A Timely Reminder: ‘Zootopia’ review

Written by on February 24, 2016

In Cinemas: 3 March 2016
Running Time: 1h 48 minutes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Don’t let the cute facade of Zootopia infatuate you. It’s probably guaranteed that Zootopia will tickle the funny bones of many young children, but for the teenagers and the adults, Zootopia cleverly touches on deeper issues and lessons, perhaps a subtle reminder for humanity in today’s world.

Let’s begin. Warning: expect spoilers.

A quick synopsis: our heroine, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), has always wanted to be a police officer. Eventually, she does and becomes the first bunny police officer. This job leads her to move to the city of Zootopia, where prey and predators live together in harmony and in peace. She’s handed a minuscule job scope, leaving her unfazed, if not sad. When an unsolved case arrives, she hops on it, with the help of Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a fox, on her tail.

What I loved about Zootopia is how it very cleverly injects and translates issues in the human world into the animal world. And how much of the movie was so realistic, even though it’s set in the animal world.

A summary of some issues highlighted: a very (polite) stab at how wishing things won’t magically make your dreams come to pass, and a sometimes unwarranted fear and prejudice from social systems as a result of stereotypes and bias.

Let me elaborate.

Firstly, for example, calling a rabbit ‘cute’ is a derogatory slur, in which only rabbits are allowed to use that word within their community, but it is not appropriate for others to use. I interpreted this a real world reminder for humanity. In the context of the Radio Heatwave readership and community – do teenagers realise that some of the words they use (such as words to describe black people and gays) are slurs?

Another issue translated that I loved – the phobia of predators, based on the actions of a few predators that have been ‘radicalised’. In a time when ISIS pervades in our world, and where Donald Trump’s Islamophobia threatens to influence many gullible people to follow his stance, Zootopia’s highlighting of such issues cannot be more timely, or appropriate. Furthermore, Zootopia charges ahead and cleverly parallels and translates the media attention on such issues into the animal world such as documenting the growing fear of the predators, and specifically and only highlighting cases in which predators attack prey.

One small gripe about the film: I was a little put off by the use of deus ex machina (basically means a plot device where an unsolvable problem is solved by the intervention of a new character or event) of the movie, but I would understand why, because ultimately, it’s still a family movie, and especially so since this is a cop and sidekick film. Despite this, the technicalities of the film are impressive – all the animals are stunningly beautiful, both individually and in groups, with the environments top notch and near perfect to match.

Despite this, Zootopia is hoppingly hilarious, and is chockfull of easter eggs especially for Disney fans. Try and spot the references to Wreck-It-Ralph, Frozen, Tangled and more of the other Disney movies throughout the film, but at the same time, Disney has scored a homerun with Zootopia. For the older ones, Zootopia provides moral lessons that can be easily understood, while for the younger ones, it is sure to capture attention and provide laughs. Enjoy the Shakira song and immortalisation into the film at the end.

Picture courtesy of Disney.

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