Zootopia is already set to be 2016’s best animated feature – a unique, hilarious romp with something to say.
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From the opening scene, animated flick Zootopia is more inquisitive and unique than anything the Ice Age or Minions crew could possibly have concocted. Situated in a world of anthropomorphic mammals, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) strives to fulfil her dream of moving from carrot farming town Bunnyburrow to the big smoke. Despite the criticism from family and foes, Hopps becomes the first bunny police-officer in Zootopia’s history. Forced to become a meter maid by police chief Bogo (Idris Elba), she slowly watches her dream swirling down the plughole. However, after catching con artist Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) in the act, she discovers a trail leading to the whereabouts of 14 missing predatory animals.
Zootopia is one of very few animated films to appeal to all creatures great and small. Making for the perfect family outing, its mix of adult themes and kid-friendly entertainment is nothing short of bewildering. On a base level, the movie is an exhilarating thrill-ride likely to keep kids engrossed and entertained. Directors Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush have extensive experience in animation and comedic hijinks between them. Fulfilling the premise, their visual style provides an awe-inspiring mix of CG-animated vistas and quirky character designs. Zootopia itself is a jaw-dropping environment, divided into luscious urban jungle and polar environments pertinent to the story.
The story itself embodies everything we love about detective dramas and the cop-criminal dynamic. Hopps, our empathetic, sweet lead character, resembles the good guy stuck in a bad situation in an even worse neighbourhood. Nick, on the other hand, is the yin to her yang – a criminal type on the verge of changing his ways and committing to his new counterpart. Their dynamic, along with the missing-persons case itself, will appeal to fans of everything from film noir to TV’s more addictive cop-dramas.
Underneath the fuzzy allure and invigorating central story-line, Zootopia effectively handles its strong-willed liberal agenda. Its discussion of class, racism, and sexism, though heavy-handed at points, is essential in describing our ever-changing world to younger generations. Certain character types shine a light on common prejudices that refuse to go away, with Hopps representing a female mistreated by her male counterparts, and Nick, undermined by other creeds, is a symbol of oppression – picked on by characters wanting to return the status quo.
Despite the politically fuelled narrative and themes, the humour and enthusiasm makes Zootopia a rare worthwhile non-Pixar animated feature. Zootopia combines everything animation has to offer – thrills for the kids and a relevant understanding of the world for teenagers and adults. Eclipsing the March trend of lacklustre releases, this animated adventure hits all the heartstrings, and gives you something to think about.
Zootopia is available in Australian cinemas from March 17th
Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures