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Titanium Dragon


TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

More Blog Posts587

Apr
15th
2016

Zootopia · 1:10am Apr 15th, 2016

Zootopia
by Walt Disney Animation Studios

Crime, Drama
108 minutes

Judy Hopps is an adorable rabbit (cute is a bunny word) who wants to grow up, move to the big, diverse city of Zootopia, and be a police officer there. Turns out, though, that no matter what they say in school about overcoming prejudice, everyone in Zootopia is not linking hands and singing Kumbaya. In a complex world full of prejudice and discrimination, the newest officer on the force has 48 hours to solve a missing persons case while her superior officers work on more important things.

With the help of Nick Wilde, a fox who plays with her head and her prejudices, she must figure out what happened, and why a happily family man suddenly disappeared from the face of Zootopia.

Starring Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps, Jason Bateman as Nick Wilde, with a guest appearance by Shakira as her fursona.

Why I watched it: I am an incorrigible furry and Disney fan.

Review
Before and above all else, this movie was entertaining. The world of Zootopia is a very visually interesting place, bursting at the seams with character. The world has people of all shapes and sizes, from tiny little mice to gigantic rhinos, elephants, and giraffes, with a broad diversity of ecosystems inside the city ranging from an arctic town to a tropical rainforest, all supported with the power of modern-day technology, Zootopia is a fun place to be. The people of the world are prejudiced against each other in both overt and subversive ways.

The movie plays with multiple different axes of prejudice. There is a predators vs prey species set of prejudices due to historical tensions between the two groups, but on top of that, there’s also a big species vs small species tension, with the larger species often both literally and figuratively looking down on the shorter ones, and enjoying a position of physical power over them. It also features species-specific prejudices, which are played straight as often as they’re subverted. In particular, Nick Wilde, Judy Hopps’ fox sidekick, deliberately plays with Judy’s prejudices.

What is most interesting about this world is that the bigotry isn’t one-sided. It is very easy to tell a story about how members of an oppressed social group are looked down on, but this movie doesn’t take the easy way out. We’re deliberately set up to feel like the prey species are discriminated against towards the beginning, but as we move through the movie it quickly becomes evident that things are far more complicated than that. We see a police department crowded with prey, but they look down on (literally) little people. We see Judy, herself often a target of prejudice, be prejudiced herself. And unusually for such movies, we also see prejudiced characters being correct in their prejudice at times, illustrating why people hold such prejudiced views in the first place, and why prejudice is wrong even when it is often right. We even see people deliberately obscuring crimes by a minority population in order to avoid the general population lashing out against said minority population, and the Morton’s Fork of addressing the problem publicly.

The movie itself is, at its core, a newbie minority police officer being discouraged, then forced to work an obscure, minor dead-end case, forced to team up with someone they personally dislike (and are prejudiced against) in order to solve the case. But it does a good job with this plot, and as we go through it, we see both characters both reveal more of themselves and develop. Unlike a lot of movies which pair up a boy and a girl, there’s no romantic tension here, with it being played like a standard misfit buddies movie. The central plot skeleton isn’t anything super special, but it has so much hung off of it that it becomes fun rather than preachy, and the characters are reasonably deep and interesting. The movie focuses most heavily on Judy, but Nick gets a good bit of characterization as well, and by keeping the focus tight on these characters, with a few peripheral characters (the mayor, the assistant mayor, and the police chief), they managed to do a good bit of development and also unwrap the complexities of the characters a bit. All of them have some depth and complexity to them, but Judy and Nick really epitomize it with both their internal and external struggles with bigotry.

The two protagonists play off of each other well, and the way they play off of each other – and our view of both Judy’s background, and where her own prejudices come from – really makes us sympathize well with them. They’re both good people, but both are flawed in their own ways, and their flaws both make them interesting as well as humanize them. Judy is a very well-developed character in particular, and probably the best-developed female character Disney has ever put in one of their movies. She’s really an illustration of how to properly write such characters – namely, by writing them as people.

I also liked that the movie didn’t end up shipping them – most movies like this seem to want to ship their protagonists, but here, that didn’t happen. Of course, I’m pretty sure that the fandom is going to ship the characters like Fed Ex, but that’s sort of inevitable.

For all that I liked this movie, though, it isn’t perfect. The movie certainly has some plot holes – in particular, one critical plot point (a specific character’s knowledge of basically the crux of the movie) is completely unexplained, and the central crime mystery of the movie is undermined in the process. This is actually somewhat annoying, as the movie sets up a lot of Chekov’s guns (and brick jokes) throughout the movie for just about everything else, and as such, seeing such a major plot point end up not making any sense at all in retrospect created a great deal of Fridge Logic on my drive home. The identity of one of the villains was also unnecessarily a character we’d never seen before, which was unfortunate, because there was a perfect bit character set up in a previous scene to be that person.

I also feel like the movie didn’t do quite enough to subvert its own themes – in the second half of the movie, after the central crime is halfway solved, the movie works to subvert some of its own ideas. It is obvious, looking at the society, that as racist as people are, they also aren’t as racist as they pretend like they are at times – that people are aware of the bigotry of their own society and that a lot of people already have subverted it pretty thoroughly. While Nick undermining one of the central lines of prejudice in the movie works well, and the identities of a few characters in the second half of the character are intentional inversions of the prejudices that we’ve seen the characters cling to throughout the film, I don’t feel like it did quite as much as it might have to subvert its own internal prejudices. I think it is a hard job to simultaneously establish and undermine prejudices, and the movie at times felt like it tripped over itself a bit in this regard. That said, it is a hard thing to do well, so I’m not sure if I can really blame it.

All in all, this was a very entertaining movie. I can’t say that it was the best thing I’ve ever seen, but it was a lot of fun to watch, and I think it was probably Disney’s best movie since The Princess and the Frog, if not since Lilo & Stitch. I’m pretty sure that the furry fandom is going to adore it, and given right now it is sitting at #3 highest grossing Disney Feature Animated Film (behind only Frozen and The Lion King), the general public loves it as well.

Recommendation: Recommended.


Just remember, cute is their word.


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Comments ( 37 )
Wanderer D
Moderator

It made my furry inside very happy.

ive seen it once and id watch it again

I think this movie mostly intrigued me because the protagonist is A) female, and B) a police officer. Two things that are somewhat uncommon in big budget film, and even more uncommon together.

Haven't watched it yet, but good review.

Aside: if you want a serious, well-written look at racism that uses anthropomorphic animal species as stand-ins for racial groups, I recommend reading Blacksad.

I went to see this movie with some friends of ours who had a child the 'right' age for the show. I kept breaking out in suppressed laughter. It was wonderful. We will own the DVD. And the soundtrack. (Snerk! Her father's name is Stu.)

3871215
re:Blacksad

I assume you're refering to 'Arctic Nation'. I have literally just today (well, technically yesterday now) received from Amazon, and read, the omnibus edition of the the first three albums 'Somewhere Within the Shadows', 'Arctic Nation' and 'Red Soul'.

'Red Soul', as far as I'm aware is not available in english outside of this omnibus edition, which is unfortunate as (IMO) it is the best arc (though I have yet to read 'A Silent Hell' or 'Amarillo') though on reflection 'Arctic Nation' is it's equal.

Also Zootopia (or, Zootropolis as it is here, god knows why) may compel me to visit a cinema for the first time in 21 years.

Now I think about it, 'Arctic Nation' was epic, and should be taught in schools.

Could you be more specific about your criticisms for the movie in spoiler text? I think I know most of the things you're referring to (and I agree with them), but it'd be nice to be sure.

You know, at first I wondered why you put this up here, since it's got nothing to do with ponies.

Then I realized, it's a fantastic movie, advertise everywhere!

3871499
Well, the Plot Hole is fairly straightforward - how did the otter know about the night howlers? He mentions them, the panther repeats it, and it is critical to the plot, but there's no reason at all for him to know about it - or at least none I saw. The movie never explains how he knew/found out, or how they found out he knew. I suspect from him wearing glasses that he was a scientist or doctor or something, but I think they might have inadvertently cut how he knew about it.

As for the rest of it - I just felt like the movie didn't do enough to subvert the stereotypes at the end of the movie. Some of it worked - they had the sheep be the ultimate bad guys, showed that smallish prey could be thugs too, they had the fox who had been a bully as a kid grow up, and of course Nick outright admits to deliberately playing up the sly fox thing to mess with people - but I didn't feel like it was... I dunno, explicit enough in some ways? I dunno, it didn't really feel like it did enough to undermine/subvert some of it at the end, as it was pretty clear from the behavior of the characters in the movie that dealing with discrimination is hardly unique to this particular group of people. Though the brick joke with the sloth - and the way he got his nickname from Nick - was deeply amusing.

3871519
Horizon thought it would be worth mentioning and seeing if it sparked a discussion.

Also, not EVERYTHING has to be pony related. This was at least story related.

Also also, everyone here is already a terrible furry anyway, seeing as we're all fans of anthropomorphic animal characters (though ponies are much less anthropomorphic than most anthropomorphized animals).

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :trixieshiftright:

I thought Zootopia was fantastic. It was my oldest daughter's first trip to the movie theater to boot. My only complaint is that the world doesn't feel as… complete as settings like Equestria. What I mean is little things like this:
- maintaining such vastly different climates in close proximity sounds like a major engineering challenge, one that would probably require horrific amounts of power, even when things like physical windbreaks and the like are factored in. I want a climatologist to weigh in here
- since prey animals are no longer… prey, but still seem to reproduce at rates geared to being hunted (ie the ever-growing population of Judy's home town), I can't shake the feeling that their world is in a wildly unsustainable population boom.
To be fair, this is a one-off movie that doesn't need to answer these sorts of sustainability questions… but I'm a storyteller and an engineer. I lay awake at night thinking about this kind of stuff.

3871537
He knew about them because he's a florist (for the mob, but still…)

This is also:

I'm fairly sure, the first Disney animated film where a character tells an unmistakable sex joke. And I thought the strippers in Great Mouse Detective were risque! :raritywink:

Mike

3871634
Well, The Lion King had a sex scene. Or at least, a heavily implied "they're about to get it on" scene. The directors even joked in the creator commentary about how it was the sauciest sex scene in any Disney movie, and it was between lions. :trixieshiftright:

Also, apparently the Chinese are complaining about how the movie is propaganda because sheep are never bad guys! I'm not even kidding.

It is also apparently corrupting the youth:

The film’s characters have also generated buzz online in China. Images and short videos of Flash, one of the sloths working in the film’s Department of Mammal Vehicles, have become a favorite among users of China’s social messaging platforms. Nick, the red fox in the film, has dethroned some fresh-faced South Korean actors to win the title of “the boyfriend I want to have” for many Chinese fans.

Our secret, evil plan to turn the Chinese into a bunch of furries is finally coming to fruition.

So, uh, what was the next step in the plan?

3871629
Ah, right!

That's a bit... subtle. Jeez.

3871621
Yeah, admittedly the joke about how many brothers and sisters she had (and the ridiculous population of Bunnyburrow) actually bothered me a bit, because while it was a mildly funny joke, it actually was a bit immersion-breaking because that would have major social consequences and the family we saw wasn't THAT large.

3871692 I'm more bothered by the question of whatever happened to the reptiles and birds. We know they eat fish; judy's train into the city passes a fish market, but beyond that...?

3871714
The premise of the movie is that only mammals are intelligent, just like how IRL, only humans are. They actually mention this a few times, including in the first teaser trailer:

The movie is set in a city, and the countryside place was run by a bunch of vegetarians, so we didn't see any livestock. It probably would have just been a distraction anyway. The movie was probably questionable on its complexity front already.

3871634
3871200

Howard pitched the film to Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter five years ago, on the hopes of working on a movie like one of his favorites, the 1973 Disney animated version of "Robin Hood," but using the tools of modern computer animation.

"[Lasseter] said, 'I will fully support any movie that has animals running around in tiny clothes,'" Howard said. "He hugged me and picked me up and carried me around. He was very enthusiastic."

The creative process at Disney, ladies and gentlemen.

Zootopia was distractingly on-the-nose for me. I felt a bit like I was being whapped by the Rubber Chicken of Social Commentary the entire time. Also I have no idea why the "sloth" scene is so much of a money shot for this movie. Get it? Because they're slow! Now let's talk about airline food! Are those portions small or what? Also, Gazelle/Giselle was a wholly pointless character for all her buildup. I wish they'd have done either more or less with her.

I very much enjoyed the film, partially because I am a sucker for artificially-maintained biomes and exotically-diverse societies. Also the performances were just swell, and Judy is appealing as all fsck. This was the problem the filmmakers had; it was supposed to be straight-up about Nick facing prejudice in the big city (early animatics even show Nick riding the bullet train into the city rather than Judy) but all the test audiences were like "I want more of the bunny!"

Also the incredibly dark universe point involving constant wearing of shock-collars was dropped, thank goodness.

3871744
I agree that the movie probably never wanted us to ever be confused, even for a moment, about whether or not a given creature was culturally-sapient or not, but I would nonetheless have loved to have seen an ostrich ranch or something. :pinkiesmile:

3871781
The 2014 conception of the film was basically a completely different movie. I was reading about it, and they got rid of the entire plot and did something else entirely.

Which was a good choice, really. It was bizarrely Orwellian and dystopian.

But you know, for the kids. :trixieshiftright:

Zootopia was distractingly on-the-nose for me. I felt a bit like I was being whapped by the Rubber Chicken of Social Commentary the entire time.

I thought that the movie handled it in a surprisingly mature (and shades of gray) way; it is actually kind of fascinating reading a bunch of reviews and seeing people map particular real-world conflicts onto the characters which actually don't really fit. The movie isn't actually an analogy for any particular real-life conflict; none of them quite fit. It is really meant to be about discrimination in general rather than any particular form of it; you can even map non-racial conflicts like classism onto the movie.

I can see how some might have felt a bit fatigued by the message, though. Because yeah, it was pretty unrelenting. The movie took the idea and ran with it.

Mostly I was so excited coming out of that movie because, while it's not perfect and perhaps a bit heavy-handed for an adult viewer, I feel like it's really great messaging for the target audience. It puts racism into easily comprehendable buckets—predators and prey, big animals and little animals—and it shows overt racism and subtle racism, and that it's bidirectional. A little kid is just going to see a movie with cute adorable animals in it, and only a few years later are they going to start to understand more complex racial issues, and innately start to understand "oh, this was like this scene with Nick." Between stuff like Zootopia, Inside Out, and MLP episodes like Tanks For The Memories, I'm really happy that this generation of parents and kids have a toolkit full of positive, well-thought media that they can turn to. Not as a replacement for good parenting, of course, but it's way easier for a parent to draw the parallels for their kid between real life and a movie, versus the parent having to explain racial tensions without any context or lead-in.

Of course, I’m pretty sure that the fandom is going to ship the characters like Fed Ex

As if you expected otherwise of me.
orig12.deviantart.net/67a1/f/2016/063/4/5/concentrate_on_working__mr_wilde_by_erica693992-d9tvvo6.png
But yes, while I appreciate that shipping fuel was present, I'm overall quite happy that they are clearly just friends canonically, and that this pairing is just the product of my filthy mind.

I’m pretty sure that the furry fandom is going to adore it

idk wut ur talkin abut
lh3.googleusercontent.com/lD1igP-cfKAqyQVJBzgZA9gD7Hn3GUJy7q8-YCLpT7OdXhAb846NCP8Fy3OjL2dSUpWT

The line which hit me hardest in this American election year: "Fear always works!"

I'm half-convinced the only reason a number of people aren't attacking the film for that is because they've somehow told themselves the sentence was referring to what everyone else is doing.

3872563
Why would they attack it? The character is villainous, and the people who actually can be played with fear don't recognize themselves as such.

3872600

In that those attacking with fear are either refusing to see themselves in the line or instantly deflect at the moment anyone accuses them of using that tactic. So surely the movie isn't targeting their own works -- and if it is? Better not bring it up, just in case anyone else figures it out. Besides, it's probably just talking about what the other side does...

3872618
I dunno, really. Of the campaigns this year, Trump seems to be the big fearmongerer. The others don't seem to be so big on it, really.

That's not to say that there aren't a lot of fearful people, mind. Just that fear doesn't seem like it is a huge campaign strategy this year. This seems to be the year of anger and jealousy.

3871537
I was wondering what that plot hole you're talking about was. I know the little detai the ties it together I think. Uh dammit how do you spoiler out words? Dunno. Don't have time. At work. Blargh. Just don't look past here if you don't want spoilers.

The otter is the artic shrew's flowerist. Since he knows about flowers, I assumed he already knows a fair bit about different plants, including Night Howlers. I assumed he was able to identify them due to the smell when the drug splashed on him. There would've been fumes, I guess?

As for the panther, he was repeating what the otter was saying. Had no idea what the otter was on about.

Yeah, it's that little detail which ties the otter and the shrew together that clears up that plot hole I think?

3871781

The sloth scene:

In addition to containing the aforementioned first-ever sex joke in a Disney cartoon, is also either a loving homage to or a blatant rip-off of the classic Bob & Ray routine, "Slow Talkers of America."

3872897
Thanks for the added intel!

3872897
Wait, what was the sex joke?

I thought you were referring to Judy's off-hand remark that "rabbits are good at multiplying" while talking about Nick's back taxes.

3872897
3872907
Huh? The three humped camel is the sex joke?

I thought it was the steadily increasing population counter of Bunnyville or Carrot Acres or whatever Judy's hometown was called.

Or maybe it was Mr. Big's daughter who was pregnant? There's a fair bit of references to sex, or at least pregnancy and babies. Actually the Naturalist nudist resort could be taken as one giant sex gag. I guess animals don't have genitalia or Foamy's headcannon about ponies having glamers over their privates so they seem blank extends to like the Disney universe too.

3872931

Isn't the verb "to hump":

Used as a euphemism for sex anymore?

Mike, Wondering Now if He's Too Filthy-Minded to Watch Cartoons

3872941
*bored face s l o w l y m o r p h s t o highly amused*

Ha!

Ha!

HA!

That is absitavely dirty. That takes the joke to a whole new level of lewd. Three humps. Three. Now, is that an indicator of how fast or how skilful camels are? :trollestia:

Oh, random tidbit. The gal who voices Pricilla, the sloth Flash tells the joke to, is the same actress who voices Anna from Frozen.

3872956

I just took it to mean:

That a camel has two humps. If she then gets a third hump, she's likely to end up pregnant. It's just biology, right? :twilightblush:

Mike Again

3872975
3872941
You have a dirty mind :rainbowwild:

I asked the JokeExplainerBot to explain the joke:

A dromedary camel has one hump. A bactrian camel has two humps. A three humped camel seems to imply that there is a third type of camel. However, the third hump is on the camel's belly because she is pregnant. The unexpected subversion of the third hump not being a hump on the camel's back but on its belly changes the implied meaning of the question, thereby surprising the reader and making them laugh.

Thanks JokeExplainerBot.

To him, jokes are like Jesus; they die for our sins.

I shall continue:

To maintain even in the face of conglomerating evidence that my interpretation of the joke nonetheless fulfills all the requirements to make it a proper humorous expression.

If that's OK with ev'ryone, I mean... :fluttershyouch:

MikeBot

3873140
It's okay, we still love you. :heart:

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