Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, USA, 2016) Review

This is a film I really wasn’t expecting so much from considering the heavy-handedness with which problems of discrimination – in the workplace, in general – is really hammered in in the trailer.

And yes, the film is very much aware of its message and becomes at times almost parable-like, but surprisingly I think its done in a genuinely interesting way. The voices are excellent, Ginnifer Goodwin (Judy) and Jason Bateman (Nick, not normally my favourite I’ll be honest) are great, but honestly, I think Idris Elba steals the show, an anthropomorphic Luther parody in and of himself.

One of the major appeals to me is the postmodern aspects of the film, it is, as Barthes would say “a patchwork of quotations” some of which are easy to get – Disney is loving referencing its own films (as always) – but other unexpected ones, such as a fantastically unexpected reference to Breaking Bad (of all things!). IMDB is already having a field day with the references within the film, and it hasn’t even left the cinema, there is no doubt in my mind that this will quickly becomes a cult classic for Disney fans.

The plot is not something new and unique, but that doesn’t matter, on the whole its one of the few Disney films aside from (perhaps) Mulan and The Princess and the Frog that portrays an interesting female character that not only aims to do her best (more than simply getting married) but is also flawed and must fix her mistakes.

Another interesting aspect to the film is the rapid time span, I was expecting the film to linger on Judy’s development, but actually this takes place in a matter of minutes, and again, where there would normally b a natural close to a Disney film – the solving of the case in this aspect, actually becomes a crux for Judy’s political blunder which must then be resolved. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at Disney stepping out of their box a little and embracing a more complex narrative – the downside to this would be that everything is a little rushed due to trying to fit a rather large time span into a 100 minute film, but for my part it is simply refreshing to see Disney do something a little different.

I would whole-heartedly recommend watching this and give it a solid 9/10.


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