As the title suggests, Zootopia is a modern civilized world inhabited entirely by anthropomorphic animals - this means they walk around on two feet, clothed, and are as technology savvy as any modern human.
Creatures from all over the globe live in Zootopia, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew. The city's districts are divided by culture or genus, from Sahara Square for desert animals and Tundratown for the polar bears and moose, to the Rainforest District, Bunnyburrow, Little Rodentia for the tiniest mammals and Savana Central, Zootopia serves as a melting pot for every kind of mammal.
Zootopia is a seeming utopia where mammals big and small, fast and slow, predator and prey live a harmonious life and can be anything they want to be. The truth, though, is not so perfect.
Not all the citizens of Zootopia get along, especially natural enemies like foxes and bunnies, and prejudices based on species stereotypes abound. A sense of segregation between predators and prey quietly haunts the mammal metropolis.
Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore and codirected by Jared Bush, the film features a remarkable roster of voice talent to help bring the animal urbs to life including Ginnifer Goodwin ("Something Borrowed", “Walk the Line”) as the idealistic rabbit officer Judy Hopps, and Jason Bateman (“Horrible Bosses 2”, “This is Where I Leave You”) who voices the con-artist fox, Nick Wilde.
Also included in the star voice cast are Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”) as Judy's buffalo boss Chief Bogo, Jenny Slate (“Obvious Child”) as Assistant Mayor Bellwether, Nate Torrence (HBO's “Hello Ladies”) as charming cheetah Clawhauser and Shakira as Zootopia's biggest international pop star, Gazelle.
Though a comedy centering on animal jokes and allusions, Zootopia presents a more serious theme than may superficially appear, taking audience's expectations of specific animals and their relationships—rabbit and fox, lion and lamb—and subverting them.
In addition to offering a child-friendly animal animation, Zootopia also provides a story that has a heart and delivers something meaningful even for adult audiences. It tells the fundamental idea about natural enemies—in this case Judy and Nick—who both assume something about each other but, along the way, learn that their assumptions are completely wrong when they are forced to team up. It shows audiences how to crack stereotype-based negative judgments without having to preach.
As a character, Judy Hopps is an optimistic suburban rabbit who has always wanted to be a police officer despite the fact that the cops in Zootopia all consists of big animals like rhinos, elephants and hippos. Judy has a strong sense of justice, stands up for the little guy and doesn't like bullies.
Meanwhile, Nick Wilde, the con-artist fox, is depicted as opinionated, a complete cynic and the polar opposite of Judy. Nick believes deep down that no one will ever trust him because he's a fox.
There are characters from all parts of the world in various shapes and sizes in Zootopia, and Disney succeeds in underscoring the richness and diversity of these characters by placing them in certain roles. The fox is the con-artist, the lion is the mayor and the cape buffalo becomes the chief of police. But it only takes one bunny from Bunnyburrow to question the status quo and turn what is expected of them on its head.
Visually, Zootopia is endless eye-candy, with bright and colorful city architecture and great attention to the characters' details. The characters as well as the dialogue are well developed, with clever jokes and references that promise audiences, big and small, a good laugh. And the way Disney balances every aspect of this film is nothing short of amazing.