Tuesday, 22 March 2016

REVIEW - ZOOTOPIA (BYRON HOWARD AND RICH MOORE)


Modern times are upon us, and the movies are catching up. Zootopia uses its sense of social responsibility not as an accoutrement to the action, nor as pithy pandering to a subset of its demographic, but as an integral component within its narrative and thematic thrusts. It's not merely a film about acceptance and tolerance, it actively is acceptance and tolerance in film form, a piece of promotional material for the values it upholds itself. And no, you may not need to hear it, nor read about it, but consider the impact that a sense of social responsibility could have in a film when its demographic is children: Zootopia is an educational work whether it intends to be or not, and it's most satisfying to see its filmmakers embrace this responsibility. Indeed, they not only embrace it but enrich it, shading it not only with sweetness but with incisiveness too - Zootopia understands the dangers of prejudice and stereotyping whilst also appreciating the legitimacy of their inception in the mind (subjectively speaking). As in real life, the villains here are doing the wrong things for what they believe are the right reasons. Such intelligence aside, though it informs the majority of this film's content, Zootopia is otherwise constituted of a half-decent detective plot, a prosaic aesthetic, and a generally strong but spotty sense of humour. It doesn't even appear to attempt to translate its noble thematic concerns into equally commendable artistic intent - surely a missed opportunity, if not disastrously so.