Animation, Adventure, Action
Directed By: Byron Howard
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba
For Fans Of: Madagascar, Tangled, Frozen
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Having heard the feedback from a few various people, I jumped onto this movie like an excited puppy. I can’t help but like a cheesy kids movie when it’s done right. Disney throughout the ages have inspired greatness from their stories for kids and usually offer entertainment, not just for the little ones but for the big kids as well. And the latest offering, Zootopia, seemed to be a decent new effort that this big kid would enjoy. A story about a young bunny rabbit called Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) who wants to move to a big city where all sorts of animals live together in harmony, whether predator or prey. She is ridiculed for her big ambitions, but is determined to reach her goal. Its classic Disney, with a moral underneath the main story line. Despite not being able to spell Jennifer properly, Ginnifer seems to be pretty decent at voice acting, so I guess we can let her off, it’s nothing special but she decently carries our main heroine through this movie.
The movie really starts once in we're actually IN Zootopia, where Judy meets a mischievous fox called Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman. And again its classic Disney where two characters meet, at first don't get on, but ultimately end up having to buddy up. It’s predictable but actually pretty smart writing so it doesn't feel too regurgitated from past Disney films which have a similar plot. What this film has going for it majorly from the outset compared to what I have seen before, is its stunning visual world. Zootopia looks absolutely mind blowing, almost like an animal version of the Crystal Maze it comprises of different zones all of which are featured within the story at various points with various characters and startlingly they never feel thrown in for the sake of a cuddly toy, which is always the immediate danger when Disney are involved.
Jason Bateman, like Jenni….I mean 'Ginnifer', is decent enough throughout, without really dazzling their voice portrayals. But the star of the show is Idris Elba, Disney might just have found their most iconic voice actor since Phil Harris (Little John, Baloo). In my review for the recently modernised Jungle Book I had highlighted Idris’ performance as the true standout of that movie. And once again he steals the show with his character Chief Bogo. With some good dry wit when on screen, I totally loved this character. I don't know how different it is for actors to take on the art of voice acting and conquer it. But whatever Idris is doing it comes across so well, so powerful and the characters he plays seem absolutely made for his voice, instead of you thinking it’s just a voice thrown in afterward. I hope Disney realises how good he is and casts him for some other voice work in upcoming films. The guy has it nailed down. When Chief Bogo was on screen this film shone compared to some recent Disney efforts, sadly his time on screen, like Shere Khan’s in Jungle Book, was almost too sparse and I only wish they could have given him more.
Another character I loved, was Flash the sloth. Perhaps the best bit in the movie was watching a slow Sloth tell a bad dad gag. I was giggling like a school girl throughout this scene. It was brilliant script and most of all, the best piece of comedy in the movie. This was the first part where our lead characters first come together and start to form their friendship so it was perfectly timed in my eyes. And again my only disappointment regarding this was the lack of sloth action, though we are treated to another sloth fix late on, which is every bit as good as his introduction. The comedy is decent and consistent as it happens. The usually underlying moral storylines are not only good for teaching youngsters how to be decent people in future but could probably teach a few wrong-un adults how to be less of a dickhead as well.
So all in all a pretty successful effort from Disney, but there was a horrendous mistake made in this movie. And I’m sorry Disney, but you really shot yourselves in the foot with this one and it's dragged this movie from a potential 9 to a fairly average 7. The character of Gazelle, a singing and dancing pop star character, that serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever other than to have Shakira sing a song in it. WHY? It serves absolutely no purpose and actually irritated me so much more as a it was one of the most forceful pieces of film marketing I’ve ever encountered. It is mentioned throughout so often to emphasise the point “hey look, it’s Shakira, but it's a gazelle” big fucking deal. It’s the only part of the script and film that came across as a lazy attempt to get a bit of extra money out of the movie. And sadly that’s what Disney of modern times seems to be getting wrong more often than not. The song isn't even any good. It’s hardly a “Let it Go” so why they felt the need to crowbar this song and this character in, is beyond me. I couldn't help but feel it cheapened an otherwise decent Disney storyline.
The biggest let down in general is the music as it isn't exactly your classic Disney sing-a-long and in all honesty, I’m struggling to think of a moment in the film where I felt the music enriched what was being showcased on screen. But thankfully due to a funny sloth and the impeccable voice acting of Idris Elba, this still has enough in the bank to get it a decent rating. It’s a good solid Disney movie, worthy of a watch from anyone who usually likes these type of animated films. But is it Disney’s best ever? No, not by a long shot. Is it even up there with the modern classics of Frozen? No, again, I feel Frozen will stand up over time alongside some of the absolute classics of Lion King, Peter Pan and Robin Hood, where as I feel this may slide away as the years pass. Liked but not adored, therefore leaving this big kid a little disappointed but mostly giggling at sloths telling jokes.