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Zootropolis (or Zootopia, whatever) – Movie Review

23 March, 2016 — by Matt Owen0

Zootopia is an impressive movie. It looks gorgeous, with fluidly smooth CGI visuals and eye-popping action. The attention paid to not only the script, but also the characterisation of the animals is incredible. Every raised Gazelle eyebrow is a treat. That’s not the most impressive thing in the mammal-filled anthropomorphic metropolis though. What really sticks out is the number of operational levels it works on.


Plot-wise, it’s fun, clever stuff. A young, idealistic rabbit called Judy Hopps (voiced by the pitch-perfect Ginnifer Goodwin) is out to make it as the first rabbit cop in the big city. Judy finds herself as the only one willing to take on a missing-animal case, which involves a savage Otter launching an attack on a Jaguar with organised crime ties (and yes, that’s as amusing in the movie as it is on paper).

And here’s where it gets clever. Judy knows that it’ll be tough, not just because she’s a rabbit chasing after bank-robbing tigers, but because no rabbit has ever done this before. She’s up against prejudice. And it’s not the kind you usually find in children’s films either, where cultural problems can usually be solved when everyone realises it’s just important to be yourself. This is much closer to the bone. Foxes are all sneaky. Rabbits are all timid. And the animals in charge know they can control people if they can make sure that the majority group of animals is constantly wary of the minority ones. In less subtle hands this would be preachy overkill, but here it’s handled with a wry, deft touch so that the whole thing never comes across as too weighty (the odd dapperly-attired Hippo not withstanding).


Societal civics aside, there’s also a rollicking good adventure here, with enough twists and complexity to keep even the adults in the audience guessing. On the one hand it’s a simple caper with lots of scenes of animals leaping about and wise-cracking, on the other it’s a twisty-turny noir tale that will keep you interested throughout. It’s also worth noting that Disney hasn’t done a talking animal movie in a long time, so it’s a pleasant return to form, with excellent performances by a loquacious Idris Elba (as Judy’s water-buffalo boss) and Jason Bateman, whose upbeat intonation has him fit far more comfortably into the role of clever fox than George Clooney ever managed. Of course, the Teen Wolf Too star does have form in this area.

Ultimately IT IS FOR KIDS, so while there’s plenty of underlying political nuance, it does have a happy ending, but it’s one that’s worth sticking around for. There are a few duff moments (mainly the parody sequences), but it’s top notch stuff for families over the long Easter weekend. 4/5

Check out the rest of the latest cinema releases in our new film reviews section, including the superior Pixar sequel Finding Dory.

Zootropolis (Zootopia)

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