Review: Zootropolis

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Amidst the hype and publicity machine of Batman v Superman, Disney have been relatively gentile in their  publicity of new film Zootropolis (otherwise known as Zootopia in the States). Having seen a trailer prior to a screening of Kung Fu Panda 3, my 7 year old turned to me and declared ‘We HAVE to go and see that!’. How could I refuse??

Zootropolis os the story of Judy Hopps the first ever bunny police officer determined to change the world and make Zootropolis a better place. Zootroplois is a world in which all animal life has evolved to into a civilised society where prey and predator live harmoniously side by side. Hopps soon discovers not all is as it seems as some citizens have gone missing and returned to their ‘savage’ state. To solve the case Hopps must team up with the most unlikely of allies Nick Wilde the crafty fox.

I can’t begin to express how much joy Zootropolis gave me. This wonderful societal allegory made me smile from minute one and I’m still grinning ear to ear as I type. It is a timely film. In a world where hate and fear can be the dominating narrative, Zootropolis aims to be the cinematic antidote. Wonderfully poignant and with a great sense of humour the film never drops its pace, never loses its humour and stays on message throughout.

The film has within it plenty to enjoy for kids and adults alike, a Breaking Bad gag towards the end, lots of little incidental nods to other Disney films and so much going on in the background that repeated viewing may be essential.

The message of Zootropolis is not subtle but it is welcomed.Every animal plays their part and every animal’s skill is celebrated. Sloth’s processing vehicle licensing paperwork a particular highlight.

Hope remains that society will overcome stereotypes, judgemental attitudes and prejudice. Society can progress, move forward and evolve. Zootropolis may just be the blueprint we have been waiting for.

After the dirge and bleakness of Batman v Superman, Zootropolis was a great cinematic palette cleanser.

 

 

 

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Review :Kung Fu Panda 3

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A third instalment in the Kung Fu Panda series wasn’t exactly something I was highly anticipating this year. I enjoyed the original and I remember nothing of the second film (never a good sign). I  am therefore pleased to report that Kung Fu Panda 3 is a lot of high kicking family fun.

When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible-learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas.

Kung Fu Panda has always dealt with the discovery of self. This film is no different Po faces his past to reconcile the circumstances he faces in the present. The initial meeting between Po and his father is one of the stand out moments. Their bumbling nature and lack of smarts are hilarious as dumbstruck villagers look on.

A stellar voice cast are in top form and in particular J K Simmons as bad guy Kai has gone straight into my top 5 cinematic bad guys. This a bad guy who is a threat, who is an intimidating presence and still has some great comedy moments all of which are carried out perfectly.

Beautiful animation, plenty of laughs meant that both I and my daughter had a great time. Kung Fu Panda 3 is a perfect family popcorn guzzling day out at the cinema and sometimes that’s all you need.

 

Review : The Good Dinosaur

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Let’s be honest. It was always going to be a struggle for The Good Dinosaur. In normal circumstances 2 Pixar movies in a year would be a real treat. However when one of those films is Inside Out the film following in it’s footsteps was always going to underwhelm.

To be clear that is not The Good Dinosaur’s fault there are plenty of things to like within the film however they just fall a little flat.

The world of the Good Dinosaur is one in which the asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs on Earth missed it’s intended target and left us a world of talking dinosaurs and neanderthals in the animal role. Arlo is our hero, fearful, shy but determined to win the respect and admiration of his family.

Following an unfortunate event Arlo is sent off on a road journey with only Spot the neanderthal irritant for (unwanted) company. Arlo is left to find his way home in a world which forces him to face his many fears head on.

This movie is many things.  It is a movie about family, a movie about overcoming your fears and a road trip/ buddy movie all rolled into one and this may be the biggest problems the movie has. The film never clearly determines which of these is the true focus and this sadly means that none of the elements mentioned get the full attention of the creators.

Another issues for me was the film being set within a strangely adapted Wild West movie frontier. This does allow for some wonderful animation particularly in the surrounding almost real life scenery. It also however means that the film has wild west related distractions, for example T-Rex’s almost pretending to ride horses like cowboys in one sequence is particularly odd.

All in all there are things to like about the Good Dinosaur but I think the title is itself an indicator of how Pixar may feel. This is The Good Dinosaur it is not sadly The Great Dinosaur.