Review by Gordon Justesen
Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, J.K. Simmons
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
Features: See Review
Length: 108 Minutes
Release Date: June 7, 2016
“Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a silly little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true...so LET IT GO.”
Who could’ve possibly thought that a single movie could be funny, extremely heartfelt, contain a consistently intriguing plot as well as serve as a thoughtful metaphor on race relations...and be a Disney (non-Pixar) animated feature all at once? Zootopia manages to be all those things and so much more. I have to get right down to business and announce that this is quite simply one of the best animated films in the history of the medium.
I don’t think anyone expected the riveting subtext of the movie, especially within an animated movie about a universe of talking animals. But Disney had a dynamic trick up their sleeve with this one. What makes it even better is that it’s not the least bit preachy. The movie hits the exact perfect note in allowing the story to reflect matters in our society that are all too real, unfortunately.
The world of the titular place is inhabited by mammals that have evolved beyond their primitive environment. They fully resemble humans in how they walk, dress, go to work everyday, etc. They even spend a great deal of their time fiddling on smart phone apps like all humans do these days. And just like the human world, mammals have to deal with the pain of prejudice as predators and prey try to coexist in a society.
Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bunny full of pep and strong determination. Ever since she was a child, she’s dreamed of becoming a cop. Even though her mammal class is that of prey, and there’s never been a bunny cop in the history of Zootopia, she’s got her eyes set on being the first...even if it means being forced to serve as a parking meter maid.
But she soon catches wind of a mystery. It involves various predator mammals disappearing and somehow being reverted to their primitive nature, resulting in the attacking of other mammals. Assisting her on the case, against his will, is con artist fox Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman) who knows one of the missing mammals and is helping only so Judy won’t turn him in for his multiple “hustles”.
Another genuine surprise is that this animated feature also happens to be one of the best buddy cop movies in a long time, illustrating that (along with The Nice Guys) 2016 has beautifully revamped the subgenre. Judy and Nick have a pitch perfect back and forth with one another and the mystery they’ve stumbled onto is a rather engrossing one. It goes without saying that is one of the best examples of an animated film that kids and adults will love simultaneously.
In addition to the endless qualities it already contains, Zootopia represents another milestone for Disney in terms of animation. There is not a single frame in this movie that isn’t visually sumptuous or remarkable. The colors and overall detail in the character designs and, especially, in the design of Zootopia itself. I dare say that this is the standard to which all future Disney animated features will need to live up to.
Zootopia is a film excelling on so many multiple levels, and not lagging on any level. Beautifully animated, uproariously funny, flawless storytelling and a wise use of social commentary that can greatly benefit young kids to learn about, this represents the absolute best that the movies have to offer. This is one animated film that will truly be forever cherished!
I’ve clearly glossed over just how beautiful the animation is here, but on Blu-ray...well, be prepared to have your socks knocked off! Animated features always shine on the Blu-ray format, but this Disney release ushers in a new visual standard like the movie itself. There is not a single moment in this presentation where I wasn’t awestruck by the amazing detail of this picture. The colors are an absolute knockout from beginning to end, making this one of the best animated Blu-ray releases of all time!
Added to the visual glory is a most lively and engaging DTS 7.1 mix! There’s a great deal of action in the film, thus providing some outstanding moments of superb surround sound. Dialogue delivery is at its most perfect, and balances out tremendously well with the other aural proceedings. And the music playback, featuring a most bouncy and catchy tune by Shakira, is also most phenomenal!
This Disney Blu-ray contains a neat slew of extras, starting with “Zoology”, a roundtable discussion hosted by Ginnifer Goodwin that explores the characters and environment of the movie. Next up is “Research”, which explores the areas the filmmakers traveled to in order to find inspiration for the characters of the movie. “The Origin of an Animal Tale” details the various versions of the script that were developed before the final draft was completed, while “Scoretopia” focuses on the film's score. Rounding out the package are “Forensic Files”, a montage of easter eggs in the movie, a music video by Shakira, as well as Deleted Character breakdowns and up to 20 minutes of Deleted Scenes.
Groundbreaking in both it’s knockout animation and amazing storytelling, Zootopia is one animated feature that deserves to be seen by people of all ages. It’s wonderfully entertaining and tremendously thought provoking. It’s also a milestone in Blu-ray animated presentations!