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Review: ‘Zootopia’ is More Than Just Fluff

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Zootopia Ginnifer Goodwin Judy Hopps Jason Bateman

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s rare to see a modern animated film have strong allegories, but also a fantastical world to wrap them within. Zootopia deals with topics such as racism, sexism, prejudice and stereotypes, but only as bluntly as they should appear in a world of anthropomorphic animals.

Zootopia Ginnifer Goodwin Judy Hopps Jason Bateman

The gang’s all here! Animals unite in the world of ‘Zootopia.’

It’s probably not something you’d expect from the Walt Disney Studios that tends to favor the simpler and award-winning stories of Frozen and Big Hero 6. But in the current crop of animated films that dabble in simplistic slapstick and templated shlock, Zootopia stands out just enough to turn some heads on how to make a movie about CGI animals both creative and thoughtful.

Zootopia constructs a society where all animals have learned to live in harmony. Hamsters ride the train with rhinos, a sheep acts as a secretary to a tiger and giraffes can get a decent cup of coffee on their morning commute. Despite the boasting of defeating nature over nurture with prey living among predators, a few hurdles exist to be climbed.

Zootopia Ginnifer Goodwin Judy Hopps Jason Bateman

Judy Hopps wants to be more than just an adorable fluffball.

Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a rabbit that wants to be a cop, but there has never been a bunny police officer before – most bunnies appear to be farmers. When relayed this information by her parents, Judy cheerfully states that she’ll just have to be the first, as if it’s no big challenge. But it turns out to be one of the most difficult tasks of her life with a societal mindset that bunnies are too cute and small to handle big cases. She certainly stands out in a room of officers that range from water buffalo to elephants.

Reduced to the level of a meter maid, Judy seeks to prove herself by solving one of the many missing mammal cases throughout Zootopia. Her only lead is the cunning fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a shameless hustler that specializes in taking advantage of kindness and making a quick couple hundred dollars.

Zootopia Ginnifer Goodwin Judy Hopps Jason Bateman

An unlikely duo-Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde team up to catch a crook in ‘Zootopia.’

Judy uses all her wits and smarts to force Nick into helping her crack the case and proves she’s not just some dumb little bunny. At the same time, Nick also desires to excel past his predator ancestors to be more than just an astute huckster. And the conspiracy they uncover is thankfully smart enough to not be obvious and have a few unique twists.

The premise sounds simple enough for a buddy picture fused with a conspiracy plot. But the exceptional direction of Rich Moore and Byron Howard elevates every scene to its full potential.

There is an immense construction to the world of Zootopia that divides up regions into different climates from rainforests to a tundra. The inner urbanized part of Zootopia has various areas built for creatures big and small; hippos have a dry-off station after emerging from water and small moles go shopping in their own pint-sized district. The attention to detail to every aspect of this society is a grand visual treat.

While kids will marvel at the amazing animation and character designs, adults will have plenty to admire in the humor. There are satirical digs at the studio with the way a street vendor sells bootleg versions of familiar Disney movies and one very clever slam on Frozen. The thematic elements contain loving satire to The Godfather and Chinatown, but clever enough to be appropriate for the story rather than just be direct references.

The comedy is also just as smart with the right amount of timing. One of the most uproarious scenes involves Judy and Nick gathering information from a DMV run by sloths. The full version of this scene was used in one of the trailers. Having already seen it, I still laughed hard at this scene for it tenacity to draw out the lazy nature of sloths. The absurdity is golden.

Everything about Zootopia works more effectively than expected for another animated movie about talking animals. There is intelligence to its story of social drama and equal parts wit in its vibrant animation. The result is a film that can be timely in its important message, but still be a genuinely pleasing production that families can indulge in for cute laughs. I didn’t even mind that the movie ends with the cliché dancing of characters to the tune of Shakira (anthropomorphized as a gazelle). You go ahead and have your dance, Zootopia – you’ve earned it.

[author title=”About the Author” image=”http://popstermedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/mark_mcpherson-300×221-150×150.jpg”]Movie nut Mark McPherson has been all about movies since working at a video store in his youth. His talents range from video editing to animation to web development, but movies have always been his passion to write about.[/author]

Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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