Disney's Zootopia Blu-ray Review
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
In the animal city of Zootopia, Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) teams up with a devious fox (voice of Jason Bateman) to solve a mystery targeting the city’s predator animals.
Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore.
Disney’s Zootopia was a box office smash when it was released in March, delivering a story of acceptance, understanding and determination wrapped inside a buddy-cop movie. It’s great fun, and a bit more mature than one might expect. Set in a city where predators and prey live together in harmony, bunny cop Judy Hopps (in a bubbly performance by Gennifer Goodwin) is faced with animals going primal and attacking each other. With the help of a con-artist fox named Nick Wilde (played with slick aplomb by Jason Bateman), Judy takes on the case to unravel the mystery.
Disney returns to the concept of using animals instead of humans to tell a story, something that harkens back to their Robin Hood era of the early 1970s. Like Robin Hood before it, Zootopia delivers some endearing characters and an entertaining story; the two share a kindred soul.
The animal city of Zootopia provides plenty of opportunities for visual gags and cute critters that kids will enjoy, but the screenplay (by Jared Bush and Phil Johnston) is a bit more serious and carries an important message about how we should perceive and treat others. While this dichotomy is largely entertaining, it does drag down the tone of the film at times.
The film sometimes loses its way when it tries too hard to bring its message home. It’s an important moral at the heart of this story, but the delivery is often too heavy-handed, and it comes across like a parent lecturing a kid about how they should treat others. Disney films are notorious for mixing darker, serious tones with their light-hearted themes, and Zootopia is no different. It just needed more laughs to make the tone lighter. Younger kids may not find the whole “treat everyone equally” theme interesting, and may find some parts tedious at times.
Some have taken issue with the themes of the film, calling it too politically correct or even subversive. Those criticisms, although sometimes valid, do not apply here. There’s no cultural agenda at play, only a focus on the importance of treating others how one would like to be treated. There’s nothing wrong with reinforcing the Golden Rule, in my mind.
Zootopia is aimed squarely at older kids, and the message it conveys is one that age set needs to hear. Parents will be equally entertained with the snappy dialogue, and there are plenty of pop culture references to pique their interest. The Godfather references will likely go over the heads of the little ones, but the adults will appreciate it. It’s one of the reasons Zootopia works overall - it’s hard to deny the entertainment factor, even when it tries too hard to make a point.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
There’s very little difference in the animation quality between Disney Animation Studios (which produced Zootopia) and Pixar (which still operates separately from Disney), and the high definition video transfer makes this a reference-worthy showcase disc. The colors are vivid and the detail is fantastic. The audio is a robust 7.1 DTS soundtrack, with an effective surround presentation.
The extras are mostly short featurettes that cover various aspects of production, but they are effective, and in several cases, insightful. The special features are as follows:
“Research: A True-Life Adventure” featurette. The creative minds behind the film discuss their trip to Africa, where their experiences inspired several of the film’s characters. Running Time: 9:58
“The Origin Story of an Animal Tale” featurette. This surprisingly honest look at the development of the story is something you rarely see from filmmakers. Rather than a fluff piece, the writers admit the story needed to go through several creative stages. The original story was far different and a little darker than what we saw on the screen, and the writers and directors discuss how the refinement process made Zootopia a better film overall. Running Time: 9:15
“Zoology: The Roundtables” featurettes. Three featurettes (introduced by Ginnifer Goodwin) focus on the characters, the environments, and the animation. In each segment, the creative minds in those departments talk with each other about how they made the magic happen. Running Time: 18:23
“Scoretopia” featurette. Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino talks about his fantastic score for the film. Several individual musicians who contributed to the score (and rarely get any acclaim) are featured. Running time: 4:59
“Z.P.D. Forensic Files” featurette. The film’s “easter eggs” (or hidden references) are documented. Running time: 3:23
“Try Everything” Music Video. Shakira (who voices the character Gazelle in the film) sings the film’s hit song. Running time: 3:21
“Deleted Characters” featurette. Characters who didn’t make the cut are highlighted here. Running Time: 3:16
Deleted Scenes. Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore introduce the following deleted scenes: “Alternate Opening,” “Wild Times Pitch,” “Homesick Hopps,” “Detective Work,” “Alternate Jumbo Pops,” “Hopps’ Apartment,” and “The Taming Party.” The scenes are presented in storyboard form. Running Time: 28:03.
Digital Copy. A digital copy of the film, which works with Disney Movies Anywhere, Amazon Video, and Ultraviolet providers like VUDU, is included.
THE BOTTOM LINE: ZOOTOPIA IS A GREAT PLACE TO VISIT
Fun, clever, and sporting a nice message, Zootopia is entertaining for older kids and adults, although younger kids may not find it as interesting. Solid extras and a top-shelf technical presentation make it a worthy buy.
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Running Time: 108 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2:39.1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS HDMA, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Descriptive Audio, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
Special Features: “Research: A True Life Adventure” featurette; “The Origin Story of an Animal Tale” featurette; “Zoology: The Roundtables” featurettes;
Label: Walt Disney Home Entertainment