

The script was constructed quite well and Byron Howard added a balance to Rich Moore. The latter's resume includes very non-Disney stuff.

As good as the movie is, it's not without its shortcomings. Finnick should have been developed more. Even the season 4 finale of Boondocks gives more time for Tiny Lister to shine. The villain is under-developed. We never get a complete sense of who they are. Adding a backstory would have fixed this, perhaps make the villain a Shadow Archetype to Judy? The villain isn't a simple one like Ratcliffe. Zootopia is predictable at times and not without its share of cliches, which do include the Godfather references (these things are as overused as parodying The Matrix). Then there's the themes. Honestly, they would have been stronger if there were at least sentient birds and reptiles.

Not a big thing, but although Michael Giacchino's score is good, I would have gone with Alan Silvestri or Randy Edelman.

While Zootopia definitely has more of that Disney magic than Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, and even Tangled, I still prefer the competition to Disney. Give me Cloudy, Panda, Despicable Me, even Metegol and Mune any day.

This Movie Shocked Me

Wow. I heard about this movie from the internet and friends and family who have small kids, they all loved this movie. I honestly did not think this movie would be good, but I had a free weekend so I decided to go and see it before it left theaters. I loved this movie, this was a darn good movie. Everything was right from the writing, to the plot twist, to the voice acting. I do like the story, even though I have to go with Bogo on some of this. Yes, Judy did a good thing, but she did leave her post. On her second day.

I do love Nick, he's probably my favorite character next to Bellwether. I would talk about Bellwether more, but I don't want to spoil anything. Lets just say she's my favorite character for good and bad reasons. Overall, the movie is worth the watch and you don't have to borrow other people's kids. I recommend this movie, highly recommend it. The only sin I have with this movie is that Gazelle doesn't have more lines. Yes her song plays throughout the movie, but I wanted Shakira to have more of a role in this movie rather than just the voice of reason. I hope she gets more love in the sequel...if there's a sequel. Hopefully, there won't be a sequel.

The problem of Fantastic Racism in Zootopia

First off: I loved this movie! It was funny and beautifully animated. I adored Judy and Nick as characters, and was rooting for them all the way. The plot genuinely had me guessing at one point. Best of all, I admire Disney for daring to tackle a difficult social issue and impart to young kids a message of compassion and co-operation, right when we need it most.

However, while the movie gets across the broad point that Prejudice Is Bad, it stumbles over the finer details of how prejudice works in the real world. As such, I think it fails as a true allegory, and I think that prevents the movie from being an unqualified success.

It's cool that the movie takes a prototypical relationship from Western animal folklore (innocent bunny, deceiving fox) and deconstructs it, as a way of getting us to challenge our preconceptions about people and races, but this approach is not applied consistently throughout the movie. Clawhouser is NOT your stereotypical fast cheetah (and that's the joke of his character), but Flash IS your stereotypical slow sloth (and that's the joke of HIS character). If different species are meant to be allegorical for different races then this inconsistency sends the mixed message that some stereotypes are wrong, but others are true and are accurate fodder for ridicule.

It's also cool that the movie goes out of its way to show that everyone, even our hero, is both the subject AND the perpetrator of harmful prejudices. However, some critics argue that the movie fails to take into account that systemic racism is a HUGE part of the problem in the real world, and I couldn't agree more. Prey animals struggle to be accepted in certain jobs, but they also make up 90% of Zootopia's population; predators are an ethnic minority, but they also hold positions of power. The most insidious thing about racism is how it divides society into haves and have-nots, oppressors and oppressees; in Zootopia, everyone seems both to suffer and to benefit from prejudice equally (until the 'savage' scare happens), which doesn't ring true.

The 'savage' scare is also problematic because it's suggested to have an in-universe justification. Judy's play teaches us that predators used to hunt and kill other animals; this world-building detail carries the unfortunate (and unintentional) implication that some races are genetically predisposed to be violent. At one point the movie implies that the night howler toxin would have a negative effect on any mammal, but this point is never made clear since we never see the toxin used on a herbivore; in any case it doesn't change the fact that Zootopia's predator citizens are more dangerous when on the toxin because they have sharp teeth and strong claws.

Perhaps I'm over thinking this or taking it too seriously! Then again the movie takes itself very seriously when discussing these issues, and rightly so. I'm genuinely interested to hear other people's take on whether Zootopia succeeds as an allegory.

A Film about Prejudice

Let me start off by stating that Zootopia is a good film to let you know my position on the film. It boasts solid acting, a good story, a twist that makes sense upon review and a decent moral. All things people are starting to expect from Disney in the past few years.

What makes this film stronger to me is it's message of prejudice and how vague said prejudices are. With the strength coming from how applicable said vagueness, the prejudice in the film never has a clear definition whether it relates to racism, class, creed, sexism because those things are A) not so easy to cover in real life and B) the cast are all animals with no humans around to show where it relates to us.

With this vagueness the prejudice in the film has been applied in various different ways by many different people to where it needs to be. The basic message is of course that "prejudice is wrong", but with the added bonus of "But don't think learning that means you are free of your own biases".

Judy as much as she shows how she shouldn't be simply judged and profiled, is not free of those flaws herself. She is a flawed character that is still overcoming those issues throughout the film without her ever noticing until the very end. The film also makes clear that while bias may be at work against her, she is a bit too focused on said biases when criticism of her character comes along, such as when Bogo calls her out for abandoning her post and going Cowboy Cop. It shows that prejudice is not so simply defined or that anything around it is easily understood.

I will say go to see the movie if anything about what I say about prejudice has gotten your attention, go and decide for yourself what you think of the movie.

Ultimately I think I will be re-watching this for awhile, it's message is a bit more nuanced than I would have expected for a Disney kid's film, and maybe that was just my own bias at work.

My new favorite movie.

Gosh, what can I say? I loved almost everything about this movie - the animation was spectacular, the soundtrack was great, the story was well written, the humor was excellent, the characters were fleshed out and lovable - I could go on and on.

Although I don't consider myself a furry, I can say with complete honesty that I felt much more emotionally attached to these characters than I did for the cast of Frozen. To be fair, Frozen is a great movie, even though I like to make fun of it. But I think that Zootopia's world - despite being populated by anthro animals - is more realistic. However, it somehow still manages to capture the optimistic Disney spirit.

Bonus points for being pretty dark at times - they actually show cuts and wounds (but no blood oozing out, thank goodness), and even a Jump Scare!

There's only one thing I didn't like - the villain. After this character is revealed to be evil, they don't really do much, just boss around the henchmen. I was really hoping they would fight Nick and Judy hand-to-hand and get a dramatic death scene. I guess it's good that Disney is trying to go for more realistic and less Obviously Evil villains, but come on, Disney! Some of us think Evil Is Cool! I have high hopes for Moana's villain, whoever it may be. If the movie is a musical, he or she better get an epic Villain Song!

Actually, one more thing I disliked. Someone theorized on the WMG page that Duke Weaselton wouldn't turn out to be such a bad guy. But guess what? He turns out to be even worse, by working for the Big Bad! I was really hoping he would make a Heel–Face Turn! I feel like They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character!

Aside from that, I loved the movie. My favorite character was Clawhauser, because he really reminds me of myself.

On a side note. I'm not ashamed to admit that - even though I'm a guy - I squeed a few times while watching (not out loud, though. Too manly for that. :3) But can you blame me, especially with the scene at the beginning where it shows the characters as kids? Kids who don't sing annoying songs about building snowmen?

A Smart, Smart Film

Zootopia feels like a million miles from the simplistic, love conquers all story telling of Disney's last outing, Frozen. It's funny that despite it being a story set in a metropolis of anthropomorphic mammals, when Zootopia talks about living in "real life", it sounds a damn sight more like the real world than any of Disney's more human centred outings.

A lot of that is down to some very sly, witty writing. Zootopia is Fundamentally a story about prejudice, but rather than examining the topics in broader strokes like Pochahontas, Zootopia is more interested in showing the subtleties and commonplace perniciousness of modern racism and sexism. Besides a blatant satire on racial profiling which makes up the main plot, there are lots of quieter references throughout the movie to things like hair touching, using the term "articulate" as a complement, sensationalist journalism, and half-hearted affirmative action hiring. Did I mention this was a kids movie?

I like this move for Disney. As with Inside Out and The Incredibles, the narrative and dialogue seems to be leaning more and more towards the adults watching, whilst devoting the visuals to the kids. There isn't a chance in hell that a five year old is going to understand how a conversation about the word "cute" is being used as a stand in for n-word privileges, but they are going to enjoy the slapstick expressions accompanying the conversation.

All in all it is a very funny, very smartly written thing. It manages to somehow take the classic buddy cop movie, a subgenre that should by now be the stalest, most hackneyed way to examine racial bonding, and somehow disguise it all as something genuinely original and refreshing. As plots go, it is a fairly predictable one that follows some very familiar beats. But the story is followed with two extremely charismatic, loveable characters in an unfamiliar setting and with a far deeper understanding of the issue than a montage set to Ebony and Ivory. This is a must watch.

Zootopia: It Made Me Think

Zootopia is definitely one of the most interesting movies to come out of Disney, but I'll just break it down. (Animation) This movie definitely has the best 3D animation to date. Just the sheer amount of detail on the hair alone is astounding, not to mention the lighting and color always helped make the atmosphere truly astounding. (Music) I'm not someone who cares too much about a film's instrumental score, but I feel that it is greatly above average. Also Shakira's "Try Everything" really fits the movie as a introductory and conclusion song and sounds amazing. (Voice Acting) I can't think of a single character whose voice didn't fit with their character design. I especially liked the more bit parts like Yax, Flash, and Mr. Big. (Setting) Definitely the most interesting and unique setting of the decade thus far. Easily my favorite part of the movie and I was left wanting more. Just the way all the animals interacted and fit into this city made it seem very alive. (Story) A very good story. Equal parts mystery, conspiracy, civil unrest, and buddy-cop. The way Judy and Nick interacted with each other and how they dealt with their own problems and prejudices struck a good chord with me. While the true villain plot twist was a little obvious I still think they made a pretty good villain. Also the twist of what is turning the animals savage was very excellent and one I didn't see coming. (Themes) I'm sure anyone who has heard anything about Zootopia should know that the main theme is about prejudice and more specifically racism. The issue of racism is not a new lesson by any means, but it's not exactly an old lesson either as it still needs to be told. The problem with teaching any lesson, especially in media geared towards children and families, is that you don't want to be too in your face where it takes away from the movie, but you also don't want to make it so subtle where the kids won't pick up on it. Perhaps the fact that there are people who argue both sides should show that the movie did a fairly good job at balancing it. Of course its hard for any single movie, especially one geared towards kids, to represent every type of prejudice such as systemic oppression. So instead they chose to target basic prejudice and used funny animals to make a story that is applicable rather than allegorical. It's a very good start for children, but please don't expect Disney to solve all the world's problems. (Romance) The open ended nature of Judy and Nick's relationship is perhaps one of the best in film. There is never any overt romantic interactions between the two of them, but neither is there anything to deny the possibility. If they aren't romantic it could teach kids that men and women can be friends, but if they are it shows a romantic relationship that isn't common or procreational. While I prefer the more romantic side of the argument, the true beauty of the relationship is it's ambiguity. At the very least, we know they love each other.

My New Favorite Disney Movie

I'll admit upfront to not being the biggest fan of Disney in recent years. The only movie of theirs that really left a big impression on me recently was Wreck-It Ralph back in 2012. So when I first went to see Zootopia, I wasn't expecting too much. I was certainly expecting it to be good, just not great. Certainly not utterly freaking amazing like it actually turned out to be.

First of all, serious props to the animation team. Not only does the city of Zootopia look awesome, but you can tell just how much work went into constructing this place for its animal denizens. They could have easily went the lazy route of making a generic city that just so happened to be populated by animals, as so many other works have done. Instead, they went the extra mile of actually making this world believable and accommodating of it's extremely wide range of lifestyles. It's one of those movies where I constantly want to pause just to look at everything.

But this is only the surface level. In actuality, the city of Zootopia harbors some surprisingly well-written issues on prejudice, probably the most realistic take on these issues I've seen from a kid's movie. The prejudice in Zootopia is presented, much like in our world, as this darker part of society, that no one really wants to talk about, but is always around, just waiting for an excuse to spiral out of control. It's not entirely subtle about it, which is forgivable given the target audience, but it's also not constantly in your face or heavily biased towards making any one side look worse (I'm looking at you, Pocahontas).

This extends to our protagonists as well. Nick Wilde is a victim of this prejudice, having accepted what he's "meant to be" and becoming rather cynical as a result. On the opposite spectrum is Judy Hopps, an idealistic dreamer who fights against what society tells her she can and can't do. At the same time, she herself is influenced by her own prejudice, which is merely hinted at for a while until it suddenly comes out at the worst possible time, making a very believably flawed hero. Needless to say, Nick and Judy's interactions are the best part of the movie, having some of the best chemistry between two characters I've ever seen.

If there's one criticism I do have, it's the villain, and not because of the Disney cliche of the twist villain that's become so prevalent lately. For this genre, a twist villain is not only justified, but pretty much required. My problem is the severe lack of focus this villain gets post-reveal. They really could've done with a more fleshed-out backstory, or at least an epic final chase scene. The gambit Nick and Judy pull to come out on top is brilliant and satisfying, but I would've liked just a little bit more.

Still, that's only a minor blight in what I consider a nearly flawless movie. Definitely a must see for Disney fans, and even for those who aren't, because you might just have the same experience as me.

Awesome!

I went into this movie knowing almost nothing about it, other than the whole furry gimmick. What I got was a really competently made, suspenseful investigation story, with plenty of both humorous and at times surprisingly dark moments. It kept me constantly wondering what will happen next, and it managed to catch me completely off-guard with the reveal of the villain behind the whole ordeal.

Special ovation goes to our two main characters. They are both very smart and cunning, and they constantly utilize clever, underhanded tactics in their endeavors - first at each other, then at their enemies. They both have a fair share of very enjoyable smartass moments, but my personal preference must go to Judy, whose ways of pulling the rug from under Nick were easily one of the funniest moments in the movie.

What is even better is that the main selling point of the movie - anthropomorfic animals - isn't just a gimmick, but instead serves as a crucial foundation for the conflict established in the movie. Let me tell you, this movie has lots of Fantastic Racism moments, and they do end up painting Zootopia as a bit of a Crapsaccharine World. Maybe even more than it was truly necessary (seeing Judy get all this crap at the beginning was really disheartening).

If there are any criticisms that I would have towards the movie, then it would be the following:

- The movie does, unfortunately, have a Third-Act Misunderstanding. What's worse is that it seems to come completely out of a left field; sure, there is some justification for it, but nonetheless it seems to come right out of nowhere, and it's especially jarring considering that right before it happens, everything seems to go perfectly smoothly and without a hitch. When I was watching it in cinema, I was like: Whoa whoa whoa, hold on, what the hell is happening? Why is this happening? You just pulled this conflict out of your ass, movie!

- There is a handful of toilet humor in the movie. I wish they could go without it.

- There is a bit too many moments in the movie where the plot hinges on a character somehow managing to get a hold of some item without us seeing it, just to reveal it afterwards. Many, if not all, of these moments seemed to be completely cheated, with it not really being logically possible for the character to pull that off.

- The fact that the movie still relies sometimes on the they're animals forced into living in a human world, hurr hurr kind of humor. Because of it, the established world comes off as unrealistic sometimes, and raises questions on how can smaller or bigger animals live in it. Unless it's meant to hint even more at the Fantastic Racism...

But despite these issues, the movie is still highly recommendable, and definitely Disney at its finest. But I would advise against bringing small children into it, since there are several genuinely scary scenes in it.
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