FlixChatter Review: Zootopia (2016)

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Ever since Pixar’s been making movies, I always thought that their stories are superior compared to Disney in that they appeal to adults as well as children. Well, Disney’s clearly been improving year after year. Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, Frozen, they all have pretty mature, thought-provoking themes with teachable moments for people of all ages. This time with Zootopia, its themes of overcoming prejudices feels as timely as ever, whilst still being an enjoyable ride from start to finish.

It starts out typical enough for a Disney movie. A smart and ambitious rabbit named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) dreams of becoming a police officer despite the fact that no bunnies ever did. Even her own parents didn’t initially believe she’s got what it takes and encourage her to follow her family tradition and be a carrot farmer in rural Bunnyburrow. Thankfully, Judy’s resolute enough to defy them and against all odds she does become a police officer. She’s an instantly likable character and right away I was invested in her journey.

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The story pretty much begins on the first day Judy’s as an officer in Zootopia, a city filled with anthropomorphic animals. Though she’s relegated to parking duty by Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), somehow she ends up solving a crime. That leads to yet another mission to rescue a missing the husband of a female otter who’s been pleading with the police force to help her. Judy’s not only defied the odds that a rabbit can be a competent officer, but she’s proven to be a valuable asset to the force with her resourcefulness.

I love that Zootopia is NOT an animated musical that occasionally burst into songs. It even takes a little zing at Disney itself when Chief Bogo said to Judy ‘Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.’ Ha! The plot is more of an action mystery thriller that is as clever and quick-witted as the movie’s protagonist. The team of writers (at least seven of them credited on IMDb!) keep playing with my expectations throughout, cleverly weaving the themes of widely-held stereotypes and discrimination without taking away the fun of an animated adventure. Just when I thought the story is going one way, it turns out to be another. I love being surprised when watching movies, and this movie does that time and again, and I was left in awe every time.

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The strength of Zootopia also lies in the chemistry of the two leads, Judy and the sly fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). Disney’s no stranger to putting together unlikely pairings and this latest one is as delightful as ever. They end up finding similarities in regards to defying stereotypes of their kind, and the developing bond between them is fun to watch. Some of the funny scenes in the trailer, i.e. the one with the Sloth, is still hilarious in the movie, but I think there are even more memorable scenes than that one.

There are interesting characters we meet throughout their journey, I especially love the scene with Mr. Big (Maurice LaMarche) and his introduction is a hoot! Elba’s voice is always a highlight in any movie and he’s memorable here too as Chief Bogo. Jenny Slate‘s Bellwether and Alan Tudyk‘s Duke Weaselton round up the excellent voice cast. Despite not having a big musical number, it does have a fun song Try Everything featuring Shakira, who also has a cameo as popstar Gazelle.

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Just what I expect from Disney with its $150mil budget, the cinematography is absolutely spectacular. The five boroughs of Zootopia are beautifully rendered, and each has a fitting name that describes its own unique characteristics: Savanna Central, Sahara Square, Tundratown, Little Rodentia and Rainforest District. The chase through all the different boroughs are a ton of fun that made me wish I had seen it on the big screen!

Kudos to the trio of directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush for creating such a fun, enjoyable ride of a movie that’s also smart AND has a big heart. This is another winner from Disney that I don’t mind watching again and again.

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Have you seen ‘Zootopia’? Well, what did you think?
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33 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Zootopia (2016)

  1. This might be one of the few animated movies that I may check out, with your high rating and of course great reviews from other critics, I might give it a watch.

    It’s interesting that recently Disney has been producing high quality animated products and not depend too much on Pixar.

    1. I know you’re not into animation but this one is really good Ted! Yeah I think Disney’s matched Pixar in terms of story now, it’s funny that Pixar’s latest is a sequel whilst this one is an original story.

  2. It was a fun movie. The sloths are still my favourite but you’re right, plenty of other memorable scenes. Choosing Jason Bateman was inspired. He really had a vocal swagger.

    1. The sloth scene is still very funny but I think the fact that it was in the trailer kind of took the edge off. I love the scenes w/ Mr. Big, clearly inspired by the Godfather! Yeah, Jason Bateman is a great voice talent.

  3. Great film with a message worth telling. It doesn’t go in the direction you think which is why I liked it. That and the two central characters are great.

    1. Hi Ben! Yes that’s exactly the reasons why I love this movie. It’s like an action thriller but done in the fun, animated way. One of the best stories for an animated movie IMHO.

  4. Brittani

    I really enjoyed this film. I liked that the only trailer I saw of this was the sloth scene. I had no idea what the film was about when my husband and I took our son so we were very surprised with how deep and important the plot was.

    1. Glad to hear Brittani! Yeah I was the same way, glad to see a deeper story in Disney films. The theme of stereotype and prejudice is always timely, but especially now.

  5. I only wish we had seen more of the different boroughs – it was a tease just seeing them briefly. I think there’s more story in Zootopia.

    1. Glad to hear Keith! It’s really one of the best and most meaningful Disney animated stories I think. I love the detective/suspense aspect but yet it’s never too serious that it spoils the fun.

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    1. Hi Mark! Yes I was surprised how much I loved this one too, but the story is really clever. Hope you are well too man, I haven’t seen you on the blogosphere in a while.

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