by Chad Osborne
Like many animated films, we get a childlike adventure seeing several different characters come to life in the unusual world of Zootopia. This world, however, is not very different from ours, except for the fact it’s filled with animals. Zootopia is a story about a small rabbit trying to keep up with the larger animals around her (I challenge anyone not to see this as a metaphor for the Western World’s way of life). In this case an eager young Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), struggles to pursue her dream of becoming the first “rabbit” cop in the great city of Zootopia. Along the way she soon finds out that the job is more challenging than it seems, and in more ways than she cold ever have imagined.
Visually, this film pleases the eye with the impressive art design, especially in the depiction of the variety of biodiversity settings, each relative to the many species of animals that live in the city of Zootopia. Although the narrative does follow the style of “the hero’s journey”, it does not portray a story that seems in any way generic. Not at all. Quite the contrary, the plot adds several twists, keeping you involved every step of the way as Judy learns one lessons after another about the realities of the world in which she lives.
As the pursuit progresses across the city’s many districts the changing biodiversity challenges each character to adapt (or not) to the worlds of Zootopia. It is literally a survival of the fittest as the mysteries continue to pile up for Judy and her sidekick Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a sly fox whose street-wise personality contrasts perfectly with Judy’s fresh optimism. The film virtually jumps off the screen with exploding movements and quick action that pulls you through the streets of the city, taking you to the next level of crime solving mystery as the two unlikely companions try to unravel the case.
Beyond its visual appeal, the film does a very good job getting the audience to relate to the adorable animated characters through the everyday life situations they undertake. The lead character undergoes several stages of struggle, which shows her growing process as to how she finds out who she really is. It leaves us with the lesson – it does not matter how small you are, you still can do great things. This is definitely a film that does not leave you thinking of it as a child’s movie, but rather I feel as though all ages will relate to it.
While all the elements of this film meet their goals, the one particular element that really stands out is sound. Although this is true about most animated features, Zootopia really out does the minimum requirement by adding extra effects when needed. After all, Judy is a speedy rabbit, full of ambition and courage, creating a lot of movement with every action. As Judy Hopps struggles to complete her training she is surrounded by larger animals who gather in a pack, stomping loudly around her. But this does not stop her from zipping around them or through the streets of Zootopia, past loud cars and through the commotion of people. The audible bustling of the city life of Zootopia brings a plethora of different sounds that enhance the excitement of the story. This adds to the greatness that Zootopia has to offer audiences. It’s not just another “kid film” with a simple story. I encourage you to take the time to watch a corny rabbit, a sly fox and some hysterical slow-moving sloths all in a large world of an animal running society and you will see what I am talking about and become a fan of yet another Disney family blockbuster.