Title: Zootopia

Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush 

Genre: Animation

Voices: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, and Shakira.

Disney can boast a new animation that will equally enthral children and adults. ‘Zootopia’ combines smart social commentary, in a time in which racism and prejudice are still looming, with valuable life lessons for youngsters who are pursuing their dreams. Last but not least the film’s detective story will hold you on the edge of your seat!

So what is Disney’s utopian-anthropomorphic-setting all about? ‘Zootopia’ is a mammal metropolis where various animals live and thrive, from the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, from the liveliest gazelle to the tardiest sloth.

When Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, she quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law. Determined to prove herself, Judy jumps at the opportunity to solve a mysterious case. Unfortunately, that means working with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a sly fox who is a most efficient con artist. Judy blackmails Nick into becoming her investigative partner when she finally gets hold of a case: the disappearance of Mr. Otterton, part of a rash of mammal abductions.

The vast range of settings in Zootopia is a challenge the animation and design teams — led by directors Byron Howard, Jared Bush and Rich Moore  — meet with unhinged inventiveness. And the casting of the two leads is truly effective: Goodwin (Judy) finds the perfect combination of ingenuousness and charisma, whilst Bateman (Nick) brings his trademark caustic dryness to the budding hero. The voice cast includes further outstanding performances by Idris Elba, as the imposing Chief Bogo, Nate Torrence as an easily distracted receptionist, Jenny Slate as the sheep-exploited-assistant-mayor, and Colombian pop idol Shakira playing Zootopia’s biggest music star, Gazelle.

Disney’s new movie is remarkable in depicting Judy’s crusade to be taken seriously as a cop. It is outstanding how she both embodies someone fighting preconceptions, but at the same time falls in the pit of ignorant preconceived ideas. This is epitomised the moment when predators and preys of the animal kingdom — who evolved to a stage of overcome fear and antagonism — are reverting the harmonious status quo. There is an explicable return to the savage state, and Judy jumps to the conclusion that biology may be causing it. Hence this exceptional animation movie, wittily tackles the debate to fight labels, xenophobia and chauvinism. The lesson we take back home is that chaos is the outcome of public opinion’s misinformation and superstition, which must be removed once and for all.

Technical: B

Acting: B+

Story: A+

Overall: A-

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Zootopia Movie Review
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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