Animated movies like to take things that are not highly intelligent and suppose that they were: toys in Toy Story, fish in Finding Nemo, video game characters in Wreck It Ralph, and now the animal kingdom in Zootopia. Its a neat premise and there’s quite a bit of fun in exploring it.
Zootopia runs with the conceit that animals have naturally evolved to be anthropomorphic, much like humans (though no mention of humans exists in this movie). They have built cities and home s and social morals. Yet because there are so many species, discrimination and stereotyping still exists. More specifically, there is a definite racial divide between predators and prey.
Anchoring this movie are the protagonists Judy Hops, a bunny who begins her police career, and Nick Wilde, a con artist fox. They are interesting characters and have good chemistry. The story involves them solving a crime where animals are turning feral again, causing more racial divides. Its pretty heavy with the symbolism, but that’s okay, messages dont always have to be subtle, especially in a family movie. Sometimes I wonder what they are trying to say about discrimination other than its bad. At times they seem to be going deeper with it, likethe idea of self-fulfilling prophecies (i.e. a fox acts sly because people always think he is anyways), at others its unclear (is it good that animals have their own specific traits, or not?)
But on a more surface level, there’s a lot of fun sequences and lots of visual eye candy. For example, there’s a chase scene in “rodent town” where all the buildings are tiny, and Judy has try not to crush everything during her pursuit. And of course the sloths at the DMV is an obvious joke but a good one. There’s lots of stuff like that that I appreciate.
Zootopia is a world that could easily be explored further, and I have a feeling it will be. I am looking forward to it.