For an overlooked but explicitly apparent fact, Disney princesses used to speak minimal lines in animated films that, in fact, revolved around them. Disney has been effecting noticeable change in its silver screen stories as of late, which has seen female leads like Snow White metamorphosise from dainty maidens waiting upon the heroics of men, into confident stalwarts like Elsa (of “Frozen”), who tap on inner bravery to save themselves.
The Disney revolution is continued by Judy Hopps, a pint-sized bunny who kicks off Zootopia by persevering out of her predetermined country bumpkin destiny, to become the first rabbit police officer of Zootopia.
Zootopia wields all the staples of a modern-day Disney animated movie: breathtaking and meticulous CGI landscapes created by man-hours of monumental proportions, cavalcades of cutesy-ness, and a tear-jerking ending. However, it also brandishes more compelling aspects, such as in-depth characterisation and the exploration of discrimination, racial stereotypes, and politics.
Zootopia broaches topics like fear and radicalism, which are especially relevant today, as well as current affairs talking points like the influence of the media, in a gentle manner understood by a child, while making fun of modern society touchpoints like Apple technology and Marlon Brando along the way. Smart twists in the story ask the viewer, “who’s to say who is good and who is bad in society?” The animated flick imparts timeless nuggets of wisdom, like how solutions take time, even in our age of immediacy.
Disney makes a clear statement with Zootopia that it desires to be a progressive storyteller, and that the media titan is not afraid to make fun of itself, while staying true to its family-oriented roots.
Yes, Disney’s “I won’t give up on my dreams” narrative is repeated in Zootopia, but has updated itself. I didn’t use to be fond of bringing my nephews and nieces to watch kids films, because these films rarely were one-size-fits-all. They say our deepest ingrained values were imparted to us through stories in our childhood. With this modern telling of Animal Farm, Disney hits that nail on the head, and never for moment had me wanting its captivating story to end.
Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, co-directed by Jared Bush
Running time: 108 minutes
Rating: 4/5 stars