Here’s a simple claim right off the bat – Zootopia is a triumph for Disney. The animation studio has had something of a resurgence in recent years with films such as Frozen and Big Hero 6, but Zootopia feels like an actual classic. That is high praise for the Mouse House, but the balance of humor, visuals and social commentary makes Zootopia a stupendous example of what great films can offer. With a billion dollars worldwide at the box office, it has rightfully become one of the biggest original films of all time and now it has a stunning Blu-ray for you to enjoy.
Following a fine cold open that introduces both the humor that can be found in the film, along with hints at darker elements, we settle down with our lead character, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin). She’s a rookie police officer in a world inhabited by anthropomorphized animals. Without being too specific, the story eventually evolves into a buddy cop film that partners up Officer Hopps with con artist Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman).
Not saying much about the plot does not suggest it’s a weak element, but a lot of joy comes from the discovery by the characters in the film. The story is actually quite intricate and it calls to mind Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit. That film was a masterful riff on Chinatown, whereas Zootopia plays like a procedural cop drama. There is a good mystery taking place and it feeds into exploring the world these characters inhabit.
And what a world it is. While Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph took a brilliant premise and somewhat limited it by sticking most of the film in just one setting, Zootpia happily reveals a variety of layers to how this world functions, given the variety of animals. It is all beautiful to take in, which nearly goes without saying, but the animation is wonderful. The visual gags are up to the challenge of entertaining and pressuring one to revisit the film, as Zootopia is stacked with broad and inside jokes all over, with plenty that you will likely miss the first time around.
The vocal cast is certainly a huge part of what makes this film work as well. Goodwin makes for a great rookie presence in this world we are introduced to. Her optimistic handling of the material, balanced by an understanding of her backstory plays well in how her character evolves. The same can be said with her partner in crime, Bateman, who brings a careful amount of depth that is typical for roles inhabited by him. Suffice it to say, Bateman is as good as ever at tossing off humorous deadpan lines and backing it with a rich layer of humanity (even while voicing a fox).
It would be all well and good if things stopped there, with Zootopia functioning as a well-made animated comedy, with little else on its mind, but it doesn’t. The layered and insightful social commentary, particularly in regards to race relations is an incredibly bold push that I am happy writers/directors Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush made the decision to include. Obviously a younger audience will be less aware of what is going on beneath the surface, but for those looking to dig a little deeper, Zootopia is not tough to read into.
Much like Mad Max: Fury Road’s ability to be more than just an action film by incorporating thematic elements such as survival, redemption, climate change, class-based societal upheaval and female empowerment, Zootopia has far more on its mind than just being a goofy kids flick. A running idea of the film involves the relationship between predators and prey. The world features the animals living in harmony, but there is a potent story that unfolds, based on the dynamic that forms between these different species, revealing true intentions and a complicated understanding of this supposed status quo.
It is honestly refreshing and unafraid to take the characters to places that have been explored just as well as heavy dramas that qualify as award contenders. Zootopia literally goes for the jugular in the way it explores what it means to watch righteous anger playout through cleverly animated segments of one character saying or doing hurtful things to another, based on what kind of species they are. I may not have thought this film would be comparable to something like Straight Outta Compton, going in, but there was an easy case to be made afterward.
All of this stands true and the film is still a blast to watch. Make no mistake, no one is sitting you down to teach you a lesson about racial politics through an episode of Law & Order: Walking Animals Unit, Zootopia is a terrific comedy. It happens to explore some wonderful ideas, but it is a terrific balance of characters, story, humor and more. And by the way, you get greats like Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Jennie Slate, Bonnie Hunt and more all adding to the proceedings.
Given all the innovation Disney has provided over the decades, it is great to see them churn out a film that can stand as highly as some of their most well-known classics from the early days. Zootopia is fantastic in nearly every way and earns plenty of admiration for having something to say.
Zootopia looks fantastic on Blu-ray. I expected as much, since what Disney lacks in extras they make up for in technical presentation, but the film really does look terrific. Working with a 1080p AVC-encode, you have an animated feature that has so much to offer in terms of the use of color, the environmental textures and the black levels. With all the visual gags, you can really get a kick out of pausing this film to admire both the beauty of the animation and catch all that is going on in the various backgrounds seen. There are no issues to be found, this is just a great-looking Blu-ray.
Much like the video presentation, the audio is terrific. The Blu-ray arrives with a DTS-HD 7.1 lossless soundtrack and it is just terrific. Much like Disney’s Marvel movies, this is a film that allows for plenty to enjoy from an auditory standpoint. There is a lot of quick-paced dialogue and it is all loud and clear. Plenty of action takes place and you get to enjoy all the little details that accompany the wonderful score. The film’s atmosphere pulls you in, given all the animal sound effects and other details. The LFE channel has plenty to do. It’s an incredibly detailed sound mix that is given perfect justice here on Blu-ray.
Zootopia lacks a commentary track, which is a shame, but you do get plenty of featurettes that delve into many aspects of the production and where this film came from.
- Deleted Scenes
- Deleted Characters
- Research: A True-Life Adventure – The filmmakers head out to see actual animals for research.
- The Origin of an Animal Tale – The filmmakers get into where this story came from, the characters and more.
- Zoology: The Round Trables – A three-part feature detailing the characters, environments and animation.
- Scoretopia – A look at the making of the film’s music.
- Z.P.D. Forensic Files – A recap of many of the film’s Disney-related easter eggs.
- Music Video – “Try Everything” by Shakira
- DVD Copy of the Film
- Digital HD Copy of the Film
Zootopia is easily one of the best films of the year and should be enjoyed by all. The Blu-ray delivers a spectacular video and audio presentation. You also get plenty of features to enjoy as well. It’s a great package all around.