Action Adventure

'Zootopia' Blu-ray Review: Cute, cuddly and culturally relevant

June 7, 2016Ben MK

Disney and talking animal movies go hand in hand, from old classics like Dumbo to more recent films like The Good Dinosaur. Still, that doesn't mean you should discount their latest animated feature as just another cookie-cutter story about cute critters with a gift for gab. On the contrary, Zootopia is that rare breed of film — a movie that's as culturally relevant as it is thoughtful and entertaining.

Taking its title from its setting, a sprawling metropolis that's home to dozens of different animal species, Zootopia follows Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), an optimistic rabbit for whom hard work and perseverance is a mantra. As Zootopia's first ever bunny police officer, Judy has broken down barriers for her species. Yet, she still finds herself condescended to, and, as a result, is always on the lookout for opportunities to prove herself. Her big break comes when she must team up with a sly fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), forming a partnership that will see them cracking a missing mammals case, and discovering something about themselves and each other along the way.

Of course, you don't need eagle-like vision to see the parallels between our own society and Zootopia, a sprawling cityscape which is itself comprised of multiple ecosystems, each with its own catchy name. From the desert dunes of Sahara Sands to the frozen lakes of Tundratown, this is a world that's a perfect metaphor for our own; and as such, the film's core messages about equality and inclusion feel especially resonant. In addition, the movie has plenty to say about believing in oneself and never giving up, two traits that describe our main protagonist Judy to a tee.

Otherwise, Zootopia is just an incredibly breathtaking and busy film, so jam-packed with amazing vocal talent and bursting with sight gags, pop culture references and animal-related puns that it can feel almost overwhelming at times. Thankfully, the filmmakers — Tangled's Byron Howard, Jared Bush and Wreck-It Ralph's Rich Moore and Phil Johnston — know exactly when to dial back the zingers and let the movie's heart shine through. Suffice to say, the result sets a new high-water mark, not just for Disney animated films, but for the animation genre as a whole.

To say that Zootopia looks fantastic on Blu-ray would be an understatement. After all, this is a Disney computer-animated feature. And, as such, the studio hasn't disappointed, delivering yet another vivid, pixel-perfect 1080p transfer that allows viewers to see every tiny detail that the animators have put into the frame, from the millions of individual hairs on Judy and Nick's heads to the subtle visual references to other Disney properties, like Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Rabbit. As for the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack, it too pulls its own weight, putting viewers right in the thick of the hustle and bustle of Zootopia. From the pitter-patter of the tiniest mouse to the heavy stomping of elephants and rhinos, this is an all-around superb listening experience.

Zootopia is available from Disney as both a two-disc 2D Blu-ray combo pack and a three-disc 3D Blu-ray release, both of which include an iTunes digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Research: A True-Life Adventure (9:58) - A look at the research conducted by the directors, producers and animators, from a visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom to a trip across the globe to Africa, and how the traits of the different animal species were translated to film.
  • The Origin Of An Animal Tale (9:15) - Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore, writers Jared Bush and Phil Johnston, and producer Clark Spencer talk about the beginnings of their movie, from the multiple story ideas initially pitched to the evolution of a story centered around predator and prey animals.
  • Zoology: The Roundtables (18:23) - A three-part featurette ("Characters," "Environments" and "Animation") in which the filmmakers talk about what went into creating the movie's characters, the challenges of creating the film's diverse environments, and the development of the film's characters.
  • Scoretopia (4:59) - Composer Michael Giacchino gives viewers some insight into the odd and exotic instruments used to create the film's score.
  • Z.P.D. Forensic Files (3:23) - A look at the movie's Easter eggs, in particular its references to other Disney properties like Big Hero 6 and Frozen.
  • "Try Everything" Music Video By Shakira (3:21) - The official music video for the song featured in the movie.
  • Deleted Characters (3:16) - Directors Rich Moore and Byron Howard give viewers a look at six sets of characters who didn't make the final cut.
  • Deleted Scenes (28:03) - Seven scenes, some in rough animatic form, with introductions by directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore ("Alternate Opening," "Wild Times Pitch," "Homesick Hopps," "Detective Work," "Alternate Jumbo Pops," "Hopps' Apartment" and "The Taming Party").

Zootopia is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of June 7th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 48 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on March 4th, 2016.

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