Nice notes! Completely agree that Zootopia was miles ahead of Happy Feet!Vernadyn wrote:I agree that Zootopia isn't up to the standard of Big Hero 6, Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, or Tangled, and that the "message" was heavy-handed, but it was a good sight better than Happy Feet. I'd say it's also better than The Good Dinosaur but in the same ballpark as Bolt--decent, but not spectacular.
The first half or so was episodic--particularly the yak, sloth, and Mr. Big segments--but I felt the film started to pull together more as it progressed. As with The Good Dinosaur, I also felt the film didn't quite explore its intriguing premise--in this case, a city with several distinct boroughs and different species living in harmony--to its full potential. I was expecting there to be more laughs, and I agree that there actually weren't that many.
What actually impressed me more was the sincere moments between the two main characters; it's a testament to the voice actors and animators that the performances remained convincing, hampered as they were by the didactic tone of some of the writing. Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde were appealing characters with just enough complexity to make them believable. Whatever faults Disney Animation's recent films may have, they're still the best mainstream American animation studio at creating engaging characters with whom you'd want to spend two hours. (Pixar held that crown until Cars 2 blundered into town, though Inside Out shows that the studio can still be marvelous when firing on all cylinders.)
As for the spoiler-y stuff…
Speaking of the soundtrack, even though this wasn't one of Giacchino's better efforts (especially as he had a stellar 2015), I did enjoy some of the stylish instrumentation. The lack of good themes, however, is a major detriment, especially from a composer who thrives on clever, complex thematic variation. There is a main "relationship" theme, but it's a very simplistic construct that sounds like leftovers from Lost. Henry Jackman's scores for Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6, despite being more action-oriented overall, still handled the emotional moments with more poignancy than Giacchino's score for Zootopia. Then again, it was a more lightweight film, so I suppose Giacchino was just writing for the film he was given. That said, it was nowhere near as infuriatingly Mickey-Mousey as Randy Newman's Toy Story scores.
As far as critical reception goes, I kind of see Zootopia as this year's Mad Max: Fury Road-- rapturous reviews by critics, and while both are good films, neither blew me away. Despite the moments of pontification, Zootopia is more of a vivacious if somewhat frothy confection mostly redeemed by its charming lead characters. (That sounds a whole lot more like a Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus blurb than I intended.)
I gave The good Dinosaur a 4, Zootopia a 5, and Bolt a 6 -- so right with you there too!