Walt Disney Animation Studios is at the top of their game these days with yet another first class animated movie like Zootopia, coming right on the heels of possibly the most popular animated movie ever, Frozen in 2013. In 2010 they gave us the equally wonderful Tangled and then in 2014 they changed their game with a wonderful story about a boy and his robot called Big Hero 6. Followers of my blog might recall that I wrote a post in 2014 that predicted that Disney had found their new hit movie making formula. I called it the Frozen Formula. I saw a lot of similarities between Tangled and Frozen and I was simply saying that Disney would most likely continue to use the Frozen Formula in order to continue pumping out hits. I stand corrected. Disney has surprised everyone, especially me, by giving us game changers like Big Hero 6 and now Zootopia.
Their new movie explores a couple of new ideas (at least new to CGI animation) that are game changers in their own right. First, Zootopia is a lesson on equal rights for everyone no matter who or what you are. They cleverly use the differences in animal breeds to give us humans an example on how to see our similarities rather than differences.
Second, it is a classic detective crime investigation story. this is probably what I liked about Zootopia the most. There was enough suspense and wild chase scenes and skulking bad guys to make it a little too intense for younger viewers (It’s rated PG). There’s no blood and in the end nobody actually gets killed, although there are scenes where characters come close. Plus, every suspenseful scene is couched in plenty of well-written humor to keep it from getting too intense. Much of the humor comes from another genre that is borrowed from many great live-action cop movies; it’s a buddy cop story. In Zootopia, the buddies are a female rabbit cop named Judy Hopps and a male con-man fox named Nick Wilde. The love hate relationship between the two of them is as good as any buddy cop movie I’ve seen from Hollywood.
The third strong point of Zootopia was the beautiful and intricate world the animators set the story in. The city of Zootopia is supposed to be a place where all animals can live together in harmony. To that end, the city is divided up into 12 ecosystems. In other words, there is a part that is an Amazon rain forest, another that is a dessert, another that is a place of snow and ice, and so on and so on. The action passes through many of these worlds and they are all breathtaking in their own way.
I enjoyed Zootopia immensely as did everyone else in my family. Well done Disney. I can’t wait to see how you change the CGI Animation game in your next movie. According to the schedule, that will be a movie called Moana, opening later this year.