A peaceful protest demanding equal treatment for a city’s minority citizens. A diverse city almost torn apart by prejudice stemmed from ignorant fear. Turn on any news channel or website, get on any form of social media, and you might think I am describing any city across the United States.
You would be wrong.
I am talking about Disney Animation’s latest release, Zootopia.
With Tangled, the studio revealed its potential. With Wreck-It Ralph, it proved it could be original. With Frozen, it created a phenomenon. Since 2010, Disney Animation has consistently produced films with beautiful animation and fun entertainment for all ages. Zootopia is no exception.
In a world where animals have evolved and become anthropomorphic, predator and prey live in harmony in the city of Zootopia. Filled with all sorts of species, from rodents to elephants, Zootopia sells itself as the city where anyone can be anything. When Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the city’s first rabbit police officer, she is thrilled. However, she soon learns that she has to prove herself to her peers in order to be taken seriously as an enforcer of the law. She eagerly takes the opportunity to do so, unaware that she will need the help of a sly fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman).
In his book Starting Point, the acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki described animation as “building a truly unique and imaginary world, tossing in characters I like, and then creating a complete drama using them.” Zootopia is exactly that. The reason this film works is because of the unbelievably well-executed world Disney Animation built.
Not only is Zootopia visually stunning, but the city itself is also structured logically and has its own culture. Because the animals are the only fantastical element of the story, the filmmakers manage to maintain a sense of reality which enables them to poignantly comment on the shortcomings of our own society.
Zootopia is incredibly relevant. It is the best film about racism without actually mentioning the word race. At times, I was floored by what I was watching. The film itself isn’t shocking. Rather, the fact that Disney decided to be real for once was.
While the plot is slightly predictable and the third act reveal is not as strong Frozen’s, the film nails everything else. The voice cast is phenomenal and the fact that Kristen Bell plays a sloth is almost as hilarious as the scenes involving sloths. Shakira’s song has the ability to stay in one’s head well after the film ends and, as someone who love nature documentaries, I appreciate the attention to detail dedicated to the animals’ physiological habits.
Once again, Disney Animation has proven that they are in the midst of a new renaissance. Zootopia has humor for both kids and adults. It promotes friendship and acceptance, something that adults especially need to be reminded of.
Zootopia was released March 4, 2016.