By Lewis Gregory (Merseyside, England)
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Zootopia (or Zootropolis as it is known in the UK) is the latest offering from Walt Disney Animation Studios and is the story of Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), an optimistic rabbit who has the dream of becoming the first ever rabbit police officer. When she does the unthinkable and tops her class at the Police Academy, she is transferred to Zootopia, a lively city filled with anthropomorphic animals, where she must solve a missing mammal case. Teaming up with sly fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and with only 48 hours to solve the case, the plot soon deepens when a sinister conspiracy is uncovered.

Firstly, this movie has some fantastic characters, particularly in the form of Hopps and Wilde who, as an unlikely pair, produce some fantastic chemistry and this is aided by the terrific voice acting of Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman. Not only are they both incredibly slick and smart characters, they offer a much-needed change in Disney characters as this Disney movie goes away from the typical and clich├ęd “princess who is locked in a tower and the prince who is her true love” characters, giving the movie an even more fresh and original feeling. What is even more remarkable is how the animators used the mannerisms and looks of the voice actors when designing the characters. This creates an even greater human feel to these anthropomorphic animals and enhances the connection between the audience and the characters.

There are also some great and memorable supporting characters in Zootopia such as Hopps’ grumpy boss Chief Bogo (Idris Elba), The cute and chubby cheetah Clawhauser (Nate Torrence) as well as Mayor Lionheart (J.K. Simmons) and Assistant Mayor Bellweather (Jenny Slate). The top-notch voice acting adds to the love that you have for these characters and the slick and smart personalities of these characters match the tone of the movie perfectly.

Another great thing about this movie is that it appeals to both kids and grown-ups alike. The hilarious comedy which is found in some scenes (particularly one involving sloths which had me laughing hysterically) as well as the delightfully colourful and detailed animation are just some of the things which will keep the kids entertained but it also has some fantastic pop culture references which adults will be keen to look out for and enjoy as well, ranging from The Godfather to Breaking Bad. I find that the Disney movies which appeal to both the kids and the adults are the best since neither group feels left out and both groups can be entertained.

In addition, whilst the entertaining characters, animation and humour offer many benefits, Zootopia is also arguably the most important movie that you will see this year. I say this because it offers an incredibly effective, powerful and timely message of inclusivity, empowerment, opportunity and just simply getting along and loving our neighbour. It is most effective during our current times of untrust, hatred and a society longing for more equality. This entire thought-provoking message that Zootopia carries makes it so relatable as a movie and it feels less like the typical ‘fantasy worlds’ that Disney creates.

Of course, although it very close to perfection, this movie does suffer from some pacing issues between the second and third acts as the missing mammal case deepens. Exposition and slower scenes become the key ingredients during this part of the movie. Nevertheless, this is only during a small portion of the movie and apart from that minor nitpick, Zootopia is fantastic. We are even offered a tremendously catchy song by Shakira during the end credits called “Try Everything” which won’t only make you want to nod your head and tap your feet but is a great way for the movie to bow out whilst maintaining its tone of empowerment.

Overall, Zootopia is a fantastic new offering from Disney which contains brilliant characters and voice acting, gorgeous animation, tons of humour, an incredibly powerful and timely message and it is sure to prove a hit for both kids and parents. Another triumph from Disney.

Rating: 9/10

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