I just came back from the cinema from watching Zootropolis, (as Zootopia is called in the UK). I am impressed.
Zootropolis presents us with a world in which animals forget their old enmities and live together in peace. Yet prejudice is still rife: it is tough for a bunny to do anything other than carrot farming, and it is unthinkable to trust a fox. The film’s heroine, a charismatic bunny called Judy Hopps is determined to overcome all obstacles in order to become a member of the police force. Meanwhile animals from the city are mysteriously going missing….
On a basic level, the city of Zootropolis is a me for modern Western society: a blend of cultures and of prejudices. Yet the film is not a sugary sweet allegory. The moralizing is done with considerable nuance. It is hard to map exact references to racial or religious prejudice in the real world. There are plot-twists after plot-twists which ensure not only that the viewers will be kept at the edges of their seats, but also that they will find hard to judge who discriminates who. I deliberately avoid explicit reference to the plot here, as I feel the surprise adds a great deal to the film.
So far my review has only focused on the didactic aspects of the movie. But that is perhaps misleading. Zootropolis is most of all funny. From simple ‘animals shouldn’t walk about naked’ jokes to the numerous Godfather’ references: Zootropolis pokes fun at most everything- including itself. Our heroine delivers a lecture on how only ‘a bunny can call another bunny cute’.
For me, another highlight of the film is Shakira’s guest appearance as a gazelle version of herself. She is not an overly obtrusive presence, but she adds charm to the ruthless Apple product placement throughout the film. All the police animals want themselves photoshopped into a video of a dancing Shakira-gazelle. All the cinema viewers will be humming along to her rendition of our bunny heroine’s favorite song– ‘Try everything’. Well, I won’t force you to ‘try everything’. But do give Zootropolis a try. It’s definitely worth it.