HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:89
Disney is no stranger to blending modern day politics and social issues into their films. In fact just about every one of their movies over the years have dealt with the social and economic issues that are going on in the time period that they come from. Sometimes they’re overt, and other times more subtle, but there is ALWAYS a double layer to every film. “Zootopia” deals with the whole furor of acceptance and targeting of others in the general populace due to fear. I won’t get political and try to make parallels, but it’s pretty obvious considering the news for the last year what they were aiming for. Thankfully Disney does a good job at not pointing fingers and making obvious caricatures to lay blame, but keeps the themes general and entertaining for people of all ages, creeds and political opinions. As with most Disney films the jokes are humorous for every kid, but also intertwined with modern day pop culture that will whiz right over the young ones heads, but leave the adults dying on the floor. “Zootopia” comes at a time when Disney has risen from the ashes and started on a new golden age of animation, as they have had hit after hit in the last 7 or 8 years. Some of which have become my personal favorites of the entire Disney Lineup! “Zootopia” is not the top echelons of Disney, rating up there with “Wreck-it Ralph” or “Tangled”, but it is a wildly (pun intended) fun little adventure story that is filled with rich characters and luscious animation that screams “WATCH ME!”.
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin of “Once Upon a Time”) wants to be a cop more than anything in the world. It’s been her life’s dream ever since she was a fluffy little bunny, but sadly life seems to want to stand in her way. No bunny has EVER been a police officer in the history of Zootopia. Those roles are usually reserved for the big, tough alpha predators, not tiny little carrot munchers. However that does not mean that Judy is not going to try and her best, and try her best she does. After much hardship overcoming some incredible odds she finds herself in the Zootopia PD. BUUUUUUUUUUUUUT, just because you make it past one hurdle doesn’t meant that you’re in the home stretch to easy street. Something that Judy is about to find out first hand. Looked down on by her peers, as well as her commanding officer, Chief Bogo (Idris Elba). While the rest of the force is out looking for a rash of missing predator species, Judy is stuck in meter maid duty.
That doesn’t mean she’s done trying though. After a run in with a sneaky weasel named Duke (Alan Tudyk), Judy is put in the middle of the action and given 48 hours to solve the disappearance of Mr. Otterton. As hard as this task is, it’s made even worse due to the fact that there is NO evidence on the crime. Hustling in a hustling fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), the determined rookie digs deeper into the case than anyone thought possible, and uncovers some shocking information about the case in the process. A case that turns out to be more intricate than just a simple kidnapping.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=71841[/img]In all honesty, Disney doesn’t exactly explore anything new and inventive here. The themes of oppression and fear of others has been a common theme in their movies. “The Fox and the Hound” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” did it decades ago, but “Zootopia” manages to rise above the generic theme creating a rich tapestry of characters that exists in a unique world that no one has ever seen before. Director’s Bryon Howard (of “Tangled” fame) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-it Ralph”) blend in a sense of joy and overwhelming beauty in the character’s interactions that just can’t help but love each and every one. Judy is the adorable one (well, it IS Ginnifer Goodwin, e.g. Snow White) and Jason Batmen compliments her quite nicely as the harshly cynical hustler, Nick the fox. As much as I love me some Disney characters, their real bread and butter has always been the side characters, and the Mouse House does not disappoint in the slightest. We have “flash” the sloth (Raymond Persi), a character that became an instant hit in the original trailers for the film, Mayor Lionheart (J.K. Simmons), and a Marlon Brando style “godfather” gangster by the name of Mr. Big (Maurice LaMarche). Each one is absolutely perfect in their roles and creates many of the belly laughs present in the narrative.
The jokes are never TOO kiddy or TOO adult, but strike a middle ground where the adults can chuckle a bit at the zaniness while the kids squeal at glee one moment, but then have some VERY adult jokes that had me dying while the kids may not be as tuned in (I somehow doubt that many kids are going to get the “Breaking Bad”, “The Godfather” and socio political side jokes about illicit arrests). Still, there are some slow parts to the movie. The first cat feels a bit too touchy feely, with the old childhood mantra that “you can be anything you want”! A mantra that grates just a bit much until the twist in the story takes off and it becomes clear that Disney is embracing the notion that life is a bit more complex than that. However that first half does suffer as a result of delaying that realization till it’s a bit too late and the rest of the movie plays catchup.
Rated PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=71849[/img]This will come as ZERO surprise for most people, but “Zootopia” is a magnificently animated digital film and the Blu-ray is just about 100% perfect. This is about as close as we’re going to get to sticking our TV’s right under the proverbial tap and chugging like a college student at a frat party. The colors are incredible, with heavily saturated primaries and intricate blending of softer colors to create a veritable Bob Ross color template on screen. Blacks are deep and inky, and the digital animation itself shows no signs of jaggies, crush, or other digital manipulation and artifacting. The simple animation is far from simple in reality, with all sorts of fine details intimately recreated on our home screen, from the individual hairs on Chief Bogo’s head, to the inky black forest location when Nick and Judy go to interview the terrified limo driver. Basically, one of the best demo discs I’ve seen in a while and a huge feather in Disney’s cap.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=71857[/img]The 7.1 DTS-HD MA track is no slouch either, and fills the room with a beautifully robust and aggressive mix that makes you feel like you’re in the theater once more. Sometimes the score felt a bit thin, but that is very much me nitpicking more than anything. The sounds of the heavy predators stomping their way around a little bunny sound powerful and fill the room with deep, hard hitting bass lines. Not to mention the incredibly detailed use of surrounds. The jungle chirps with all sorts of wildlife, and the bustling city central for Zootopia sounds like New York City on steroids with cars flitting by and people yelling as they make their way through the crowded suburban landscape. Jazzy pop music comes and goes at will, filling up the track with PLENTY of robust singing that lights up all 8 channels with aplomb. Dialog is firmly rooted in the center channel and never feels at odds with the rest of the bouncing and dynamic track.
• Research: A True-Life Adventure
• The Origin of an Animal Tale
• Zoology: The Roundtables
• Z.P.D. Forensic Files
• Music Videos
• Deleted Scenes
• Deleted Characters
“Zootopia” is not the best of the modern Disney films, but it still ranks itself up there with the really good ones, and is LEAUGUES better than the old tepid 90s films in comparison. The plot is not new, but the twist with the animals and the always funny side characters makes for a well layered film that is accessible for kids, but funny enough for adults at the same time. The audio and video are just about flawless (which is no surprise considering the studio) and the extras are pretty decent. I’m a huge huge Disney animated fan so this will probably come as no surprise that I whole heartedly recommend this movie as a purchase (especially if you have kids, or at least feel like a kid yourself).
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba
Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Written by: Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Rich Moore, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon, Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Runtime: 109 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 7th 2016
Buy Zootopia On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Zootopia 3D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
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