Zootopia, 2016

Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba

IMDb

So I’m super late to the game on this one, but I just watched Zootopia and I have opinions. I probably wouldn’t be posting a review for it had there not been such an overwhelmingly positive general response to it.

It was good, although I feel like the response can probably be tied to just one attribute: the social commentary. Before I get too critical, let me just state that the social commentary is good, and I believe it provides a good message to have in a kids film. This one attribute, however, does not make a great movie, nor does it warrant its prior 100%, current 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also has a pretty fatal flaw.

Ok so now to the nitty gritty. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the film focusses heavily on the theme of discrimination, particularly discrimination by race, which I interpret as mirroring contextual anxieties towards middle easterners and muslims in the west. The film features a society of diverse anthropomorphic mammals, and animals that are traditionally predators inexplicably start attacking civilians in a ‘savage’ manner, and so, suddenly all predators are treated with caution and are shown to be denied certain rights. The flaw that I mentioned is in the execution. The film had been playing out the parallel pretty well, up until it was revealed to be all one big evil scheme, which has a deus ex machina solution. There is a point to simplifying a complex issue for kids, but there is also a line where the message is tainted by suggesting that the entire issue can be solved so easily. It irks me.

Anyway, apart from the social commentary stuff, the movie was good, but nothing really ‘wow’ worthy other than the animation, which was great. I also quite liked the world that they set up, creating explanations for how a gerbil and an elephant can coexist in the same society.

It was fun, I’d certainly recommend it, but perfect it ain’t.

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