Zootopia

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a world populated by anthropomorphic mammals, Judy Hopps, a rabbit from rural Bunnyburrow, fulfills her dream of becoming the first rabbit officer in the police department of nearby city Zootopia. After graduating valedictorian upon being presented as the new Zootopia Police Department member by Mayor Leodore Lionheart, she is assigned parking duty by Chief Bogo who doubts her potential due to her being a rabbit and thus smaller than most of the large animals on the force. During one of her shifts, she meets Nick Wilde, a con artist fox, and his partner Finnick.

Hopps abandons her shift to arrest a thief named Duke Weaselton. She is reprimanded by Bogo and nearly fired until Mrs. Otterton arrives pleading for help locating her missing husband – one of many animals recently missing in Zootopia. To Bogo’s dismay, Hopps volunteers and agrees to resign if she cannot solve the case within 48 hours. She sees Wilde in the last known photo of Otterton and tracks him down, coercing him into to assisting her with the investigation.

After acquiring Mr. Otterton’s license plate number, Hopps and Wilde track the vehicle to Mr. Big, an Arctic shrew crime boss. Initially, he orders them “iced,” but after his daughter spares them, Mr. Big informs the pair that his florist Mr. Otterton had gone savage and attacked his chauffeur Manchas. Hopps and Wilde locate Manchas, who mentions “night howlers” were responsible for attacking him before he goes savage and chases the pair out of his home. When Bogo and his reinforcements arrive, Manchas disappears. Bogo demands Hopps resign, but Wilde takes a stand, insisting they have 10 more hours to solve the case. As the pair leaves, Hopps learns from Wilde that he was bullied by prey animals as a pup and became a criminal, believing he would be stereotyped as one no matter what due to being a fox.

Wilde realizes that the city’s traffic camera system may have captured Manchas’s disappearance, and the pair consults Assistant Mayor Dawn Bellwether. They identify the captors as wolves, hence “night howlers”. Hopps and Wilde locate the missing mammals (including Mr. Otterton) at Cliffside Asylum. All are predators, and all have gone savage like Manchas. The two discover Mayor Lionheart consulting with Dr. Madge Honey Badger about the predators’ condition. The pair escape with the evidence and the police swarm the area, arresting Lionheart.

Having developed a friendship with Wilde throughout the case, Hopps requests that he joins the Zootopia Police Department and become her partner, which Wilde happily considers. However, during a press conference, Hopps mentions that the savage animals are predators and argues they have gone back to their “natural state.” Wilde is hurt and angrily walks out on her offer. Fear and discrimination against predators spreads across Zootopia and a guilt-ridden Hopps resigns. During this time, pop singer Gazelle holds a peaceful protest and publicly asks for the harmonious Zootopia she loves to be restored.

Back in Bunnyburrow, Hopps learns from her former bully Gideon Grey that “night howlers” are flowers that have a severe psychotropic effect on mammals. Hopps returns to Zootopia and reconciles with Wilde after being told where he is by Finnick. They locate Weaselton and catch him. With help from Mr. Big, Judy learns that Weaselton has been collecting night howlers for a secret laboratory. The pair discover the lab and find sheep scientists creating a night howler serum which has been injected into predators via dart guns. Hopps and Wilde race to the ZPD with the evidence, but the sheep scientists pursue them.

Just short of the ZPD, the pair encounters Bellwether who tries to take the evidence. Realizing Bellwether is the mastermind of a species-supremacist conspiracy, Hopps and Wilde try to flee, but Bellwether shoots a dart at Wilde and calls the ZPD for help. Wilde becomes savage and corners Hopps, but it turns out the pair were acting and had swapped out Bellwether’s darts for blueberries. With Bellwether’s confession recorded on Hopps’s carrot pen, the two have enough evidence to unravel the conspiracy. Bellwether is then arrested for her crimes alongside her accomplices. When informed and interviewed on the matter, Lionheart explains that he had no knowledge of Bellwether’s plot, but fully confesses his crime of illegally imprisoning the savaged predators during his confidential mission by stating that it was done for the “right reasons.”

Some months later, Hopps is reinstated into the ZPD. The savaged mammals are cured. Inspired by his friend’s faith in him, Wilde joins the ZPD as the first fox police officer and Judy’s new partner. During the credits, all of Zootopia enjoys a performance by Gazelle while Bellwether angrily watches the live streaming from prison.

REVIEW:

A man of my age should not be excited for a kids’ film, but I can’t help it. I’ve been looking forward to Zootopia since the first trailer dropped last summer. Why, you may ask? Well, there is so much promise and potential here. Disney isn’t just recycling another princess story, but rather coming up with original material. Hopefully it pays off!

What is this about?

Nick Wilde is a fox with a criminal record. He meets Judy Hopps, a rabbit that is just starting out as a police officer. She is trying to live up to the expectations of her parents, Bonnie and Stu. Judy and Nick must work together to find a missing otter. Along the way, they develop an unlikely friendship and learn about the other citizens of Zootopia. The team discovers the surprising truth about the missing otter, realizing the disappearance goes deeper than they ever expected.

What did I like?

Creativity. A society of all types of animals living in one big city. I really liked how the developers not only gave us different climates for the various animals, but also different sizes, tunnels, entrances, exits, etc. It really felt like a city where animals had just evolved into civilization, rather than another anthropomorphic animated tale.

An offer you can’t refuse. When I heard there was a scene based on The Godfather, I was skeptical. After all, the audience for this film is nowhere near old enough to have watched and appreciated that fine film. However, when I saw the scene and how it fit in with the story, I was relieved. Yes, it is probably there because the writers are fans and it is something for the adults, but the main thing is that the scene works. On another note, there is also a small Breaking Bad reference, if you can catch it.

Relevance. Even in a society of animals, racism (or speciesism) is present. Predators are not looked kindly upon in this society because, well, they could revert back to their killing ways. Because of this, and with someone turning predators back to their savage ways, they have more or less become second class citizens. Yes, this is a theme in a kids movie. The same kind of thing that we are experiencing in society today where people are turning on each other just because they have different beliefs, skin color, or don’t vote a certain way. I give this film a standing ovation for tackling this subject, because it is obvious parents aren’t doing their job anymore and our society is headed to hell in a handbasket!

What didn’t I like?

Exploration. As little Judy Hopps was riding the train into Zootopia, we see the various areas of the city. It kind of reminded me of the first couple of Hunger Games films, where we saw the different districts and how different they were. Here’s my issue with this, though. It seems to me that they could have done more with exploring the city. For the most part, the film stays downtown. They make one trip out to the tundra, a couple of treks to the rainforest, but that’s it. I don’t believe they even went to the desert! If you’re going to have these impressive ecosystems (and go through all the trouble of creating them), then do something with them!

Give it away. If you’ve been keeping up with the marketing for this film, then I’m sure you’ve seen the most popular trailer for it. You know, the one with the sloths at the DMV. The first time I saw that, I laughed for a good 10-15 minutes. It cracked me up! However, that is an actual scene from the movie, with a couple of snippets taken out here and there. While I loved it, I think they should have saved it. Maybe given us a peek, but not the whole thing. The trailer for Captain America: Civil War came out yesterday and they gave away the one thing that they really should have held close to the vest, Spider-Man! What is with trailers these days and giving everything away? As far as the sloths go, it is hands down one of the funniest scenes in the film and it isn’t hard to see why they put it out there, I just wish they’d have shown a little restraint and not given us the whole thing!

Dance, Gazelle, Dance. A trope that was started back with Shrek, if not before, was ending animated films with a dance sequence utilizing all the characters. This has never been my cup of tea and, while this film works it into the story (a concert featuring the biggest pop star of this world, Gazelle), I still couldn’t get into it. Just give me my happy ending and roll the credits. If you must have Gazelle sing and dance underneath that’s fine, but that didn’t do anything for the film to include it in the actual movie.

Final verdict on Zootopia? This is one of the best animated film I’ve seen in the last few years. Each character is developed and given something to do, other than just standing there (aside from the characters that are meant to just stand there). The story isn’t what I initially thought it was and, with the exception of one swerve, nothing was predictable. This is definitely a film worth taking the kids to see multiple times, but please make sure they are well-behaved and not running up to the top, jumping on people so that they can put bunny ears on the screen (yes, this actually happened!) Control your children, people!

5 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “Zootopia”

  1. […] much the same way that the smash Zootopia demonstrated that creatures of different culture and class and species are better off when they […]

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