Now Showing: Zootopia

Bernard Chen , Sports Editor

Disney has done it yet again. With state-of-the-art animation, “Zootopia” has hopped into theaters and the hearts of millions, hitting a record breaking $70.5 million opening weekend, beating out Disney’s popular film “Frozen” from 2013. Directed by Disney Animation veterans, Byron Howard and Rich Moore, the animated film presents genuinely flawed, yet lovable characters, in an urban world that closely mimics our own, with a heartfelt underlying subtext.

Set in the “urban jungle” of Zootopia, where mammals live together in civilized harmony, predator and prey seemingly overcome their differences in an anthropomorphic world. Bright eyed and bushy tailed Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is an aspiring police officer, despite being a rabbit, as opposed to the much larger mammals of the Zootopia Police Department. Memories of her family carrot farm are left behind as Hopps embarks on an adventure to break down stereotypes and push past criticism by other animals.

Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a sly and cunning fox modeled after the famous Robin Hood from Disney’s animated classic in 1973, soon joins Hopps to solve an epidemic of missing mammal cases, leading to a family-friendly interpretation of a Hollywood film noir.

I have to say, the plot was masterfully put together, ripe with genuine twists and turns. The film had me on the edge of my seat for the majority of the 108 minute runtime, leaving me to wonder who the mastermind behind the missing mammal cases was. It’s a well-paced blend of suspense with comedic lines strewn in the perfect places and I found it increasingly similar to popular crime dramas like “L.A. Confidential” as the story progressed.

While Disney has gone down this path before, with “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 1988, “Zootopia” strays from the classic princess movies that consist only of mushy emotions and catchy soundtracks, building a surprisingly clever piece of ingenuity.

And while the plot was well thought out, the imagination behind Zootopia took the movie to new heights. Starting with the technique itself, the work put into animating each individual hair of the nine million on the giraffe and more on every other animal creates an unprecedented crisp and clean experience. The very idea of the city, cleverly split into sectors where a range of animals can survive, from the frigid Tundratown and gritty Sahara Square, to the urban downtown area, paints a fun world teeming with creativity.

Don’t forget the unforgettable main character development either. From a small town farming family to a big city police officer, Hopps’ character matures throughout the entirety of the film and though Wilde and Hopps are hugely flawed on their own, “Zootopia” builds them into the loveable and ever-so-relatable personalities.

However, the supporting characters do leave a little something to be desired. As most of the film is focused on Hopps and Wilde, we see little development in supporting characters like Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) of the ZPD or even Mayor Lionheart (J.K. Simmons), and most are there only to add a few lines of comedic relief.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the film is its strong underlying theme, perfect in an uncomfortable reality of stereotypes and injustice. Hopps, armed with fox repellent, is forced to reevaluate her view of predators as Wilde initially conforms to the shifty and deceitful stereotype of foxes.

“Zootopia” provides a timely message that “anyone can be anything,” and leads viewers on a journey to a world where predator and prey attempt to overcome stereotypes and come to terms with their differences.

The film provides just enough of everything for people of all ages, tackling tough issues in a family-friendly way. It’s difficult to dislike a Disney animated film and “Zootopia” is no exception, as it is sure to leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling.