The Film (4.5/5)
Disney has been on a roll as of late. I could safely pinpoint Tangled as the "Little Mermaid" moment for what I'll call the third Disney renaissance. With their earliest period of animated feature filmmaking being their first, possibly most fruitful period, and of course, the 90's era from Little Mermaid to Lion King showcasing the second coming of the Mouse House. However, the late 90's and early 2000's saw the studio in a slump. The musical films that had made their fortunes in the 90’s had waned in popularity, and their other attempts simply weren't sticking. That is not to say that good to great films didn't come out during that period, but they didn't come out consistently.
Then came Tangled, and so it seemed the creative staff at Disney seemed to find a new spark which has done them well through the subsequent half decade plus. They have now created a micro-slate of new generation Disney classics including Wreck it Ralph, Big Hero 6, and of course what is probably going to the biggest Disney film in this generation, Frozen. Disney have returned in 2016, with another wild entertaining, and gorgeously animated effort, Zootopia. Showing fans that the creatives behind Disney have no intent on slowing down.
Zootopia follows a young rabbit by the name of Judy Hopps. Judy has since childhood aspired to move to the epic animal metropolis of Zootopia, where she believes diversity reigns, and anyone can be anything they want to be. Judy's lifelong ambition is to be a police officer, a position that has never been held by a rabbit in the history of Zootopia. Her enthusiasm, however, shines through, and she makes it through Zootopia's police academy at the top of her class. When assigned to her first job, she is given a post as meter maid. Though discouraged, she does her best in the position. Judy, however, would like to investigate real crimes, and when she hears of a missing animals case that has not been explored, she jumps on it. Unfortunately, her boss is none too pleased with her effort, and issues an ultimatum that if she doesn't solve the case in 48 hours she must resign. With the assistance of Nick Wilde, a clever fox that plays on the other side of the law, she begins to investigate the disappearance and finds there is more to it, then simply a missing otter.
Zootopia may actually go down as one of Disney's most interesting efforts from this period. The film blends the crime/police genres and puts them into a format that is suitable for kids. They also add a social subtext to the piece that is so strong, it is practically no longer subtext. The film deals with issues of racism in a way that is palatable for children of all ages, in the way the various types of predator and prey species interact with each other in the sprawling animal metropolis of Zootopia. Yet, it still manages to be hilarious, and constantly entertaining.
The film is gorgeously animated, with some very lush bright sequences, and some nice dark and shadowy sequences that would fit in with a film noir or even a horror film (or course for a younger set). The film though it has a mystery plot running through it, doesn’t overly hinge upon it for it’s motivations. The film works off the strengths off it’s well drawn and fun characters , and the diversity of it’s setting. Though it takes place in one “city”, Zootopia itself has a interesting set of environments for each fitting it’s animal characters.
I have walked out of Disney’s most recent films excited for what’s next. A decade ago I could not have said that. Zootopia is another excellent addition to the canon of Disney classics.
Zootopia is presented by Disney in a splendid 2:39:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer that will shock no one in the fact that it is simply reference quality. The Blu-ray shows off bright, lush, colors, deep blacks, and excellent detail throughout. The audio is presented in a similarly solid DTS-DH MA 7.1 track in English, the dialogue, score, and ambient effects come through nicely, and I could not detect any issues with the track.
Zootopia’s Blu-ray is not that an elaborate edition as far as extras are concerned, and is mostly pulling back the curtain for the child audience expected of the film. Viewers will get a few behind the scenes docs, a trip by the filmmakers to explore the backgrounds of the animals in the film, deleted scenes, a few Easter eggs.
Disney has hit another one out of the park with their recent animated release, Zootopia. The Blu-ray looks and sounds stunning, however, the extras are limited. RECOMMENDED.