Movie: Zootopia

March 09, 2016

Movie afterthoughts on Disney's latest film, Zootopia.




Being the blur kid I was, I almost confused Zootopia with Zoolander. I'm... so sorry now.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT:
In a world of evolved mammals where predators and prey live together harmoniously, bunny cop Judy Hopps is assigned to work in the city 'Zootopia'. Together with slick fox boy Nick Wilde, they hit the road for a fast adventure of solving the mystery of missing mammals.



WARNING: Spoilers everywhere, as usual.

INTRODUCING...THE MAIN CHARACTERS


Judy Hopps. A wide-eyed bunny with big dreams of making the world a better place.

Judy defies bunny tradition of being a carrot farmer, just like her 200+ cousins/siblings. Instead, she trains to be a ZPD cop. She encounters tons of obstacles in her journey to achieve and keep her dream job.


Judy is voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin. (Remember her as Gigi in the movie He's Just Not That Into You? It was a very vivid performance for me.)

Mega props for a heroine that:
-Doesn't quit, and doesn't give up despite the odds.
-Apologizes and owns her mistakes
-Continues to love and trust despite setbacks

"In Zootopia, anybody can be anything."

Next, meet Nick Wilde, the jaded fox on the street.


 Nick is voiced by Jason Bates, whom I only remember acting in Juno (as the adopting parent of Juno's baby).


The characters reminded me a lot of Tangled! Remember Flynn and his smoulder?

Nick definitely has the smoulder down pat.


(Oh, the directors made Tangled and Wreck-It-Ralph too.)

Introducing some of the other characters because I loved their character designs!

The Mayor Lion- Loved the boss charisma and 'obama' feels.


Yax, the Yoga dude - aww come on. He's awesome. Both gross and fascinating at the same time. Seems like a really nice dude though!



I also liked Doug, The 'Dope' Ram: the van feels like what a meth lab could be like? Couldn't find a picture, oh well.

And as much as I enjoyed these animal characterisations..

I am also aware that I did enjoy them only because I had pre-existing stereotypes of people and occupations. We'll talk more about that later.

SCAPES
Beautiful! The world building in Zootopia was wonderful. If only we could spend more time in each 'district'.

My favourite scenes include the train ride. Ah, the sense of wonder.



The animation was very well done, not overly cute, and entirely believable to me. Loved the animals using phones and all. So relatable! The pop culture references are on point.

Also, the trip to the nudist den, drug lords, mafia and all. LOL.


I like how Disney isn't censoring itself and being overly-protective. These things are real, aren't they. And kids nowadays, it's not like they don't see any of these in other media. It's not like they only watch 'safe' cartoons. So maybe Disney was like, fuq it, let's show a grittier side in our animation. Well, good on you. It was well done and worked on different levels for both kids and adults.



Also, extra points for cute Easter eggs that delighted the audience.

MY THOUGHTS:

Zootopia tackles a lot of social issues, and you can see that it definitely tried its best. I applaud the good intentions behind this movie.

Mostly I think the message could be summed up in two words: Don't Judge.

Don't judge others, as a race, as a gender group, or based on their size/ traditional heritage etc... the list goes on. Lumping bad apples in a group and painting everyone with the same brush, can collectively be an ingrained habit that society will see being repeated over and over again. This is how we get deep seated prejudices, people. It starts with you.


I liked that the mammals were used to tackle prevalent social issues such as race, prejudice, bigotry etc in the film. It wasn't just some usual kids flick, and I appreciate that. In this sense the mammals were just representative vehicles for a larger message.

It's amazing how conversation about tricky social issues can be approached just by using more 'neutral' representatives like animals. Can't talk about a political situation? No problem. Four legs good, two legs better. (See: Animal Farm by George Orwell).

Why I think Zootopia is important

I have tutees and they are really impressionable. They form many of their perceptions from media and the world around them.

This sometimes results in singing risque lyrics, saying things like "the world's greatest, smartest people are men", and "boy can't be dancers, only girls can".  Yeah. Oh no :(


All that talk about role models in the media is real. Kids imitate. They see possibilities when they see someone like them, succeeding in some type of industry. It is then where they aspire to be like these visible public figures, to achieve what they have. When these people succeed, they're paving the way for future generations (I know this sounds so bull-shitty but it's real.)

Everyone can be a role model in a kid's life. A transgender pop star, a female world leader, the youngest astronaut, etc etc. The list goes on and on. Have you ever felt closer to a dream because someone was 'like you', and they made it? (Maybe they're from the same country as you are, maybe they're left-handed like you if you play sports, maybe they were from the same school ten years ago...etc)

It's so important.

Why? Because these people are living examples that they too, can do it. They are physical reminders of HOPE.

What's the importance of having dolls that wear traditional headgear, have hospital scars, physical disabilities, and Barbies that have traditionally 'male' jobs (Computing Engineering Barbies (and a Presidential Candidate one too) ?

It shows the kids that anything is possible. It's a move to help break glass ceilings, to break the cycle of prejudice. To help kids break out of the box of having to be a certain type of person with a certain type of job. He/she is no longer limited to being just a carrot farmer just because his entire species did it, he can be anything he wants.

With these seemingly little changes, even in mere toys, kids can then negotiate the world in a whole new different way. It can really change a life. It's time to acknowledge diversity, all types of it.

"Anybody can be anything."- one of the central messages in Zootopia. Sure, it could had been a reference to the American dream, but it has different layers to it too. A seemingly harmless person could be a devil in disguise. That sly looking guy could be the kindest person you've met. That nice girl from a 'good family', could be an underground gang leader. Who knows? Appearances can deceive. Don't judge.

Despite sending such a heavy message, the movie did not turn out to be overly-preachy. Major props to you, Disney, for tackling such a subject matter.

Let's move on to more light-hearted stuff.

OTHER TRIVIA

May I interrupt with a random QUESTION:

What do the predators eat, btw? Since they... can't eat prey anymore. Woah woah, insidious black market murder-for-meat story?



Well, we did see donuts, ice cream and vegetables.. but BBQ meat burger anyone?
Yeah. It's the kind of question that causes some doubt.  Like...what do wild Pokemon eat? Or worse, do humans eat pokemons? (A question for another time, hmm?)

DIFFERENT NEWSCASTERS DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU LIVE

Just like Inside Out where the food Riley ate different food, Disney changed the newscasters depending on where you live too.

Check it out.

Via: https://twitter.com/RyshatsCorner/status/706315676219146240/photo/1

CUTE NO?



Also check out Japan's movie poster! Uber cute. Savanna Thavasa LOL. DNK LOL. And even a Nike ad featuring a tiger! Don't forget the salarymen too.


Ain't it cute.
CONCEPT ART

And also, sharing with you some extra concept art by co-director Byron Howard.

Co-director Byron Howard draws Zootopia characters








WHAT I DID NOT DIG THO:

Shakira as Gazelle?
This is a minor gripe. I recognised Shakira's voice as she sang the opening theme song, but Gazelle's character design felt very much like Lady Gaga to me! The drama, theatrics, and also the things she says... ie."caring for the world" etc.



Also, 'CLAWS UP' in the last dance/song segment? Sounds like Gaga's 'PAWS UP' to me! (What she uses to get her fans, also known as her Little Monsters, to put their hands up.) Again, minor gripe. Was just feeling rather disoriented trying to pin Gazelle down as Shakira when she felt so Gaga to me.

Her backup dancers tho! Haha.



Minor gripe 2: Kind of an obvious mastermind?

Had a niggling feeling about who the mastermind was, but decided not to think too much about it and let the movie do its thang. Well what can I say... we all watch too many hero x villain movies and read too many Dan Brown books.

Also, I think the movie is really busy with everything it's trying to tackle, so there's less time to dwell on the beautiful scapes and characters.

VERDICT:
While I was (sorely) disappointed by Inside Out, I really enjoyed Zootopia.
You'll want to root for Judy right from the start. The audience also loved the cute comic sequences, especially the sloth scenes. My tutee even did the sloth face for me. The movie definitely entertains.



But what I liked most about Zootopia was its attempt to tackle a bigger social issue. Media, art, pop culture- it's a chance to reflect something, a chance to say something. Thank you for taking both your young and old audiences seriously, and presenting to us a wonderful movie with an important underlying social message.

Zootopia is a spark for conversation, a chance for society to reflect on bigger issues. Issues we don't really talk about, but really should.

Watch? Yes.

Need further impetus? The movie also has a cute couple you can #ship. I definitely do.


Yeah, watch it, then let me know what you think! Leave me a comment below :)


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