The modern mammal metropolis of Zootropolis is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when optimistic Officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde, to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootropolis” a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (“Tangled,” “Bolt”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Simpsons”) and co-directed by Jared Bush (“Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero”).


Review


Zootropolis continues the John Lasseter-led Walt Disney renaissance that started back in 2008 with Bolt, bringing the smart writing and detailed computer animation that made Pixar so successful. As much as new Disney is about looking forward however, the creative team still find time to p*y homage to old school Disney too and Zootropolis is no exception. Filling this film with its first fully anthropomorphised characters since Robin Hood.

So a city populated by animals dressed in human clothing forms the basis of an LA-style police procedural involving eager rookie cop bunny Judy Hopps and con artist fox Nick Wilde (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman) in a city where prey and predators now live in perfect harmony. The variety of animal habitats that comprise the districts of this utopia (or Zootopia as this film is called in the US) gives the film a visual richness that impresses and some incredibly inventive set pieces. A foot chase between Judy and a bad guy that ends up in a Legoland-sized town for rodents is a particular highlight.

It's also a set-up that allows the animators and writers to indulge themselves by packing the screen with a plethora of visual gags. Shops called Hooflocker, iPhone style smartphones with a carrot logo instead of an apple with service provided by PB&J instead of AT&T are just a couple of examples. Eagle-eyed viewers with a love of easter eggs will have a field day with this. Disney fans in particular will enjoy the many references to Disney films of the recent past and future. One of the more amusing nods involves the return of actor Alan Tudyk who voiced the Duke of Weselton (continually mispronounced Weasel-ton) in Frozen, and who here voices (wait for it...) a weasel called Duke Weaselton. Throw in references to The Godfather and Breaking Bad to keep adults amused and you have a film that has something for everyone.

You certainly don't get many animated family films that deal with the dangers of racial stereoptyping and how different ethnic groups co-exist within a big city. That the filmmakers manage to do that without it ever being uncomfortably heavy-handed is one of the many skilful aspects of Zootropolis that makes it such an entertaining watch.


Review by Kevin Knapman



Zootropolis (3D) (PG)

1h 48m

Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Starring: Voices: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J K Simmons, Octavia Spencer

UK Release: Friday 25th March 2016
disney.co.uk