Reviews aren’t usually my thing (when I’m writing, I love to write in my own fictional worlds.)
However, I made an exception with this movie because of the anthropomorphic animal genre I write in. It’s no doubt my favorite ‘type of character’ to write about-mixing humans and talking animals just adds a whole other dimension of writing for me, and I’m not by far the best writer of this genre (Richard Adams is probably the best), but it’s what feels right to me-it’s what I WANT to write about all the time.
When I try to write about just humans-I get bored (exception made for my short films.)
So, this movie of course peaked my interest right away from the teaser trailer. So, I waited almost a year (give or take) to see this movie, and I tried to stay away from reviews and I especially stayed away from plot (I do this for every movie I see-a movie should be an experience seen and not read about too much in my humble opinion.)
Boy, was I glad I did not read much about it.
In a nutshell, this is my definition of a perfect movie. I’ve used that word for very few movies (“Alien”, “District 9”, “Silence of The Lambs”, “Watership Down” to name a few movies on that list)
I was just floored by every single aspect of this movie, and I plan on seeing it at least one more time in theaters. Any movie that can balance comedy, drama, visual effects, plot and acting deserves to be recognized in my mind. It wasn’t like one was over done, it blended all so well. I’ll need to put this review in sections to fully explain why this is surly my second favorite animated film of all time:
Plot: The film concerns an anthropomorphic rabbit named Judy who wishes to be a cop in the big animal-run city of Zootopia.
She makes her way through her classes with flying colors-but ultimately becomes a parking inspector.
However-she soon gets tangled up in a case of missing mammals and predators (exclusively) going ‘savage’ (reverting to their original state of bloodthirsty carnivores.)
Why is this happening? How are missing mammal cases and predators going nuts connected? She meets a slick fox named Nick Wilde (played amazingly by Jason Bateman) who at first reluctantly helps her-but like in any ‘buddy cop’ movie, they soon learn to like each other. Sounds cliche, right?
Well, what if I told you that the reason why the animals are going savage is due to political figures lying to the public and acting accordingly to their prejudice thoughts?
The reason why mammals are going missing and predators are going crazy, is due to creepy science experiments run in part by the mayor and his secretary and a bunch of shadowy hitmen (hitanimals?)
So, basically-the bad guys are a corrupt government.
There is more to the story such as exactly how they make the predators ‘turn bad’.
However, my favorite part of the plot was just the fact that the animals running Zootopia tricked everyone into thinking that predators are awful and will kill anything in sight to instill fear into the public.
Remember, this is a DISNEY movie-to me this played out as an espionage thriller with deep characters and even deeper motivations for their actions. Racism and prejudice thinking certainly was at the front of the message.
The film portrayed the darkness of having ignorant people in charge of a whole community, how power can quickly corrupt and how one person in power can influence tons of sheep (pun intended.)
The movie is also about facing your emotions, how it’s okay to open up to people and get emotional (Nick and Judy both have complex pasts) and it isn’t until they open up to each other that they both feel more ‘at ease’.
A very good message for children and adults. No need to bottle up your true feelings as long as you can let them out in a safe and honest way.
There were also some really great ‘psychological thriller’ aspects-one scene inparticular actually creeped me out (again..a DISNEY movie!)
It was the scene where Nick and Judy enter an abandoned hospital to discover new clues and find a lot of remnants of an insane asylum type place-reminded me of something out of David Fincher’s “Seven”…brilliant stuff! Okay, enough with drama.
The humor was spot on-I literally laughed at every little and big joke, the writing was so clever (much better than the majority of R-rated comedies)
This was sharp, clever comedy. The scenery was spot on and so were all the character designs…I mean, I was not bored for one single moment. I can remember a few movies (some of which I saw within the past year) where I just got bored in the middle-doesn’t mean they’re bad movies, it just means I guess for me there wasn’t enough for the complete runtime. I was engaged from start to finish-I did not want it to end. Nothing to complain about as far as plot.
On a side note, the fact that Judy and Nick were just best friends and not ‘romantic’ was great. I hate when female and male characters in movies (especially in Disney movies) automatically fall in love. It’s 1000% okay to be friends with someone of the opposite / same sex and not get all romantic on them! Life is not always about romance and I think this movie proved that well…Judy and Nick are genuine friends.
JUDY HOPPS: Rarely is the main character in a story my favorite, but Judy Hopps was not only a compelling and loveable character, she is…my favorite strong female character in film. Why? With all the thrillers I’ve seen about kick ass girls, why is Judy Hopps at the top?
Her struggle to become as awesome as she is, was a journey. We saw her struggle to be an officer, we saw her weaknesses, we saw where she excelled. Big deal, right? We see that in a lot of movies.
90% of the kick butt characters I see (male or female) are usually stern and not very caring-I’m tired of that. Judy was kick butt, she did a LOT of awesome stuff and really risked her life more than once.
She outsmarted the fox numerous times (we’ll get to him!)
Anyway, yeah-she can give any villain a run for his / her money, and she definitely sticks up for herself and others even if the opponent is more powerful physically…here is where she won me over- she also was sensitive.
See, I think a quality missing in so many action heroes is kindness and empathy. We see Judy offer help in her community and make others feel good about themselves, she’s very loyal and would I think help anyone who needed it. She spoke so genuinely and from the heart-which is something that I try to do in my own life.
She offers words of kindness to those who might be in the dumps, not many action heroes do that. Her speech at the end totally gave me goosebumps on how much it related to my view of the world, it was THAT good.
My second topic on her was, how she sort of had to outsmart everyone to get to the top. She was smaller than all the animals on the police force-but she snuck in around them. She didn’t use brute force-she used her brain. Lastly-she was a good cop who went above and beyond the call of duty, so many police officers in movies are depicted poorly and I think it’s unfair. It’s sort of the first time I can think ‘wow…kick butt action hero-but also someone I can try to emulate in my own life.’
NICK WILDE: While Judy resonated with me in a deep way-the most entertaining character by a long shot was Nick Wilde, the fox. Jason Bateman nailed his role-his delivery was just so great, I loved his sort of cocky attitude at the beginning-but then we begin to discover what his past harbors and in doing so-becomes a kinder individual than maybe he once was. His humor is not over the top like in most ‘kid’s movies’…his humor is basically all dialogue driven, full of puns and subtle jokes.
Even when he becomes a cop at the end of the movie-he doesn’t lose his ‘attitude’-but he does grow I think to become a lot more caring.
I love how he sort of messed with others, not in a super mean way-but in a sort of joking and teasing way. I liked how resourceful he was and I think he truly used his knowledge for the great good when helping out Judy-and I really don’t think he was ever a ‘bad guy’…he re-sold popsicles, and the only thing Judy got him on was tax evasions. I never felt his sneaky behavior hurt others (however-a scene involving a ‘Mr. Big’ did land Nick and Judy in trouble due to a stunt he pulled.)
There is a lot I liked about him, he’s truly someone I’d love to talk to and see what his viewpoints are, he seemed to be someone who didn’t let others take advantage of him-he’s a really smart character who possibly is the second best fox in movies (first being “Robin Hood”…sorry Nick!) I like him better now that I know he sorted his life out and became a good officer. He’s my third favorite character of the film.
Every character was great and I loved them all (my least favorite being Mr. Big…I just wasn’t as interested in him as the rest.)
I want to give a quick mention to my second favorite character, Chief Bogo, played by Idris Elba. This character was huge and intimidating and quite stern (actually reminded me of my own character, Leonard.) However-like Judy and Nick, we discover that he’s kind hearted. He’s not a dreamer like Judy, he looked at life in a realistic sense. He doesn’t really like those who talk about overachieving (unless you can prove him wrong and actually do more than he thought you capable.) I really liked his honesty and like with Nick, he’s someone I’d love to talk to about my own anxieties.
I really have nothing to complain about-I usually do, but I can’t think of a single thing I disliked or hated about this movie, and that’s rare. Is the movie a masterpiece? I personally don’t think so, I’ve seen talking animal movies and I’ve seen detective thrillers-but I WILL say the movie is brilliant in its use of combining the two! So yeah, brilliant is that word I’ll use (I also use ‘perfect’ but for the sake of the review, brilliant is a more unorthodox word!)
I can’t wait to see it in theaters at least one more time and then get it on Blu-ray.