Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Zootopia - Average Joe Review

So, on April 10, 2016, I went to the theatre to see Zootopia. And this is my review of the movie.

First off, this review is spoiler free. You're welcome.

Zootopia: a magical place "where anybody can be anything". Sounds like a cliché premise for a movie if I've ever heard of a movie about anthropomorphic animals. But you would be wrong if you said that Zootopia is cliché. Themes about prejudice, about gender and race, and an interesting, original plot combine to make Zootopia the best Disney movie I've seen. And yes, that's including Big Hero 6. And yes, that's including Frozen. And yes, that's inc--

Anyways, back to the point. Zootopia is about a spunky rabbit, Judy Hopps. who defies stereotypes by becoming... gasp a cop! This seems to parallel the gender norms and stereotypes associated with certain jobs in the real world, and is apparent (but not shoved down our throats) when the police chief, Chief Bogo (voiced by Idris Elba, who has a great performance) assigns her with a less-than-suitable job, although Judy was valedictorian of her class and worked hard to get where she was at, similar to how some people believe that women shouldn't work in certain professions. Nevertheless, eventually, Judy is assigned a case to find this otter dude (Emmett, I think), and yeah, she does some good stuff and starts being all boss-like... and then she uncovers this [SPOILER HERE] and starts to work against [PREVIOUS SPOILER] until [SPOILER]. Along the way, she meets her friend/enemy/annoying con-artist Nick Wilde, who helps her with solving the case and uncovering the [SPOILER].

Zootopia is mainly divided into districts, each corresponding to a different climate/biome/thing (shut up, this isn't science class), solving the problem of how polar bears and panda bears and bunnies and rodents and foxes and water buffalos all coexist in one city. There was this one shot of the whole city that showed the entirety of these districts, which, in my opinion, was the most cinematic, beautiful shot of the film, really showing off the animation quality of Zootopia. Did I mention how good the animation was? Well, it was really spectacular, and I could see the different types of fur on different mammals... it was kind of mind blowing, especially at the start of the movie.

Zootopia also has a social structure type thing, and although the slogan of the movie was, "Zootopia: where anybody can be anything," that's far from the truth. As with any city claiming to be a utopia (or Zoo-topia in this case huehuehue look at me so funny, even though that pun was in the freaking title), Zootopia is far from it. Crime is relatively common, the aforementioned missing mammal cases were unsolved prior to Judy's involvement, and prejudice is very, very, common, in stark contrast to the opening scene where Judy is in a play illustrating how mammal coexist peacefully, predator or prey. This is what, to me, is the central theme of the movie: prejudice against certain kinds of peop--, animals. In particular, foxes are stereotyped as sly, up-to-no-good thugs, and bunnies are stereotyped to be wimps. This is highlighted in the introductory scene to the police department: there isn't a single non-threatening mammal in sight (except for an overweight jaguar, but y'know, it's still a jaguar). In particular there is this one scene with a fox where the fox isn't actually [SPOILER] but is still beaten up by the prey animals in his Junior Ranger Scout troop because of preconceived notions of prejudice. I saw this as a clear connection to the racism in our society today. In addition, prey are often prejudiced against predators, seeing them as a threat. For example, Mayor Lionheart (excellently voiced by, naturally, JK Simmons) appointed a sheep, Assistant Mayor Bellwether "for the sheep vote," as if the sheep wouldn't vote for him otherwise.

Keep in mind, Zootopia is a Disney movie, and Disney movies are generally for smaller children. Although this movie kind of goes against that formula by introducing more real-world complex scenearios, the humor is still pretty solid. There were Godfather references, likeable characters, and overall more mature humor than that of, say, Kung Fu Panda or Madagascar, which I enjoyed. One thing I will add is that during moments of intense action, or plot development, the humor definitely took a backseat, and these lulls might've bored out younger audiences.

The plot of Zootopia was solid, with powerful underlying messages and themes throughout, and performances were very well-done. The animation was beautiful, and the characters were relatable and realistic. Character development was well done, especially with Nick as he works more with Judy for the greater good instead of reverting back to his con-artist ways. I give Zootopia a 4.7/5, for although everything was spectacularly well done (expected, what with 3 directors and 8 writers), there were certain lulls in the movie. Great movie, everybody should watch it.