Zootopia

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Re: Zootopia

Post by James » March 9th, 2016, 9:55 pm

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…
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Yes, Disney has to stop using the "unexpected villain" trope because we'll all be expecting it now and groaning when the reveal happens. At least it made more sense here than the "turn" in Frozen, though I still think Wreck-It Ralph did it best. In fact, King Candy is kind of similar to Gaston--he starts off as a blustering, daft buffoon before he reveals his true nature.
Also, don't read the track titles for the soundtrack if you don't want any spoilers. No, it's not as blatant as "Qui-Gon's Noble End," but anyone with reasonable powers of deduction can figure out the reveal by reading the cue titles.

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.)
Nice notes! Completely agree that Zootopia was miles ahead of Happy Feet!

I gave The good Dinosaur a 4, Zootopia a 5, and Bolt a 6 -- so right with you there too!

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Re: Zootopia

Post by Vernadyn » March 10th, 2016, 1:55 am

James wrote: Nice notes! Completely agree that Zootopia was miles ahead of Happy Feet!

I gave The good Dinosaur a 4, Zootopia a 5, and Bolt a 6 -- so right with you there too!
Thanks for the compliment! I'd probably give Zootopia one more point than you did, but I really suck at giving numerical ratings. I try to do it sometimes, but then I realize, "I gave both these films a 5, but I like Film A significantly more than Film B. But Film A isn't as good as Film C, which I gave a 6. But Film C…" and so forth.

Meet the Robinsons is a film I would have trouble rating numerically. The middle is just so scatterbrained, but the first act is decent and I really like the last act. But i's better to end strong than to start strong and trail off with a whimper at the end (like Antz--after Danny Glover's head dies, so does the movie for me.)

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Re: Zootopia

Post by James » March 10th, 2016, 8:11 am

Vernadyn wrote:Thanks for the compliment! I'd probably give Zootopia one more point than you did, but I really suck at giving numerical ratings. I try to do it sometimes, but then I realize, "I gave both these films a 5, but I like Film A significantly more than Film B. But Film A isn't as good as Film C, which I gave a 6. But Film C…" and so forth...
That's a very salient point that a lot of new reviewers don't think about, and consequently their scores lack internal consistency! I actually have a system at this point that helps me with that. I have every film I've reviewed (and many I haven't reviewed on the site) listed in a spreadsheet sorted by the score I gave it, high to low. When I'm ready to review a new movie I write the review first then come up with a score. Then I go to the spreadsheet and compare the movie to others I gave that score to to see if I think it fits with that group of films. Then I move it up or down as appropriate. That way my ratings are pretty consistent with each other.

For example, according my my spreadsheet other movies I scored the same as Zootopia include The Princess and the Frog, The Peanuts Movie, and The Croods. I think that's a good fit for my opinion of it.

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Re: Zootopia

Post by Vernadyn » March 10th, 2016, 5:11 pm

James wrote:For example, according my my spreadsheet other movies I scored the same as Zootopia include The Princess and the Frog, The Peanuts Movie, and The Croods. I think that's a good fit for my opinion of it.
The spreadsheet thing is a good idea. I was initially a little surprised at your score, because I still sometimes have that school grading mindset that anything under a 7 out of 10 sucks. (In fact, at my high school, we considered anything below a 90% to be the end of the world--and it was definitely not a walk in the park to get good grades at my school!) But as you wrote earlier, some reviewers only use a range of 8-10, which isn't helpful. I haven't seen The Peanuts Movie yet, but I agree with Zootopia being at the same level as The Croods and The Princess and the Frog (though I think Frog is slightly less entertaining than the others, especially when they're wandering around in the swamp).

Lest you think I'm some groveling sycophant, I did enjoy Inside Out much more than you did.

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Re: Zootopia

Post by Ben » March 10th, 2016, 5:21 pm

But...what did you think of Anomalisa...!? ;)

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Re: Zootopia

Post by Vernadyn » March 11th, 2016, 4:06 am

Ben wrote:But...what did you think of Anomalisa...!? ;)
Me? I haven't seen that yet either. (And I call myself an animation fan.) I do really like three out of the four Charlie Kaufman-written films I have seen--Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Synecdoche, New York was a little too out-there for me, bordering on self-indulgent, though I do appreciate its ambition.

Unless that winky emoticon is alluding to a joke that's going over my head; said head feels especially stuffed with fluff today.

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Re: Zootopia

Post by Ben » March 11th, 2016, 4:16 am

Yeah...just a little private rub between the AV staff. Don't feel left out, it's nothing earth shattering. :)

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Re: Zootopia

Post by James » March 11th, 2016, 9:00 am

Ben wrote:...Don't feel left out, it's nothing earth shattering. :)
Neither is Anomalisa! Ba-dum-ching! ;)

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Re: Zootopia

Post by Ben » March 11th, 2016, 9:10 am

He's here all week! ;)

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Re: Zootopia

Post by droosan » March 12th, 2016, 8:19 pm

Ben wrote:As for Zootopia/Zootropolis... Apparently there's a zoo or animal preserve in Denmark that trademarked the name Zootopia in Europe. Since they have the mark to produce toys and clothes merchandise, Disney would have had to pay them to use that name (irrespective of what the logo looked like). They could have used it for the film, but not on toys or clothes or certain other items of merchandise. Since licensing is such a huge area for a film property to bring in extra income - especially when it's a big hit like this - they decided to change the name.

I'll let you know if they swap the dialogue but from what I hear that's a no: literally just the name of the film/merchandise has been changed (well, and the newscaster "cameo") so as to not tread on the Danish zoo's claim (a registration that, being a European country, doesn't stretch to the US, where they never trademarked the word). So it's a straight business decision (of course!) so that Disney can own the property outright in either trandemarkable continent (Zootopia in the US, Zootropolis in Europe and, I presume, the rest of the world).

Interestingly, France got the film as Zootopie (incorporating the french spelling of 'utopia') ..

Image

The title appears on french merchandise for the movie, as well:

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Re: Zootopia

Post by Bill1978 » March 13th, 2016, 5:01 am

Well that makes sense, helps with the pun to link the pun to the way the French would say it. I still giggle at the French title for Home on The Range being The Rebelious Farm (or something along that line)

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Re: Zootopia

Post by Ben » March 13th, 2016, 5:37 am

Then I guess the Euro Zootopia mark doesn't stretch to the French spelling of the word. Either way, Zootpia is clearly the cleverer and consistent title for this property. Trust the French to get it right, though: remember that they also got Rapunzel...! :)

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Re: Zootopia

Post by droosan » March 13th, 2016, 10:18 am

They got Frozen as "The Snow Queen," too..! :mrgreen:

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Re: Zootopia

Post by droosan » March 13th, 2016, 9:49 pm

James wrote:
Ben wrote:...I must add, though, that even from the trailers (I start to overthink things!) I had begun to wonder what the carnivores eat. And it's going to be annoying to me that they don't address that at all...
I didn't want to give much away in the review, and I don't want to do it here since you haven't seen it. But suffice it to say a major plot point late in the film that hasn't got a lot of play in the previews or reviews almost requires an answer to the question about what they eat. You may ask it as a fun question early on, but by the end it is an important question.

It's not addressed in the final film (which is kinda frustrating) .. but apparently, in an earlier 'darker' version of the story -- in which Nick was the main character -- fish were a part of the menu:

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And (although this is pure speculation!) ..
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If fish were 'non-anthropomorphic animals' in this world, perhaps there were other species for which this was also the case. The lack of any birds among the citizens of Zootopia therefore suggests they might've been another portion of the meat-eaters' diet.

Come to think of it .. there are no reptiles or amphibians, either .. so, frog legs and alligator soup are also 'possible' menu items. :twisted:

.. and OMG: no humans..!! :shock: :lol:

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Re: Zootopia

Post by Ben » March 14th, 2016, 5:15 am

Get your hands off me, you damned dirty animals...! ;)

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