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Zootopia - The Riles Review

Updated on April 1, 2016

A popular concept nowadays has become the idea of the non-existence of humans, leading to the huge leaps in evolution by animals. Okay, it’s only two movies, and they’re both animated, but that’s a lot in the space of two years. Just think about Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. Would they still have been so noticeably similar had there been a wider gap in their releases? Probably, but whatever. Zootopia follows the no-humans narrative, and it does so remarkably.

Zootopia is about young Judy Hopps, A small town bunny with big dreams to fight crime as a cop on the streets of Zootopia. With the odds stacked against her, being the first and only bunny in the force, Judy uncovers a mystery that may run deeper than she ever could have imagined.

"But if we're wearing pants, where else is our tail gonna go?"
"But if we're wearing pants, where else is our tail gonna go?" | Source

So the film is an amalgamation of every brilliant crime movie ever made. It’s got nods to everything, from 48 Hours to the Godfather The plot itself follows a hardboiled crime thriller narrative, which makes it interesting and twisty all the way, but quite charming as well. The plot really sells the strong message underneath it all, meaning the setting, characters and story all weave together perfectly for a film that youngsters and adults can appreciate. And if you’re antsy for a film that sends the right subliminal signals to your kids, this is it. The subtext is tackling a contemporary and relevant issue, without getting too heavy-handed too often. It does sometimes wring the towel a little much, but I suppose that’s the price you pay when you make a children’s movie.

Within the plot is some quality comedy as well. You could say that some of the jokes are working against the message of the movie, like the sloths working at the DMV. However I felt that was more of a social commentary on the DMV, than on whomever the sloths are meant to be characterising. But I understand where that particular joke is interpreted differently, as well as maybe two others.

However all of the comedy in the movie is hilarious, with a few scenes in particular being some of the funniest in an animated movie ever. But because these scenes were so strong and so few, some of the movie feels like it lags behind. If only it had the comedic consistency of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, this would be a perfect movie.

Cheetahs eating cheetos isn't cannibalism, but it still isn't good.
Cheetahs eating cheetos isn't cannibalism, but it still isn't good. | Source

Although lack of comedy aside, there’s enough genuine heart and strong performances from all the characters. Ginnifer Goodwin is Judy Hopps, and she makes the character really full of life. From the doubt she has struggling to prove herself as a cop to the sheer wonder and joy of exploring Zootopia, she does it all and she does it all beautifully. Her reluctant sidekick(a universally recognised tool in every buddy cop movie), the fox Nick Wilde is played by Jason Bateman, who for the first ten minutes of his role actually felt a little disconnected. It just seemed like he was phoning it in. But on the eleventh minute, he seemed to snap into gear, and he was perfectly timed with his wit and emotion.

Your cast of supporting characters are all brilliant too. Not only are they all excellently performed, but they are all varied types of creatures, and it means that absolutely everyone can relate to someone in this movie, which is really important for a children’s movie. Not to mention that the movie is absolutely gorgeous. Zootopia is divided into districts, representing different climates, like there’s TundraTown for one. They all add a variety of colour to the film and make it a beautiful place. All of the creatures are wonderfully envisioned and it all makes for a film that looks better than real life.

Wrapping it up...

For a long time, my favourite animated movie of all time was a tie between Wreck-It Ralph and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.The former had an incredible world and aesthetic, while the latter had an excellent cast of characters. Well that love affair has become even more complicated because now it’s a three-way with Zootopia having both a beautiful world and an excellent cast of characters, if just a little shy of animated perfection.



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