********* 8 out of 10 *********
Director: Byron Howard & Rich Moore
Actors: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba
Ever since Pixar’s John Lasseter has been supervising the animation projects under the Disney banner, the age-old globally popular Walt Disney Animation Studios has seen a resurgence that doesn’t look like it will come to an end anytime soon. The studio is giving us once again memorable characters, building character arcs which make their journey more eventful, with a vibrant and colourful backdrop that make animated movies such a joy to watch. Zootopia comes from the top drawer of Disney’s movie collection, a script that is genuinely captivating, characters that bond beautifully to our delight, and great animation work which does justice to the story.
The story of a youngster dreaming of an impossible ambition is not a particularly new theme, but it has such a strong emotional connect that it can work again and again. Especially when the theme is refreshed to some degree as it is in Zootopia by introducing a young ambitious bunny, Judy Hopps, who wants to be a cop in the land of Zootopia which is filled with animals living in harmony. There has never been a bunny cop before in Zootopia and so when Judy does become the first, she is delighted and so are we. The story though is just beginning. A tough commanding officer, Chief Bogo, puts her on parking duty much to her chagrin. But from thereon a real adventure begins. In search of a missing mammal, the rookie Judy has to take the help of a fugitive con artist fox, Nick Wilde, to uncover a conspiracy that would have been equally intriguing even for a non-animated movie.
The story for this movie is attributed to as many as eight writers, with the final screenplay written by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston, the former also credited as a co-director on the film. There have been clearly a lot of heads involved in some key areas of Zootopia. It did not ruin anything in the movie though. Directors Byron Howard & Rich Moore have maintained a terrific pace for the movie as the screenplay unravels beautifully to give us one clue after the other which turns Zootopia into an edgy thriller at times. In the midst of all the action and drama, the movie manages to create a terrific bond between Judy and the con fox, Nick who is a refreshing character for an animation movie with different shades to his nature. The movie is packed with humour, some that can make you roll on the floor literally. The animation work is colourful and energizing, even though that is something we have now come to expect from the industry.
The voice actors provide the soul to this movie, bringing in the different emotions that the scene demands. Ginnifer Goodwin succeeds in turning Judy into an ambitious and courageous character, but a rookie cop nonetheless who is learning on the job. Jason Bateman brings an amount of maturity to Nick, with the right touch of shrewdness that few actors could have delivered with such warmth. And you have to love Idris Elba, with that booming recognizable voice of his as Chief Bogo. J.K. Simmons as the Mayor Lionheart is another terrific voice to hear; Jenny Slate as the Assistant Mayor Bellwether is meek in the right way; Nate Torrence as Clawhauser is a joy; Maurice LaMarche as Mr. Big brings the house down! And yeah, so do the sloths. You have watch the movie to appreciate that! We got Shakira too as the popstar Gazelle.
In hindsight, Zootopia works on a formula that isn’t necessarily new. But it still feels so refreshingly different because it gets all its elements perfectly in place in a trim and well-structured storyline. Movies like Zootopia are the reason why you start watching movies as a kid, and keep watching them no matter how old you get. Keep up the good work, Disney!