Off the Shelf…Disney’s ‘Zootopia’

Zootopia BannerDisney’s latest Blu-Ray offering is something that feels classically Disney, yet has the awareness and modernity of something like the studio’s frigid Princess pic. Zootopia trades ballgowns and musical numbers for a sweet-natured but surprisingly adult story. Sure it gets a candy coating, thanks to the conceit of a civilized mammalian populus, but while not intended as a straight-up comedy, this cuddly whodunnit is an all-out laugh fest.

We loved it in the theaters, and this is just a blast at home; now we can go frame by frame to take in all the grandeur of the flora and fauna directors Byron HowardRich Moore, Jared Bush, and their team crafted. It’s a delicious throwback and, further, very funny that two of the best films of 2016 happen to be retro-styled detective pieces (the other is Shane Black’s equally hilarious buddy cop yarn The Nice Guys).

Zootopia has a great message which is that “anyone can be anything“. And with that mindset, the film does better than tout a universal theme, they drive home a present one as well. Women are recognized in business, law enforcement, even politics, but just because you may look or act a certain way, it doesn’t mean you have to take the label the society gives you. That’s getting a little too deep for a movie about an entire planet of animals inhabiting a world similar to own, but things never seem trite or forced.

At its core, this story has all the makings of a revitalized ’70s crime caper. Add to that a very bright, and vintage sound from Michael Giacchino, and it all feels like an episode of Police Story with the playful attitude of CHiPs. Zootopia is entirely inventive, smart as a whip, and has fun every step of the way while still advancing the plot. Far superior to the studio’s Oscar-winning Big Hero 6, two minutes into your visit to Zootopia and you’ll never want to leave (just hope you never have to make a trip to their DMV!).

What is extra special about this release are the smattering of extras. Most of these are standard promo fare (just consolidated and repackaged) but there are some standouts. “Research: A True-Life Adventure” showcases the real life animal kingdom that influenced the digital one they created by the animation team. Same with “The Origin of an Animal Tale” which take us briefly through concept and themes and what changed from brainstorming to the silver screen.

Next, a three-part roundtable and other looks into characters and animation breathe life into these fluffy digital personas and make the world of Zootopia so vibrant. This Blu-Ray also features deleted characters and scenes with the latter having (optional) introductions by the directors. Finally, best of all, the “Z.P.D. Forensic Files” shows us the eggs scattered spread throughout the movie…yet if these are the ones they show us, it’s safe to assume there’s still plenty they didn’t. Good luck hunting for more!

G-S-T RULING:

A lot of times, animators have a thankless job. They build worlds replete with astounding visuals, yet their rich landscapes get but a few seconds of appreciation at a time. Whether you spot all the details at first or on repeat viewings, Zootopia‘s layers of complexity are on par with The Croods, or better, Mad Max: Fury Road in the sense that there’s a reason for everything you see on screen. The team at Disney have imagined and interpolated wilderness creatures into our world and it’s as believable as it is comical (have you seen the Popsicle-eating Lemmings?). Whether visual or verbal, the jokes are so laugh-out-loud funny you’ll very likely have a fixed smile the whole time.

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