directors Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
viewed: 03/06/2016 at Century San Francisco Centre 9 and XD, SF, CA
Disney bought Pixar in 2006, and since that time, the two studios, under leadership of John Lasseter, have cross-pollinated significantly. This cross-pollination, though, has borne better fruit for the venerable Hollywood animation titan than for the upstart Emeryville, CA studio that made digital animation great and viable. Disney has been on a roll again, the latest rebirth of a studio with a long history of change and redevelopment. And Zootopia is their latest very good animated feature.
Digital animation only gets better, so it seems. Every year, each new film, looks slicker and more amazing in its rendering of these vividly detailed fantasy universes. You can actually sit in awe of the fur on a characters wrist (if you are so inclined, as apparently me and my now 12 year old daughter are). But looks are certainly not everything.
Arguably, character and storytelling make up a much larger percentage of everything, but the beauty of the renderings should never be glossed over.
Zootopia is a parable about racism and sexism, set in a universe where all mammals have come to evolve into a happy urban fantasy, where “anybody can become anything”. I don’t know how biting or mordant the social criticism stands, but the story shoots a bit higher than the average animated feature in themes, so that is worth noting.
It’s a buddy comedy about a bunny cop and a fox con-man who wind up having to solve the mysterious disappearances of several animals, all of former predatory classes, which uncovers an even deeper, darker, more divisive mystery below. For the most part, Zootopia eschews big name stars in recognizable voice roles, and allows the characters to be developed as unique beings. Thus Officer Judy Hopps and “Nick” Wilde’s humorous relationship and partnership works. It’s easy to forget that was Jason Bateman behind the latter of the two.
It’s a funny, entertaining, at times a bit thrilling and scary (for little ones), another fine film from Disney, probably my favorite since Tangled (2010), who knows maybe longer than that?