Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Film Review No. 4 Zootropolis (PG)

Strong Points:
Very funny
Lots of references...
Brilliant animation
Amazing attention to detail
Strong social messages hidden in the fabric
Played on the stereotypes
Great for the times
Lots of scope for sequels

Weak Points:
Could be a bit heavy-handed for children
... some won't be gotten by everyone
Would've been nice to see all the different sectors
Some characters could've been focussed on more

Some spoilers ahead:
In-depth Review:
In a year of animated, anthropomorphic animals, Disney has a go. And it works. Well. We follow Judy Hopps, a cute ("excuse me only rabbits can say cute to other rabbits" - Hopps) little bunny with big dreams to be something she is told she can't. With parents that mean well but should probably stop talking (it's okay to have dreams if you don't believe in them is one of their tips) and the rest of the world up against her, does she have what it takes? Yes, but a little help is needed.

The films primary message is about accepting everyone and not 'judging a book by its cover' and it succeeds not only in this but also telling a heart warming and intriguing if a bit dark tale (though not as gory as The Good Dinosaur mind) of a missing otter and a drug that turns animals savage. Using animals instead of humans allowed the writers to stretch the stereotypes further and break them down using an elephant that forgets, a sloth that speeds, a nice fox etc. It was great to feel a change in my feelings for the characters as going in I did have some ideas about what the characters would be and having that belief challenged was nice.

The graphics, animation and setting are all amazing and incredibly detailed and inventive from little cuts in the paper when it is torn from a sheaf to Little Rodentia having it's own little tubes for the gerbils to scamper about. The voice work, as well, is great, fast-paced and natural and each character had plenty of development and time to make you laugh. However, some could have had even more (the mayor lion) but I guess that just sets it up for a sequel, which this franchise has plenty of scope to do.

Ah references, how we love you. Usually hidden away for eagle-eyed viewers, this time the references were right at the forefront. From the head of the ZPD stating that 'life isn't a cartoony musical... Let it go', to a weasel not only selling animal themed Disney movies (Pig Hero 6) but exclaiming 'it's Wiselton not Weaslton ' and my personal favourite: the rams that are growing the blue Night Howler drug are called Jesse and Walter (Breaking Bad). It's one of the few films where I've laughed out loud in the cinema and 'on this, the day of my daughter's wedding' (another reference).

The films end quarter, while a bit heavy-handed for some viewers, I really enjoyed as not only did it show how the press can change everyone's perceptions (a side comment from Hopps leads to a paranoid mess) but it also promoted strong opinions on tolerance and learning from the past. For example, the fox bully that Hopps knew as a kid is now a well-respected baker and her family is partnered with him (something that they wouldn't have done in the first half of the film due to him being a fox).

Conclusion: this film manages to entertain all with colourful visuals, fast action and funny one liners for the kids and a strong message about acceptance for the older audience. In an industry where the box office hits are more about the action than the heart, this film does it right. And for a company which has been branded as slow to catch up with the times in issues of race and gender, this is definitely a step in the right direction. And who doesn't love lemmings dressed up in suits walking in a line to get popsicles?

Rating: 90%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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