First, a quick summary for those of you who just want the yay or nay: Zootopia is an excellent, wonderful film with a lot of heart, a lot of adventure, and a wonderful moral at its core that wraps up everything in a fantastic way. Put it on your list.
Now, the longer explanation.
Zootopia is one of those films that makes me curse my own shortcomings as a writer and push myself harder. It’s a excellently told story, full of character, wit (and a lot of laughs), and excellent characters.
Disney outdid itself here. The characters are fresh, funny, and full of, well, character. The film isn’t shy about dropping you in with a minimum of expository narration. It gives you a little bit wrapped up in a wonderful opening that’s both narration and not at the same time, then gives you everything you need to see what makes the main character tick … but through seeing rather than telling.
This kind of character detail is kept up through the whole film. My animation friends gushed over the attention to detail in the trailers—the way characters eyes subtly shifted, for example, as amazing visual cues—and the movie uses them to wonderful effect. They don’t just introduce a character, they show you a character.
The plot’s pretty fun too. It’s got shades of Noir to it, and definite mystery. You might figure a few things out (and I did), but it didn’t stop me from having fun. And to top it all off, the ultimate moral that it tackles? Wonderful. I’ve noticed on reddit a lot of viewers seem to resonate with comments of ‘I went in expecting X or to be preached at about Y … but in the end I walked out with something much more complex.’ I’m not going to spoil it here, and I won’t pretend that it’s a moral that’s going to resonate with everyone (after all, there are already a unhappy reviews out there for the film taking issue with the message that I think say more about the author of the review than they do about the film), but for most, it’s a message that could bear repeating and that we all need to be reminded of once in a while.
There’s a lot I could say about the movie … but I really don’t want to spoil it anymore than I already have. I look forward to being able to place Zootopia alongside Wreck-it Ralph on my movie shelves. Disney’s hitting it out of the park with their CG features lately, and Zootopia shows that whatever else is going on, the house of mouse has still got the magic.