Zootopia Blu-ray Review

Delightful, imaginative animated noir from Disney 4.5 Stars

There’s a mystery to be solved among the walking and talking animals in Zootopia, another winner from the Walt Disney Animation Studio wing of the Disney company.

Zootopia (2016)
Released: 04 Mar 2016
Rated: PG
Runtime: 108 min
Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate
Writer(s): Byron Howard (story by), Jared Bush (story by), Rich Moore (story by), Josie Trinidad (story by), Jim Reardon (story by), Phil Johnston (story by), Jennifer Lee (story by), Jared Bush (screenplay), Phil Johnston (screenplay)
Plot: In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.
IMDB rating: 8.2
MetaScore: 78

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 48 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Case Type: keep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 06/07/2016
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 4/5

There’s a mystery to be solved among the walking and talking animals in Zootopia, another winner from the Walt Disney Animation Studio wing of the Disney company. Big, colorful, and ambitious as each of the new animation projects that have recently emanated from this organization, Zootopia mixes various species of mammals into a world of mostly peaceful but potentially disrupted balance featuring a story with characters we can root for and more than a few surprises, too. There are interesting themes for young and old alike, always the mark of a successful animated endeavor.

Judy Hopps (Della Saba as a child, Ginnifer Goodwin as an adult) has wanted to be a police officer her entire life, and even though the world doesn’t restrict career ambitions for its inhabitants, no rabbit has ever been able to pass the physical requirements to earn a badge, that is, until Judy shows her superiors at the Academy what pluck and determination can do. Even graduating at the head of her class, however, Judy is crushed to be treated with disrespect by her commanding officer Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) who assigns her meter maid responsibilities in Zootopia. When she overhears Mrs. Otterton (Octavia Spencer) begging the chief not to give up on searching for her missing husband, Judy volunteers for the assignment. Bogo makes a deal with Judy: find the missing otter in two days or resign from the force. For assistance, Judy recruits sly street huckster Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who seems to know everyone in Zootopia and grudgingly agrees (with the help of a little blackmail) to join her where the two find they actually make a great detective team. Judy eventually locates Mr. Otterton, but what she also finds is a conspiracy that could blow the lid completely off the peace and tranquility of the city.

The screenplay by co-director Jared Bush and Phil Johnston offers a delightful and engaging mix of personalities and character types within the eye-popping, expansive world of Zootopia with its different borough habitats and both hilarious and exciting adventures awaiting our sleuthing duo. Having sloths in charge of the Department of Motor Vehicles or a nest of flies buzzing around the head of the yak Yax (Tommy Chong) is simply fall down funny, and while there are a couple of lazy aural and visual references (the Mr. Big sequence straight out of The Godfather is a too-direct and not particularly inspired allusion), for the most part, the storytellers and animators have used wonderfully imaginative ways to get these different sizes and shapes of creatures living and operating within the same world. The core mystery does have a rather novel solution built around a surprisingly apt theme, and there is the expected temporary falling out between the protagonists that one simply knows is coming. Still, the story more than holds our attention, and the animation is astounding throughout. The use of shadows throughout the movie is especially creative fashioning an animated noir that seems dangerous and foreboding, and as always with Disney’s animated features, there are so many charming and unusual peripheral characters who surround our heroes that there are frequently characters and situations to engage us delightfully.

Ginnifer Goodwin makes a very plucky and resourceful Judy Hopps, but the real scene stealer is Jason Bateman’s foxy Nick Wilde. Clever, confident, and very appealing even when pulling off one of his scams, Nick is another of Disney’s sly rogues (think Timothy in Dumbo and Tramp in Lady and the Tramp) who matches up so well with the film’s central hero. Idris Elba is a great, blustery Chief Bogo while Jenny Slate as the downtrodden deputy mayor Bellwether earns our sympathy in her ongoing support of Judy against her superiors who are trying to bring her down. J.K. Simmons is full of hot air as the blowhard Mayor Lionheart, Nate Torrence is the lovably portly desk sergeant, while wonderful actors like Octavia Spencer as the frantic Mrs. Otterton, Bonnie Hunt and Don Lake as Judy’s parents, and Alan Tudyk as the slippery Duke Weaselton add various colors to the inhabitants of the town and its environs.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in its original 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio and is offered in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Sharpness is exceptional allowing us to see the intricacies of the hair and fur animation on this complex feature. Color is gorgeously appointed with bold hues where necessary (the greens of the Rain Forest habitat come through especially well) but with no bleed or blooming. Black levels are beautifully rich and deep, and contrast has been consistently applied. There is no banding in the image to spoil its consistency. The film has been divided into 22 chapters.

The movie was presented in 3D in theaters, and there are quite a few shots where even in 2D, the depth is impressive, but only the 2D set was sent for review.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix offers all of the sophisticated channeling found in today’s most ambitious animated features. Dialogue is wonderfully directional at times and always easily discernible. Michael Giacchino’s background score and songs by Shakira who plays Zootopia’s hit songstress Gazelle get terrific multi-channel treatment. Atmospheric effects likewise permeate the fronts and rears with some impressive deep bass at certain intervals to add heft to the aural package presented here. It’s a reference audio track.

Special Features: 4/5

Research: A True-Life Adventure (9:58, HD): directors Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush and producer Clark Spencer discuss how important it was that they studied animals in enclosed environments and on a road trip in their natural African habitats in designing the world for Zootopia.

The Origin of an Animal Tale (9:15, HD): ): directors Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, co-writer Phil Johnston, and producer Clark Spencer discuss the six different facets of story arcs they went through during the film’s four-year development from idea to finished product.

Zoology: The Roundtables (18:23, HD): actress Ginnifer Goodwin introduces three sets of crew members : one group who worked on character development who created the drawing, modeling, and texturing of the characters, one which designed and created the environments of Zootopia, and the team of lead animators who brought the characters and their stories to life.

Scoretopia (4:59, HD): Oscar and Emmy-winning composer Michael Giacchino introduces us to a group of percussionists who brought his score to life as we watch behind-the-scenes during the recording sessions.

Z.P.D. Forensic Files (3:23, HD): a funny little featurette dealing with the dozens of Easter eggs planted in the film referencing characters from other Disney animation.

“Try Everything” Music Video (3:21, HD): Shakira performs the song which occurs twice during the movie.

Deleted Characters (3:16, HD): directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore introduce us to inhabitants of Zootopia that didn’t make it into the final movie.

Deleted Scenes (28:03, HD): Byron Howard and Rich Moore introduce seven deleted scenes (some animated, some in pencil sketches) and explain why they were cut. The scenes may be played in montage or separately.

Promo Trailer (HD): Finding Dory.

DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.

Overall: 4.5/5

Zootopia marks another delightful and imaginative feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios, a sly and cunning mystery that comes as close to noir as a Disney animated movie is ever likely to get. Highly recommended!

Published by

Matt Hough

author,editor

14 Comments

  1. Mike, can't believe you missed out on seeing Zootopia in the theater.  I couldn't stop seeing it; ended up seeing it a dozen times I enjoyed it so much.  Basically, tried to catch a showing every week since it debuted.  You should definitely feel safe going in as a blind buy.  I am glad to see Disney is releasing this in a 3D version, too, on Blu-ray after skipping the last few films.

  2. Thanks Matt! My hope is Zootopia will be in my hands on Tuesday. It's funny: I enjoyed the movie and want to see it again. My BF has asked every week for the last month when it's coming out. And he reminds me I can't watch it without him. He's typically not someone to watch a movie twice in the same year, but he apparently loved this one.

  3. Thanks to Matt for another in a long line of excellent reviews.  :thumbsup:

    And, thanks to Jason for such positive comments about the film. 

    I've been personally wary of Disney animated efforts in recent years.  Admittedly, things HAVE been getting better. 

    So, I didn't see Zootopia in the theaters.  I guess I kept wishing that Disney or Pixar had created The Secret Life of Pets instead (because I'm worried about that one, too, even though the premise is so excellent).  But the premise of Zootpia paled in my mind to Secret Life of Animals.

    So this will be in my hands Tuesday…as a blind buy.  And I now feel comfortable that it will be something for my wife and I to enjoy on a nice, relaxing summer evening.

  4. I liked the film and will have a copy also on Tuesday along with a ton of other titles. I see UPS putting on a special truck for me.

    I'm getting several titles, too.  UPS better be ready for the big day!  It's quite a release date.  Wait'll you see the coming week's RoundUp!

  5. Mike, can't believe you missed out on seeing Zootopia in the theater.  I couldn't stop seeing it; ended up seeing it a dozen times I enjoyed it so much.  Basically, tried to catch a showing every week since it debuted.  You should definitely feel safe going in as a blind buy.

    I am glad to see Disney is releasing this in a 3D version, too, on Blu-ray after skipping the last few films.

    I wish they had sent the 3D version for review. There were certainly several sequences during the movie that I felt 3D would have greatly enhanced (though they played just fine in 2D, of course).

  6. I wish they had sent the 3D version for review. There were certainly several sequences during the movie that I felt 3D would have greatly enhanced (though they played just fine in 2D, of course).

    I was thinking that myself, also another title, 3D seems to be in steep decline, I glad there are a few die hards though 🙂

  7. I grabbed the 3-D copy, all the while puzzling over the welcome fact that a new Disney Blu-ray was, in fact, in 3-D.

    After all the hoops I jumped through to get 3-D versions of Frozen and Big Hero 6, this time all I had to do was put out my hand and pull it off a shelf.

    Thank you, Disney.

  8. I was thinking that myself, also another title, 3D seems to be in steep decline, I glad there are a few die hards though 🙂

    I guess there must be more than a few, if Disney is giving the U.S. edition the 3-D treatment. It might also be a trial balloon to determine whether or not to out out, say, THE JUNGLE BOOK or THE FORCE AWAKENS (the latter of which hasn't even been announced for 3D in Europe yet).

  9. I watched my copy last night, I had the 3D version. The 3D isn't something I can honestly say was "great", I've seen better 3D in other Disney & Pixar productions, but it was done well. Some parts are hilarious (the DMV for instance). The story is very good, but again, I didn't feel it lived up to the hype. Technically, the film is outstanding. There is some of the best animation and detail work I've seen to date – obviously the art of electronic animation is improving.

    Hopefully Disney will continue to release 3D Blu, but I've yet to see the pre-order for Jungle Book offered in 3D, so perhaps there is no hope…

  10. I watched my copy last night, I had the 3D version. The 3D isn't something I can honestly say was "great", I've seen better 3D in other Disney & Pixar productions, but it was done well. Some parts are hilarious (the DMV for instance). The story is very good, but again, I didn't feel it lived up to the hype. Technically, the film is outstanding. There is some of the best animation and detail work I've seen to date – obviously the art of electronic animation is improving.

    Hopefully Disney will continue to release 3D Blu, but I've yet to see the pre-order for Jungle Book offered in 3D, so perhaps there is no hope…

    I'm not trying to derail this thread but I think Disney is clearly experimenting with offering 3D Blurays. DMC only has the 2D bluray available for pre-order (or the DVD for$8.00 less) But Costco only had the Ant-Man 3-D bluray set as it's bluray offering.

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