List Item: Watch The Disney Animated Canon
Progress: 55/58Title: Zootopia
Given that they skipped releasing anything in the previous year, 2016 was one of the rare times that has two entries in the Disney Animated Canon. Both are excellent films within the canon but, personally, Zootopia (or Zootropolis as it was called in the UK) is the better of the two. In fact, Zootopia is one of my favourite films in the entire list – so this was something that really helped my post-South Korea adjustment all the easier.
I first saw Zootopia in the cinema, back when I was on the tail-end of my wrist injury recovery. It’s the first Disney animated release that I’ve been excited to see in the cinema since I was a small child and, thankfully, this actually delivered (unlike Hercules). Might have also helped that, given its take on discrimination, it managed to really capture the political feelings of early 2016 despite production starting before a lot of the political shit hit the fan.
The big thing that Zootopia succeeded in, that most Disney films didn’t actually attempt to do, is to construct a living breathing world. The city of Zootopia itself, as well as the surrounding areas, are not only beautiful to look at but are full of character and are rich enough to warrant further exploration. Also, thanks to the Pixar influence, each distinct area is very distinct and full of Easter eggs that reward multiple watches.
All this is done with minimal, and ultimately enjoyable, exposition that also brings in the central predator-prey conflict that lays in the film’s core relationship between rabbit-cop Judy Hopps and fox con man Nick Wilde. It’s a clever way to depict something very adult like racial discrimination in a way that can be taken in by young children. Moments of intolerance, like Nick touching the sheep deputy mayor’s hair and Judy’s ‘speciesist’ press conference, are clever ways to make a fable-friendly version of things that would otherwise be too adult for a family film.
Within this wider message of tolerance and, ultimately, acceptance – Zootopia is able to construct a well-made detective story. Unlike the reveal in Frozen that seemingly comes out of nowhere, the final confrontation is well-earned. The clues and the motivations are all there and, upon repeat viewings, it’s brilliant to see how everything is foreshadowed from very early on. This (like the Breaking Bad references that happen near the end) is what turns this into a proper family film rather than a children’s film with a few adult-friendly joked attached.
Unlike the final two films in the canon (as it stands right now) Zootopia feels like a franchise that really would work well with some sequels. In this way, we can explore areas of this world that we never got to see and it would be interesting to see how they would handle similar topics now that we are coming to the end of Trump’s first year as president. Also, given the amount of bootleg Zootopia merchandise I saw being sold in South Korean markets, there is clearly a lot of money still to be made from these characters.
Whilst I do prefer Zootopia of the two 2016 entries in the canon, that’s no slight on Moana. In fact, it’s actually really cool to have one year demonstrating the more Pixar-influenced films and the those more influenced by classic Disney. It’ll nice to actually see Moana on a proper TV and not on a plane, maybe that means I’ll enjoy watching it even more.