Zootropolis FILM REVIEW

Zootropolis (aka Zootopia outside Europe)

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stars 4

Release: 25 March 2016
From: Walt Disney Studios
Certificate: PG
Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Starring the voices of: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate

Given how many years it takes to conceive, design and make an animated movie, it’s rather astonishing to consider that, somehow, anti-racism crusader Zootropolis has hit US cinemas during this month of all months. Whether Donald Trump and his braying, protestor-punching cronies go to see a bunch of cartoon animals and come away feeling warmer towards their fellow man has yet to be seen – we’re not placing bets here – but there’s definitely food for thought in Zootropolis’s depiction of predators co-existing peacefully with prey until someone decides to stir things up. In a way, this film pretty much shows us Trump’s entire campaign plan; what a bizarre coincidence.

Either way it’s a clever premise, and besides the film’s admirable moral message of “we should all get along” (sheep, tigers, giraffes, timber wolves – we’re all the same, guys!) Zootropolis also boasts a generous hit rate of gags that genuinely make you laugh out loud, as well as world-building so good it gives Inside Out a run for its money.

The story follows bunny Judy Hops (Once Upon A Time’s Ginnifer Goodwin) as she joins the police force and tries to make a difference as its first rabbit officer, teaming up with a sneaky fox, Nicholas Wilde (Jason Bateman), to figure out what happened to a mild-mannered otter who disappeared without a trace. So it’s a police procedural, yes, but set among the many realms of the film’s titular city: everything from icy wastes complete with polar bears to a wee little mouse town, home of one of the film’s best setpieces. The animals in this teeming metropolis are perfectly cast: lemmings work for a bank, beavers are construction workers and – in one of the funniest scenes hitting screens this year – sloths work at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Despite the obvious idiocy of a city containing desert tundra, an arctic expanse and a rainforest, it works just as well as something like Monstropolis in Monsters, Inc. That’s because the beauty isn’t in the logic, of course, but in the dream.

In short, Zootropolis is intricately thought-out, gloriously realised and utterly charming: there’s more charisma in Judy’s swivelling bunny ears than in some animated films’ entire casts. There are only two things that leave you feeling vaguely unsettled: where are the humans in this world? We don’t see any apes at all. Do they exist? Or did evolution just forget about us? And secondly… once you’ve seen Idris Elba as a buffalo, you’ll never be able to picture him as a potential James Bond ever again. It’s like he’s always been a buffalo, and we just never knew…

Review by Jayne Nelson


 

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