Friday, April 8, 2016

Zootopia – Early Thoughts

This movie is wonderful to look at and wonderful to watch go see it!  For those that want a more substantial review please click the link.  Spoilers within.

Right off the bat I have to say that this film is gorgeous!  The backgrounds are detailed and rich.  All the different bio-zones like the tundra and the rainforest are just wonderful with the snow and the rainfall.  The fur on the characters looks amazing, the tiniest moments like Judy’s nose wiggle are great.  I love all the different ways all kinds of mammals are accommodated in the city like the gerbil tubes, and the huge ice cream desserts at the elephant ice cream parlor.

I love that Mr. Big is a rodent and that his reference to the Godfather isn’t just there to reference a classic film, but in fact plays into the plot.  Where his daughter that’s getting married is who Judy saved earlier from being crushed by a giant doughnut while in pursuit of a robber, who also turns out to have a connection to the main plot, and she keeps Judy and Nick from being iced.  Nick and Judy are such a wonderful pair too.  They’re both smart and clever, and they play off one another so well it’s wonderfully entertaining.

I think my favourite thing about this film though is its message about prejudice.  When I saw the initial trailers I thought it was only going to be about Judy’s struggle, but it wasn’t.  It’s there certainly where she gets on the police force by her own merits, but is then restricted to being a meter maid, because they don’t want her to actually do anything.  We will let you in, but don’t go thinking you can actually do what we do.  So of course we see her showing them up by cracking the big case, but then the movie gets better by turning the tables and suddenly it’s the predators that are being mistrusted and put down.  There’s also Nick’s backstory where he reveals he learned to live down to everyone’s expectations of him, because of what he was.  If all anyone was going to think of him was being a sneaky sly fox then that’s all he was going to be.  Also with Judy’s family being farmer’s and Nick saying that his mother had to scrap together the money for him to get a junior scouts uniform, the group his was rejected from, I get the feeling there’s classism going on here as well.   The film has all these great layers for this issue and I think that makes it very accessible.  Younger children can enjoy the crime story and take away the message of trying that Judy gives at the end.  Work to be a good person and follow that golden rule of treat people they way you would like to be treated.  Those of us who are older in the audience can see all the different subtle ways we experience and perpetuate prejudice.  From the way we judge a person for being part of group X to choosing our words very poorly in stressful times.  That allows the film to grow with kids too, because they can come back to this film later and see the more subtle messages too, and appreciate that there is more going on here than a bunny and a fox solving a crime in classic buddy cop fashion.      

That’s not to say the film is perfect though I do have some issues with it and the main one is the character of Gazelle.  A third tier character like this shouldn’t be such a big deal, but she just bugs me.  I guess since they had a popular celebrity doing her voice they felt they had to make her this pop star in Zootopia too. But for me is just seems out of place.  Something about her design feels off to me and the concert dance sequence at the end makes for some very lackluster credits.  Also I don’t like that her up beat pop song is the only one used in the film.  Honestly I just prefer it when Disney makes their own music, it gives the film the sense that it’s separate from our reality and allows it to be more timeless.

In spite of that though I would still highly recommend this film.  It is a beautiful movie with a beautiful message that reaches across all age groups.

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