Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Movie Review: Zootropolis

This weekend was the weekend that Social Media seemed to go (more) insane over a Comic Book Movie and whether it was right/wrong to like/dislike it. On one level the response to Batman v Superman has been fascinating, and on another it's been eye-wateringly stupid. I look forward now to months of pointless, circular arguments raging about it, lit only by the buring of Strawmen, illuminating nothing and no-one. Thankfully, I haven't seen it, so you are spared my thoughts on it for now. Instead, we took the kids (including the teenager, who preferred this to the chance to see BvS, go figure!) to see Disney's latest offering, Zootropolis

Disney have been on a bit of a roll recently with their animation studios with the likes of Wreck-it Ralph and Big Hero 6 effortlessly moving away from the more traditional Princess-Focused stuff to compete more directly with the output of Dreamworks and, course, Pixar. Kids animation is a busy area these days, as the barrage of shoddy looking adverts ahead of our screening this weekend can attest, but the experience (and budget) that Disney can bring to bear on these films, as well as the freedom to delay or rework a picture, brings a layer of quality to these productions that shines out of the screen. 

It's this quality that makes Zootropolis work - because one of it's biggest successes is managing to do a number of things that often trip movies up extremely well. First of all, lets look at it's central character. Judy Hopps is a bunny who wants to be a cop in the big city where all the animals live together. There has never been a bunny cop, but Judy wants to follow her dreams, because she is upbeat, and enthusiastic and nice. So the first success of the film is that Judy works as a character without ever being annoying, or cloying. She's likeable, as she's supposed to be, and that anchors the film solidly in her journey. 

Secondly, lets look at that journey. Whilst "follow your dreams" and "racism is bad" are both exemplary messages, they're also often clumsily handled and preachy in these sorts of films. One of the great things about Big Hero 6 was it's treatment of a story that revolved around greif and loss, and here Zootropolis managed to put predjudice front and centre of it's story in an interesting and complex way that kids can still follow and understand. It's not as simple as Judy being victim or predjudice, but in her own way she's also an unthinking perpetrator of it, and one of the movies central scenes puts that front and centre. 

On top of all of that, Zootropolis is just extremely well made. Even on as simple a level as it's design, everyone on screen bursts with character and the backgrounds are exquisitely dense with information, gags and colour. The script and voice performances are excellent, the story is extremely coherent, and feeds back key plot points surprisingly cleanly, which is not always a given in this market. It really is just a lovely film - properly funny and heartfelt and warm. You don't need to be a kid to get something out of Zootropolis, and I'd recommend it to anyone.