REVIEW: Disney’s Win Streak Continues With The Fantastic ‘Zootopia’

Since John Lasseter took over Walt Disney Animation Studio, the company has continuously put out good material. “The Princess and the Frog,” “Tangled” and “Wreck it Ralph” were all well crafted features and “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6” were downright great. I’m very happy to report that “Zootopia” may be a film that tops them all.

In the movie, Zootopia is actually a major metropolis populated by all sorts of mammals. The film follows Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a bunny who becomes the first of her kind to join the Zootopia Police Department but is immediately given parking meter duty. She gets a big break, though, when she manages to work her way onto a missing persons case.

In doing so, she teams up with a Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a cynical con-artist who has a few clues as to what happened.

“Zootopia” hits the ground running and much of the movie takes place at a quick, exciting clip. Even during the first act, the film is able to keep things moving. By no means does this make the film feel rushed, though. While the movie is fast paced to make for an engaging adventure, the film never overlooks character development or story set-ups.

Similar to how “Big Hero 6” played out like a superhero origin story, “Zootopia” captures the feel of the buddy cop genre and has a lot of fun with it to create a solid family picture. Additionally, there is a legitimate mystery as to what exactly is going on. Of course there are some traditional story beats here and there that are predictable, but the crime mystery can keep someone guessing.

Another strength “Zootopia” has is its dedication to having a message about inequality and being topical without being overwhelming. There’s never a time where it feels like the story is being sacrificed for a message, instead, it’s a story that is complimented by an important theme.

What won me over the most in “Zootopia” was undoubtedly the comedy. The writing for this animated picture is superb with plenty of humor added from start to finish. The comedy provided is stretched out over a rather broad range, from on point movie and TV references, to plenty of witty and clever lines.

Not to be overlooked are the great characters, specifically the two leads. As previously stated, “Zootopia” follows a buddy cop scenario and the dynamic between Hopps and Wilde make it work. Hopps is the classic by-the-books character where as Wilde is the loose cannon and their back and forth make for an effective screen duo.

Like many of the other recent Disney features, the voice acting is also well done. Both Goodwin and Bateman make Hopps and Wilde passionate, compelling characters.

The film has some strengths in its supporting characters, too. The chief of the ZPD is great and perfectly portrayed by Idris Elba and while voice talent Maurice LaMarche doesn’t have much screen time, he makes the most of it playing a hilarious crime boss.

Also similar to recent Disney pictures, the animation is fantastic. The vibrant colors and large scale of the world the animators created was gorgeous, but what really caught my attention was how much detail was put into simple things like facial expressions and mannerisms.

It’s hard to find many flaws in “Zootopia” since it does so many things right. There is a musical number taking place during the credits which didn’t feel necessary, but that’s a very minor complaint. “Zootopia” is a fun adventure with memorable characters, a lot of laughs and it has something to say about race without hammering the audience. 5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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