Zootopia Blu-ray Review
Only four animated movies have made a billion dollars worldwide, at least at the time of this writing. Amongst those four, only two are an original story. That means that they aren’t a sequel or based off anything, such as a book or TV show. One of those is FROZEN, which I’m sure every parent is sick of hearing about and is ready to let it go. So let me tell you about the other movie, ZOOTOPIA.
Everyone in the city, Zootopia, can be broken down into two categories, prey and predators. It’s a rudimentary idea that comes into play a lot, as well as emphasizing the core themes, sexism, racism and prejudice. In Zootopia, carnivores live in harmony alongside herbivores. The city is divided into different climates to nurture and suit the creatures living in it. Outside Zootopia, the pillar of civilization in this world is Bunny Burrow, where we meet a young, upbeat bunny.
The chipper Judy Hopps (Goodwin) wants to be a cop. But because all the animals are proportionate to real-life animals in ZOOTOPIA, everyone laughs that a small bunny would ever dream of becoming an intimidating police officer. As she’s told multiple times, it’s never been done before and it’s silly dream. Even her parents nudge her in the direction of giving up on her dreams and settling. This is another theme of the movie, more suitable for kids, about never giving up on your dreams.
But ZOOTOPIA doesn’t waste too much of our time, quickly showing Hopps grow up, excel at the police academy and become the first bunny officer at the Zootopia Police Department. Despite being at the top of her class, Judy doesn’t get a lot of respect from her superiors or co-workers, all hulking and bulky elephants, tigers, cape buffalo, and other towering creatures. She’s relegated to meter maid duty, but she still keeps up her optimistic outlook.
That is until Nick Wilde (Bateman) enters the picture. He’s a con-man fox that slyly underlines the problems with the city. No one trusts anyone and we’ve all been born and raised with our own inherent biases towards each other. Defeated, she slowly succumbs to the negativity and stereotypes that permeate around her. But after 14 animals go missing, she’s tasked with finding one of them, a helpless otter. She’s given 48 hours to find the animal or she’ll be fired. But as luck would have it, she has to team up with Nick who may be the key to finding the otter.
ZOOTOPIA is rich, deep, vibrant, and a near-perfect entry into Disney’s catalogue. The computer animation is stellar and groundbreaking. One of the most complicated things to animate is fur/hair and having to do it with different animals took a reinventing of the digital wheel on Disney’s side. It pays off with unique character designs, subtle animal nuances, and a pulsating layout that never disappoints visually. It’ll ensure a viewer something new to lay their eyes on every time they watch it.
If Scarlett Johannson deserved a nomination for HER, certainly Goodwin does for providing the bubbly voice for Judy. Her character hops off the screen, instilling a powerful female figure that has been missing from many kids’ movies. Bateman’s performance, while more low-key, provides the actor the ability to dive into his natural sarcastic tone and provide depth and verbal sadness to a complex hustler. They’re an unlikely, but powerful vocal duo.
It almost pains me not to give this a perfect score because I enjoy this movie as much as I have other movies. On a raw emotional level, it registers, but not enough like INSIDE OUT or WALL-E. But just like those movies, it’s a world builder. ZOOTOPIA draws inspiration from old, new, used, and borrowed. It’s repackaging and well integrated themes provides entertainment for adults and kids alike, but that same repackaging has given a young generation something clever and new, and the older generation hope that there are still writers, directors, and animators ready to build a beautiful world.
I’d love to talk about it more, just like I have with others who have seen it. For those who are automatically entranced and find themselves in love with the story, there’s a lot to unpack. If Disney was hoping for a warm-up to FINDING DORY, they may have instead created its competition for 2016. It’s certain spawned fan fiction, fan drawings, and cosplay at many conventions. If Disney is looking for a franchise to nurture and build on, ZOOTOPIA is it. The groundwork has been laid out.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) Another fantastic Blu-ray presentation by Disney for one of the crown jewels of the animated world. A flawless presentation.
Audio: (Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Just like the video, the audio is perfect. It’s a blissful mix of sound effects, vocals and music.
Research: A True-Life Adventure (9:58): Disney sends the filmmakers and animators off to real world animal kingdom in order to get a better understanding of the animals and their place in the world. It highlights how some of the key decisions were made in production.
The Origin of an Animal Tale (9:15): This may be the most interesting feature because it talks about many of the early ideas for what the movie should be about, and how it changed over time. It also shows a lot of humility on the creator’s end.
Zoology: The Roundtables (18:23): This is a three-part feature that you can play all at once or play individually. Actress Ginnifer Goodwin introduces roundtable discussions on characters, environments and animation. Each topic is discussed by the key behind-the-scenes people and how they broke ground in each department.
Scoretopia (4:59): I’ve always found the process of audio production fascinating, even if it’s not memorable music. It’s interesting to see the various instrument incorporations. Rightfully so, the musicians find an interest in different percussion techniques.
Z.P.D. Forensic Files (3:23): A brief overview of the numerous Disney-related Easter eggs throughout the movie.
Music Video (3:21): The music video for “Try Everything” by Shakira
Deleted Characters (3:16): Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore show off the character designs for some of the furry animals that didn’t make the final cut or were reimagined.
Deleted Scenes (28:03): You can play all the deleted scenes in a bundle or separately. If you play them all together, it gives an intro about the specific of why it was deleted or altered by directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore. There are some deleted scenes from the original movie plot.