June 5, 2016

Blu-Ray Review: ZOOTOPIA

Starring the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk. Directed by Bryon Howard & Rich Moore. (2016, 108 min).

Zootopia is arguably Disney’s best movie since The Lion King, their cleverest since Who Framed Roger Rabbit and their most original since...maybe ever.
A big part of the reason it works so well is because it isn’t a kids’ movie, not in the purest sense anyway. Sure, it’s fast-paced, charming and visually stunning. So was The Croods: initially amusing, but a chore to endure upon repeated viewings (as any parent will attest to). And yeah, the story is engrossing, like most of Disney’s recent output, but Zootopia seems far more ambitious, drawing just as much inspiration from adult action fare like Lethal Weapon as it does tried-and-true animated story tropes, yet it never descends into pure parody. As is par-for-the-course, Zootopia has an underlying message. Lots of them, actually, but whether related to the main story or not, they are subtle, timely and subversive. The city of Zootopia is an ingeniously-rendered microcosm of humanity and the (sometimes ridiculous) prejudices which keep us divided.

But that’s just the story, which is as intriguing as any police procedural you’d care to name. With this film, the devil is in the details. Whether an obscure nod to The Godfather (obscure for kids, anyway), an off-the-cuff pop-culture reference, what we’ve always suspected about the DMV or simply something going on in the background, Zootopia is loaded with more throwaway scenes than we can possibly catch with a single viewing (kind of like the original Airplane!).

"Hasenpfeffer is made of WHAT?!?"

What’s ultimately ironic is the fact that Disney, after purchasing Pixar outright, has actually stepped-up their game with increasingly engaging films, while Pixar itself has fallen more-or-less into a holding pattern with unnecessary sequels and (Inside Out notwithstanding) generic concepts. Like The Lion King in the 90s, Zootopia may end up being a pinnacle of modern Disney animation, featuring the studio at its most creative in decades. Arguably among their all-time best, it’s hard to imagine topping this one any time soon.

  • Featurettes: “Zootopia: The Roundtables”; “The Origin of an Animal Tale” (the best of the bonus features); “Research: A True-Life Adventure”; “ZPD: Forensic Files” (a guide to many of the film’s Easter Eggs (and there’s a ton of ‘em).
  • Deleted Characters
  • Deleted Scenes
  • DVD & Digital Copies
(or a plate of Hasenpfeffer)

No comments: