Zootopia Review
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Disney Animation is probably best known for its princesses—and it’s definitely had overwhelming success with its latest princess movie, Frozen. But there’s so much more to the studio than fairy tales—and, to follow up their 2014 superhero adventure, Big Hero 6, Disney’s animators stick with action and mystery for Zootopia.

Zootopia takes place in a world where animals have evolved beyond their roles as predator and prey. Now they can coexist in peace in Zootopia, a bustling city where anyone can be anything they want. In Zootopia, a fluffy little rabbit like Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) can even pursue her lifelong dream of becoming the very first bunny cop. But when Judy is stuck with parking duty, she decides to step up and make a difference—even if it means teaming up with conniving fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to solve a series of crimes.

Disney Animation isn’t trying to be Pixar—so Zootopia isn’t trying to be the kind of moving, sophisticated drama that will make grown men shed real tears. It is, however, clever and imaginative and skillfully rendered. The animation is eye-catching, with the investigation taking characters through a variety of stunning natural habitats—from the shimmering ice of Tundratown to the lush jungles of the rainforest. The characters are a clever blend of animal and human—and the voice actors were perfectly cast.

The filmmakers clearly thought through the details, matching the animal characters to their real-world personalities (like the sly fox, the sloths who work for the DMV, or the perky, fluffy bunny whose big, burly coworkers just can’t take her seriously). And that attention to detail pays off—because the film works on multiple levels. For young viewers, it’s an action-packed movie with silly talking animals—but, thanks to an abundance of grown-up-targeted jokes, parents will be every bit as entertained as their kids.

The film has some great messages for kids, too—not only about believing in yourself and fighting for your dreams but also about seeing the best in others and accepting their differences. Admittedly, it does get a little bit preachy at times—and its insistence on getting its message about acceptance across slows down the pace for a while, too. But that’s really just a temporary pause in an otherwise delightful animated romp.

Talking animal movies for kids may be pretty common, but Disney keeps things fresh and clever and just plain fun with Zootopia. It’s the kind of animated adventure that you won’t mind taking the kids to see.

Blu-ray Review:
The best special features will give viewers a new appreciation for both the work and the thought process that went into the project. And that’s the kind of features that you’ll find on the Blu-ray release of Disney’s Zootopia.

The extras here show just how much thought the Disney Animation team put into getting everything just right. Research: A True-Life Adventure follows the team as they travel from Animal Kingdom in Orlando to the savannas of Africa to learn more about the different kinds of animals—and how their research inspired their developing story. The story is examined in even more depth in The Origin of an Animal Tale, which explores how the team crafted, modified, and transformed the story. And the three-part feature Zoology: The Round Tables focuses on the animation—from the challenges of animation a city full of furry animals to the scale and scope of the characters and their communities. If you’re a fan of frequent Disney composer Michael Giacchino and his scores, you’ll also want to check out Scoretopia.

There are other extras as well—some deleted characters and deleted scenes, Shakira’s music video for the upbeat and infectious song “Try Everything,” and ZPD Forensic Files, which shows some of the Easter Eggs and hidden Mickeys. Put them all together, and you’ve got a pretty impressive collection of special features—and after you watch them, you’re sure to love the film even more. There’s a lot of stuff here—around 90 minutes total—but they’re worth the time commitment.

Listen to the review on Reel Discovery:

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