I have been hearing great things about Zootopia ever since its release but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to watch it. Months later having finally seen it, now I know how well placed those praises were. It is a smashing story disguised as another run of the mills animated fun and frolic flick. The story hits a core of the human nature and there are multiple takes to how we interpret the various elements of the story. While there is enough light moments to keep one and all happy, the film dwells deeper and deeper into the conflict between animals and their underlying nature, how we look at them and how we judge them based on their nature.
Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bunny who has dreamt of being a cop ever since she was a child. However the stereotypes tell her that she cannot be anything more than a carrot farmer. Judy shuns all misgivings and becomes a cop much to the surprise of one and all. She soon finds herself in Zootopia, a heaven where both predators and prey live in harmony. She is assigned a precinct and there to she has to put up with the stereotypes when she is not given proper police work but only traffic duty. It is at this moment that Zootopia is struck by a strange problem. Mammals are vanishing without a trace and after fourteen of them go missing, the police is forced to look into the matter more seriously.
Hopps literally forces her way on her superior to let her investigate the missing case of an otter. She is given forty eight hours to find the missing otter or resign. Desperate, Judy enlists the help of one Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) a con artist who had fooled her previously. Nick is blackmailed into helping her when she charges him with tax evasion. The two however gel and form an interesting group as they pursue the leads on the otter. Judy and Nick soon find the Otter and all the other missing mammals in a secret facility run by the Mayor of Zootopia himself. She brings this to the notice of the Police and the animals are rescued and the mayor arrested. The animals however show a strange violent trait and behavior which is inexplicable and everyone assumes that it is due to the alteration in their dormant genes of that of a predator.
This discovery doesn’t go well with the predators of Zootopia and even Nick breaks away from Judy sighting her discrimination of the predators as the reason. Most of the predators of Zootopia are looked upon with suspicion and a new mayor Bellwether (Jenny Slate) is appointed to take over from the previous mayor. Judy believes herself to be responsible for the plight of the innocent predators and returns back to her family resigning from the Police. It is while living with her family that she realizes that the predators going berserk was actually due to consumption of a substance known as the “Night Howler” and she bolts back to Zootopia to clear the air. She again requests Nick’s help on the matter who obliges gleefully. Soon the duo unmask the conspiracy of Bellwether who was at the helm of turning the predators out of control and unleashing them on the preys to have them sidelined and be able to become the mayor and be in power thanks to the votes of the prey who are 90% of the Zootopia population. She was the master mind right from the beginning.
The film raises a lot of important questions and answers them all successfully. The discrimination of different individuals based on their genesis, the belief that some people are fit for only a specific type of work, the hunger for power in all species irrespective of type and finally the fact that goodness and evil can be a character trait irrespective of individual types are all addressed with aplomb. The primary antagonist of the film is a sheep. The very decision to have a sheep be the face of evil is proof enough of the director’s mindset to show that evil can finds its way in any individual. Similarly the character of Nick Wilde is looked upon with doubt and suspicion from his childhood which literally transforms him into a con but in the company of Judy and enjoying her faith in him, he finds solace and his long lost good side. He becomes the face of justice.
The film uses a very simplistic storytelling style to convey its rather diverse and complex messages. The animation of the film is gorgeous. That’s something I have come to expect of Hollywood but not mentioning the animation will be a criminal oversight. The first view of Zootopia seen through the eyes of Judy, the night action sequence which can be called a chase sequence too, the rendering of each of the characters and the superb 3D quality makes this film visually enthralling. The voice talents are at the core of the drama and they work superb. It’s easy to pick out Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin owing to the big part that they play but smaller parts like that of Jenny Slate as Bellwether and Idris Elba as Chief Bogo are terrific. Slate gives hints of her dissatisfaction right from the beginning and upon re-watch one can easily find these clues which makes this film even more captivating. Bateman has terrific comic timing but he never overdoes his act. Goodwin is the heart and soul of Hopps and she really feels the character. It becomes evident in her voice modulations.
Zootopia is nearly a perfect film. There is nothing about it that will not capture your imagination. The film is gorgeously mounted and sensationally scored. It has a great story to tell and has terrific animation and voice overs. It will entertain you and enthrall you with its heartfelt tale and passionate execution. Watch it for sure if you haven’t already.
Rating : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)